Tag: stevie-lee thompson

AFL Women’s Sunday wrap: Crows down Magpies to secure minor premiership

THE Adelaide Crows secured the AFL Women’s minor premiership on Sunday afternoon, downing Collingwood by 14 points and showcasing just how well they can shut down their opposition. Whilst the Magpies showed glimpses of their usual form, the Crows capitalised on their home advantage and piled on the pressure across the ground, coming away with the 4.7 (31) to 2.5 (17) victory.

The Crows earned a week off during the first week of finals for their effort, with a solid first quarter effort credit to the team’s spread across the ground and smothering pressure both on and off the ball. A couple of early majors to Justine Mules and Ash Woodland set the tone as Anne HatchardEbony Marinoff and Erin Phillips controlled movement around attack, and while a Jaimee Lambert major kept the Magpies in it during the first, it was all Crows for the remainder of the match as they piled on the offensive pressure.

A huge second quarter saw Adelaide put on a defensive masterclass, locking the Pies out of their attack and forcing turnovers and stoppages aplenty when they entered. The tight contest remained as the Crows missed a couple of chances, but an early Hatchard goal kept the side well ahead of the Pies with a huge second half expected. The Magpies really lacked their usual spark, and while Lambert, Bri Davey and Britt Bonnici kept on driving forward, applying their typical physicality, a concussion to Sophie Casey following a collision with Stevie-Lee Thompson put the side down a player with little momentum heading into the remainder of the match.

The final term saw an early goal from Chloe Molloy spark a bit of excitement into the Magpies, but while they took advantage of their renewed energy to keep in the match, three behinds showed just how tight the Crows defence remained despite putting 0.2 on the board themselves. A 29 per cent efficiency inside 50 saw the Magpies rue their missed chances, with a big week of finals footy coming up.

For the minor premiers, Hatchard (22 disposals, six marks, one goal) and Marinoff (18 disposals, six tackles) led the way as Chelsea Randall, Phillips and Woodland (booted 1.2 from eight disposals) were also named amongst the best and Teah Charlton put a major on the board. The Magpies’ usual suspects earned top honours again, with Lambert (25 touches, eight tackles) and Davey (22 and eight) wreaking havoc but unable to translate on the scoreboard, as Bonnici and Ruby Schleicher piled on 22 touches apiece.

The Magpies will host the second qualifying final on Saturday afternoon, taking on North Melbourne in what should be a tantalising contest. Adelaide earns the qualifying week off and will host a semi-final in two weeks time.

ADELAIDE 2.2 3.4 4.5 4.7 (31)
COLLINGWOOD 1.1 1.1 1.2 2.5 (17)

GOALS
Adelaide: A. Hatchard, J. Mules, A. Woodland, T. Charlton
Collingwood: J. Lambert, C. Molloy

BEST
Adelaide: A. Hatchard, C. Randall, E. Marinoff, E. Phillips, A. Woodland
Collingwood: B. Davey, J. Lambert, B. Bonnici, S. Chiocci, S. Rowe

Picture credit: Getty Images

By: Sophie Taylor

Picture credit: Getty Images

GIANTS TEST BLUES AS DARCY GOES BANG

By: Sophie Taylor

FOR two sides looking to get one more win on the board to finish out the home and away season, only pride was on the line as the GWS GIANTS and Carlton Blues went head-to-head in their last match of the season. While Carlton was out of the running for finals contention following North Melbourne’s win on Saturday, it did not stop the side from putting a tough effort out on the field – something they required, with the GIANTS looking to make one last jump up the ladder. But the Blues only just got over the line in a result that was befitting of their disappointing season, coming away with a tight 4.8 (32) to 4.7 (31) win on the road.

Cora Staunton set the tone early and proved the GIANTS would not relent easily with a goal in the opening minutes, but that was all the GIANTS fans would get for the opening term as the Blues tightened up defensively, creating stoppages and limiting the side’s movement. A Darcy Vescio goal to add to her highlights reel saw the Blues spark into action offensively toward the end of the term, but with a one-point ball-game at quarter time there was still plenty to work on. Maddy Prespakis and Bec Beeson were the predominant ball carriers for their respective sides as Alyce Parker also put on a show.

But the side’s momentum was slashed when Staunton once again opened the second term with another major to edge a lead, seeing a string of behinds before Brooke Walker broke the trend with a major to steady the ship. Two more behinds were made by the Blues before Lauren Brazzale extended the Blues lead but it was a frustrating affair as Carlton continued to waste chances to capitalise on their clear momentum. With a 13-point half-time margin the Blues had plenty of chances to run way with it but lacked potency once more, though they were fortunate that the GIANTS also missed chances. It continued to be the Staunton and Vescio show as Staunton kept GWS driving forward but missed the remainder of her three attempts on goal, while Vescio made history booting her 16th goal of the season, winning the goalkicking award for 2021 and becoming the first AFL Women’s player to boot over 15 goals in a season.

It was not enough though as the Blues slowed down in the final quarter, with Tait Mackrill putting her second goal on the board to go one-point down and keep the GIANTS in the hunt with under 10 minutes left on the clock. But defensively, both sides plied their trade well to ensure the tight encounter went down to the wire, with neither side able to create scoring shots as the Blues ran out with the narrowest of wins to complete their season.

For the GIANTS, Beeson’s 27 disposal, four mark and four tackle game saw her lead the charge as Parker (26 and six tackles) plied her trade and Staunton was dangerous up forward booting 2.4 from 13 touches. For the Blues, Prespakis’ 27 touches were crucial as co-captains Katie Loynes (eight tackles, two behinds) and Alison Downie (three rebounds, three tackles) played their last game in the navy blue, putting out solid performances.

GWS GIANTS 1.0 2.1 3.5 4.7 (31)
CARLTON 1.1 3.8 4.8 4.8 (32)

GOALS
GWS Giants: C. Staunton 2, T. Mackrill 2
Carlton: D. Vescio 2, B. Walker, L. Brazzale

BEST
GWS Giants: A. Parker, R. Beeson, C. Staunton, A. Eva, T. Mackrill
Carlton: M. Prespakis, K. Loynes, D. Vescio, J. Hosking, K. Harrington

Picture credit: AFL Photos

Saints punish disappointing Eagles to end season on a high

By: Liam Badkin

ST Kilda has finished its AFLW season in style, while West Coast enters its offseason with plenty to ponder after falling to the Saints in the final game of the home and away season on Sunday afternoon. The Eagles led the visitors by less than a goal at quarter time, but a four goal to nil second quarter saw the Saints stamp their authority on the contest, running away with the win 11.10 (76) to 3.2 (20).

West Coast started the game in style, with rookie Grace Kelly combining with sister Niamh to open the game’s scoring with a blistering goal on the run. The Eagles looked to take control of the game for the majority of the opening term, before the Saints answered through All-Australian forward Caitlin ‘G-Train’ Greiser to bring themselves back into the contest. With a margin of just four points in favour of the Eagles after a quarter of football, it looked as if the 809-strong crowd would be treated to a close game. The second quarter changed this, as the Saints hit their straps and the Eagles began to fall apart. Goals to Greiser, Jess Matin and Molly McDonald saw St Kilda break the game open, while the Eagles were scoreless for the quarter to see themselves on the end of a 22-point deficit at the main break.

The Eagles started the third term with promising signs, resulting in a second goal to Grace Kelly to cut the margin to 18 points in what looked to be the beginning of a comeback. This hope began to fade as former basketballer Tyanna Smith kicked a remarkable goal to keep the Eagles at bay. With a bandage around her forehead, Smith skilfully tapped the ball to her advantage before gathering and shrugging off a tackle and kicking the goal of the day from a tough angle. The goal proved to be a steadier for the Saints as they entered the final break with a 27-point lead over their opponents. The final quarter was decided shortly after it began as the Saints kicked three goals in three minutes through Darcy Guttridge, Kate Shierlaw and Georgia Patrikios to put the game away and finish their 2021 season in style, taking home the win by 56 points.

For the victors, there were excellent performers all over the ground in a clinical performance, but the midfield duo of Patrikos (30 disposals and a goal) and Smith (24 disposals and a goal) clearly stamped their influence on the game. The Saints were electric through the middle and the pair had plenty to do with this. Meanwhile in the forward line Greiser and Matin combined for five goals to give opposition defenders a constant headache. The only negative for the Saints came in the form of a head knock to forward Jacqui Vogt. For the Eagles, Mikayla Bowen (22 disposals and five tackles) and Belinda Smith (18 disposals) battled bravely in what proved to be a tough day at the office.

With both teams failing to qualify for finals, this match up would be their farewell to the 2021 season, as they look ahead to improve and rise up the ladder next year.

WEST COAST 2.0 2.0 3.0 3.2 (20)
ST KILDA 1.2 5.4 6.9 11.9 (76)

GOALS
West Coast: G. Kelly 2, M. Caulfield
St Kilda: J. Matin 3, C. Greiser 2, M. McDonald, T. Smith, D. Guttridge, K. Shierlaw, G. Patrikios, C. Whitfort

BEST
West Coast: M. Bowen, B. Smith, A. Atkins, G. Kelly, K. Orme, M. Ward
St Kilda: G. Patrikios, T. Smith, J. Matin, D. Guttridge, C. Greiser, C. Phillips, K. Shierlaw

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image credit: Daniel Pockett / Getty Images

 

Image credit: Sarah Reed / Getty Images

High-flying Crows swoop on Dogs

By: Taylah Melki

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Image credit: Getty Images

Dees nab finals spot with clutch win over Dockers

By: Sophie Taylor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AFL Women’s Saturday wrap: Lions set up potential top of the table clash

By: Peter Williams

BRISBANE Lions have set up a potential top of the table clash with Collingwood – provided the Pies win today – after grabbing their fifth win of the season against GWS GIANTS yesterday. The Lions were a touch inaccurate, booting 7.13 (55) to 2.5 (17), but it was enough to secure the comfortable 38-point win and temporarily move into top spot. With five individual goalkickers for their seven goals, the Lions shared the goals around on the afternoon, and moved to a 5-1 record heading into the final three rounds of the season.

Dakota Davidson was quick off the mark, scoring a goal in the opening two minutes of the match to get the visitors up and about early. New recruit Courtney Hodder soon added her first at the 12-minute mark with a remarkable effort close to goal in tight space under pressure, and Jess Wuetschner in her second game back converted one, and the Lions were out to an 18-point lead with a few minutes remaining in the first term. The quarter time margin – which extended by one from that point courtesy of a Hodder behind – was 20 points, and the Lions were already looking in control of the match.

That only increased in the second term, as Isabel Dawes scored an early goal two minutes into the quarter, and fellow youngster Jade Ellenger drove the dagger in further with a fifth individual goalkicker in the match. When Davidson snagged her second of the contest late in the quarter, the margin had blown out to 39 points, and would by 41 by half-time. The GIANTS were unable to put one through the big sticks, while the Lions were sharing the ball around going inside 50 and reaping the rewards of doing so.

Dawes kicked her second major of the game again early in the third, as the six-and-a-half minute mark ticked past and Brisbane was out to a 49-point lead. It was at this point, the GIANTS began to rise. Katherine Smith was the first to respond two minutes later, and the goal drought was broken. Whilst the GIANTS would not kick another major until the final stanza through Emily Bennetts, they restricted the visitors to just three behinds in the final half an hour of action. The dried up scoring mattered little for the Lions however, as they claimed the important win.

Davidson snagged two goals from 10 disposals, four marks and five tackles to be lively in the first half, while Dawes managed the 11 disposals and four tackles to go with her two majors. Emily Bates was the top disposal winner for the Lions, picking up 20 touches, three marks and three tackles, while fellow midfielder Ally Anderson, and All-Australian defender Kate Lutkins racked up the 19 disposals. Tahlia Hickie was influential in the ruck, and Wuetschner was again lively, kicking a goal from 12 touches, three marks and four tackles.

For the GIANTS, Alicia Eva picked up 22 disposals, four marks and two tackles, ahead of Britt Tully (19 disposals, three marks and three tackles). Young gun Alyce Parker was again busy across the game with 16 disposals, two marks and six tackles, as was Rebecca Beeson (16 disposals, four tackles) and another rising star talent in Georgia Garnett (15 disposals, three marks and three tackles). Bennetts not only kicked the final goal of the game, but had 15 disposals and five marks to boot as well. Brisbane Lions set their sights on Collingwood next Sunday at Hickey Park, while the GIANTS head to RSEA Park on Saturday to clash with the Saints in what are both expected to be tight contests.

GWS GIANTS 0.1 | 0.2 | 1.3 | 2.5 (17)
BRISBANE 3.3 | 6.7 | 7.11 | 7.13 (55)

GOALS:
Greater Western Sydney: Smith, Bennetts.
Brisbane: Davidson 2, Dawes 2, Hodder, Wuetschner, Ellenger

DC BEST:
Greater Western Sydney: Eva, Parker, Beeson, Bennetts, Garnett
Brisbane: Davidson, Lutkins, Bates, Dawes, Anderson

Picture credit: via Adelaide FC

ADELAIDE SEND WARNING SHOT WITH RECORD-BREAKING WIN

By: Tom Cheesman

ADELAIDE has continued its strong run of form with a 70-point smashing of Gold Coast at Norwood Oval on Saturday afternoon. The Crows held their opponents scoreless in the first and third terms while piling on 13 goals of their own for the match, an AFLW record. Adelaide controlled the inside 50s (41-19) and were far more efficient with their disposals inside 50 (56 to 37 per cent). Stevie-Lee Thompson (17 disposals, two marks, one goal) provided plenty of run and carry all day for the Crows, while Anne Hatchard (21 disposals, seven tackles, one goal) and Ebony Marinoff (20 disposals, eight tackles) were influential in the midfield. Superstar Erin Phillips and Danielle Ponter kicked six goals (and had 10 scoring shots) between them, while Alison Drennan (29 disposals, seven tackles) and Kalinda Howarth (18 disposals) worked tirelessly for the visitors.

There were major injury issues for both sides in the opening minutes of the contest. First, Adelaide small defender Nikki Gore courageously flew from the side into a marking contest and went down with a suspected ankle fracture. Two minutes later, Gold Coast midfielder Jamie Stanton‘s ankle buckled underneath her when she laid a tackle in her side’s defensive 50. She was taken from the ground on a stretcher and was seen on crutches after the match. Once the match got going, Sarah Allan immediately set the tone for Adelaide in defence. She made a significant impact defensively but also initiated some counterattacking ball movement with effective forward handballs off half-back. Hatchard was able to kick the Crows’ first after a perfect pass from Phillips, and captain Chelsea Randall soccered through her side’s  second soon after.

For the fourth consecutive week, Adelaide held their opponents scoreless in the opening term. Regardless, it was not all doom-and-gloom for the Suns early. Howarth was classy with her ball use coming out of congestion, Kate Surman found plenty of the ball, and Tori Groves-Little took some spectacular marks up forward in her first quarter of the season. The Suns looked positive at the start of the second term, as Daisy D’Arcy found Leah Kaslar on the lead for their first goal of the day. However, the Crows noticed that the Suns were within a goal and quickly got the game back on their terms.

Ash Woodland earned a free for a hold and kicked truly from 30 metres out, and then Chloe Scheer set up Ponter for her first. Second-gamer Rachelle Martin redeemed herself after dropping a mark inside 50 by applying relentless forward pressure, earning a free kick and snapping her first goal in AFLW. Gold Coast’s only chance to score was from centre clearances at this point because, much like St Kilda last Sunday, they were unable to cleanly move the ball out of their defensive 50 through Adelaide’s zone.

In stark contest, Adelaide ran the ball out of their defence very easily, picking holes in Gold Coast’s defence at will. After Ponter and Phillips kicked back-to-back goals, Gold Coast won a centre clearance and got a late goal through Surman. Although Surman and Drennan had a whopping 33 touches between them at the main break, the Crows held a convincing 30-point lead. Ferocious Adelaide player Scheer extended her side’s lead at the start of the third by earning a free and putting through a set shot. Phillips set the ground alight when she unloaded a huge barrel off half-back, but unfortunately for the home fans it went straight to Elizabeth Keaney, who took several intercept marks in the third term. Thompson continued her impressive performance by running onto a loose ball and drilling the Crows’ ninth, and it was very clear that the Suns had no answers on how to stop Adelaide’s momentum.

After some relentless pressure from Teah Charlton and Woodland, Phillips earned a free for being blocked in a marking contest and kicked her second. Things soured for the Crows at the end of the third term, as Hannah Button dislocated her shoulder while reaching to lay a tackle and left the field in the hands of trainers. Adelaide did not slow down to start the fourth, continuing to pepper the goals and refusing to let the ball out of their forward half. This led to Ponter kicking another, this time from a forward 50 stoppage. Soon after, a duck through traffic and clever handball over the shoulder from Phillips set up Ponter for her fourth.

On the other side, all of Gold Coast’s forward movement came through Groves-Little, who got little-to-no support at that end of the ground. When Crows captain Randall got on the end of some unselfish ball movement from Phillips and Thompson to kick her second, Adelaide’s score moved to 85 points, just one behind shy of the highest score in AFLW history (12.14.86 by the 2018 Western Bulldogs). As Adelaide went for the record, the Suns were finally able to lock the ball in their forward 50 for an extended period. Sally Riley had some good moments during this stretch, but the Suns failed to capitalise on her hard work and only added one behind to their total.

After a late end-to-end transition by the Crows, Dee Heslop laid a brilliant tackle on Ponter in the goal square to save a certain score and keep the Bulldogs’ scoring record intact. Regardless, it was a percentage-boosting win that Adelaide’s coaches will be pleased with as they move into the final three rounds of the home and away season.

Next week, Adelaide hit the road to face Melbourne at Casey Fields on Saturday night. Meanwhile, Gold Coast will aim to get their first win of 2021 when they take on the Tigers in a Friday night clash at Metricon.

ADELAIDE 2.1 | 7.2 | 10.5 | 13.7 (85)
GOLD COAST 0.0 | 2.2 | 2.2 | 2.3 (15)

GOALS:
Adelaide: D. Ponter 4, E. Phillips, C. Randall 2, S. Thompson, A. Woodland, R. Martin, C. Scheer, A. Hatchard.
Gold Coast: L. Kaslar, K. Surman.

DC BEST:
Adelaide: S. Thompson, E. Phillips, D. Ponter, A. Hatchard, E. Marinoff
Gold Coast: A. Drennan, T. Groves-Little, K. Howarth, K. Surman, S. Riley

Picture credit: Dylan Burns/AFL Photos

DEES DOWN SAINTS TO KEEP SEASON ALIVE

By: Sophie Taylor

IT was a tight encounter between Melbourne and St Kilda on Saturday night, with both sides looking to get back on the winners list this season after big losses last round. It was the Demons that got a confident and comfortable percentage-boosting victory on the board on home soil at Casey Fields, running out 9.12 (66) to 3.4 (22) victors, credit to a consistent four-quarter effort.

The Dees were on the offensive from the get-go, driving forward and flooding the 50m to lock the ball in attack. It appeared the Melbourne coaching staff were not afraid to switch things up a bit heading into this matchup, with a couple of shaky matches over the last few weeks making for a different approach in the forward line. A classy kick from Maddi Gay hit Daisy Pearce on a lead at the top of the square with the Dees legend putting the first goal of the game through, before minutes later Alyssa Bannan rid herself off her recent goal drought with an excellent running goal to put a second on the board. The Saints were still yet to make it inside their own 50m though despite piling pressure on through midfield, with the Dees making it tough to clear the footy. Gay and Tyla Hanks were never far from the footy as Sainters Tilly Lucas-Rodd and Cat Phillips contested well, while Kate Shierlaw also kept on the pressure around the ground, rarely beaten.

The remainder of the first was hotly contested with Melbourne unable to put a third major on the board despite locking the footy inside 50, and leading 14-0 at the first change. A huge inside 50 from Georgia Patrikios started the second quarter, surging the footy forward, and while it did not work to the Saints’ favour, the effort paid off with the Saints given a couple of chances to put on the scoreboard pressure, all to no avail. An excellent run down midfield from Hanks earned a free kick down field for a late push in the back, with a goal right in front from Shelley Scott undoing all the hard work the Saints had done early to lock the footy inside 50. While she was well held early, Patrikios fired up in the second quarter, throwing herself at the contest and doing everything she could to pile on the pressure around the ground.

The Saints strung some great minutes together in forward 50 as Nat Exon finally put the Saints on the board, reducing the margin and seeing the Saints build up their confidence with a couple more attempts coming in thick and fast but to no avail. The Dees’ midfield was on fire, and led by Hanks and Karen Paxman, they were crucial in quickly and efficiently driving down the centre. A free kick to Tegan Cunningham kept the scoreboard ticking over, seeing an 18-point half-time margin and an intense contest brewing.

A huge first few minutes of the third quarter saw plenty of argy bargy from both sides, with a tough battle through the midfield and Melbourne’s midfielders doing the trick to drive the footy forward, while St Kilda’s defence was just staying ahead of the pack to maintain possession. Lauren Pearce continued her excellent first half efforts utilising her height and footy smarts, before an excellent passage from Eden Zanker saw the forward kick directly to Daisy Pearce at the top of the square once more, before another goal to Bannan saw the second half kick off to an eerily similar way to the beginning of the match, though this time seeing a 31-point margin with 10 left in the third quarter. 

A goal to Jackie Parry saw the Dees extend their lead further, with the remainder of the match played on Melbourne’s terms as Caitlin Greiser was moved down back to help work the Saints back into the match but to no avail as Rosie Dillon, Rhi Watt and Hannah Priest continued to throw themselves into the contest. But it was a second scoreless term for the Saints, trailing by 39 points at the final change. The Dees needed a percentage boost ahead of the remaining three rounds of the season, and that’s what they got as the Saints failed to close the margin.

Zanker continued her solid work across the ground, putting a couple of behinds on the board and worrying the Saints but ultimately unable to find the big sticks, before Eliza McNamara topped off an excellent effort with her maiden goal. A maiden Claudia Whitfort goal reduced the margin a fraction but it was not enough, with the Dees creating a highlight reel up forward with their continuous hunt on the footy, and Kate Hore joining the party inside 50 with some slick skills towards the latter stage of the match. A Tamara Luke goal with just over two minutes of the clock did plenty for the Saints’ work rate but unfortunately not enough to really shake the Dees, with the home side running out 44-point winners credit to a solid four quarter effort.

For the losing side, Priest, Patrikios and Phillips were the leading ball-winners with 17 disposals apiece, and combining for 15 tackles between them. Dillion picked up 12 touches and eight tackles, whilst Watt (15 touches and five marks) also proved crucial. For the Dees, Lauren Pearce was a revelation in the ruck with 22 touches, 21 hitouts, four tackles, four marks and a behind, whilst Hanks (22 and four tackles), Zanker (23, eight marks and three behinds) and Paxman (24 touches)  were also heavily involved in the contest. Daisy Pearce booted her two from 13 touches and six marks, whilst Lily Mithen and Scott piled on the pressure with six tackles each.

The Dees will have their work cut out for them in the remaining three rounds of the season, currently sitting just outside the top six and matches against Adelaide (second), Fremantle (fourth) and Brisbane (first) awaiting. They host Adelaide during the same Saturday evening timeslot in a week’s time, whilst the Saints host the Giants in the early Saturday timeslot at RSEA Park.

MELBOURNE | 2.2 | 4.3 | 7.6 | 9.12 (66)
ST KILDA | 0.0 | 1.3 | 1.3 | 3.4 (22)

GOALS
Melbourne: D. Pearce 2, A. Bannan 2, S. Scott, T. Cunningham, J. Parry, E. McNamara, K. Hore.
St Kilda: N. Exon, C. Whitfort, T. Luke.

DC BEST
Melbourne: L. Pearce, T. Hanks, D. Pearce, E. Zanker, M. Gay
St Kilda: H. Priest, G. Patrikios, C. Phillips, R. Watt, R. Dillon

AFL Women’s Sunday wrap: Dockers extend winning streak to double digits

FREMANTLE continues to set the AFL Women’s benchmark after notching a 30-point win over fellow finals fancy, Adelaide on a cracking afternoon at Norwood Oval on Sunday. The 7.1 (43) to 1.7 (13) result was Freo’s tenth-straight win in the competition and puts the Dockers in top spot with a game left to play in Round 3.

Despite both sides managing an equal amount of scoring shots (eight), it was Fremantle’s superior fluency in transition, unrelenting pressure, and capturing of each vital moment which saw it succeed. The Dockers absorbed plenty of pressure, particularly in the first term before hurting Adelaide up the other end with scoreboard pressure, keeping the Crows goalless for three quarters and ensuring they would be made to earn each opportunity.

The game was well and truly alive just after the main break, but the Crows were left to rue missed chances off the boot of Stevie-Lee Thompson early in term three as Fremantle skipped up the other end and added three majors to their mounting lead to put the contest to bed.

There were a couple of blockbuster contests scattered across the field, with stand-in Adelaide skipper Sarah Allan tasked with marking the dynamic Gemma Houghton, while the ever-reliable Kiara Bowers ensured Crows midfield bull Anne Hatchard was not given an inch in the first half.

Allan was terrific on the day with desperate defensive efforts and solid one-on-one work both in the air and on the ground, but could not keep Houghton quiet for the whole day as she finished with two final term goals. Bowers and Hatchard went blow-for-blow at the coalface and had plenty of bone-crunching clashes as two of their respective sides’ most prolific ball winners.

Bowers was in fact Fremantle’s highest disposal getter with 23 to go with her 13 tackles, as Adelaide’s Ebony Marinoff joined her in leading all comers for touches on the day. Hatchard finished with 21 disposals, while a late move forward for Erin Phillips saw her notch six marks and a goal from 14 touches. In her first officially listed outing, Rachelle Martin was lively with 14 disposals, with Thompson another standout and Teah Charlton exciting in the final term for Adelaide.

Ashley Sharp joined Houghton on two goals upon her return, as the likes of Tiah Haynes and Sabreena Duffy joined her on the scoreboard. The run of Stephanie Cain (15 disposals, six marks) and Ebony Antonio (13 disposals, four inside 50s) was vital in creating more open scoring chances for Fremantle, while the defensive solidity of Janelle Cuthbertson (10 disposals, three marks, four rebound 50s) again proved outstanding in the win.

The Dockers are set to face Gold Coast in Round 4, back on home turf, while Adelaide will look to bounce back quickly as it travels up to Queensland to take on another currently undefeated side in Brisbane at Hickey Park on Sunday.

ADELAIDE 0.2 | 0.2 | 0.5 | 1.7 (13)
FREMANTLE 0.0 | 2.1 | 5.1 | 7.1 (43)

GOALS:

Adelaide: E. Phillips
Fremantle: A. Sharp 2, G. Houghton 2, T. Haynes, B. Webb, S. Duffy

DC BEST:

Adelaide: E. Marinoff, E. Phillips, S. Allan, A. Hatchard, R. Martin, S. Thompson
Fremantle: K. Bowers, E. Antonio, S. Cain, T. Haynes, G. Houghton, A. Sharp

Image Credit: Sarah Reed/AFL Photos

Credit: Mike Owen/Getty Images via AFL Photos

MAGPIES SWOOP EARLY TO DOWN TRADITIONAL RIVALS

COLLINGWOOD maintained its perfect 2021 record in tact on Sunday afternoon, swooping early to down Richmond by 17 points on enemy territory. In what was the first fixture between these two traditional rivals at Punt Road Oval since 1964, the Magpies set up an unassailable lead at three quarter time and held off the fighting Tigers thereafter to run out 7.6 (48) to 4.7 (31) victors.

The young and inexperienced Richmond side was made to pay for missed opportunities, particularly in the second term when the Tigers owned patches of valuable territory and possession, but could only scrounge three behinds while the Magpies added a vital major. Despite some rawness showing inside 50, both sides showed great intent in looking to move the ball forward quickly and catch either defence off guard.

There were three first year players who kicked their first senior goals on the day, with number one pick Ellie McKenzie booting two for Richmond after Collingwood pair, Joanna Lin and Tarni Brown both capitalised on their opportunities close to the big sticks. Lively Magpies forward Aishling Sheridan continued her good form, matching McKenzie with a game-high two majors in the win.

Brittany Bonnici returned one of the finest statlines in Collingwood AFLW history with 31 disposals, 10 marks and four tackles, while fellow midfielders Bri Davey (25 disposals, seven tackles, one goal) and Jaimee Lambert (25 disposals, six inside 50s) were also impactful from the engine room. Chloe Molloy worked into the game to finish with a goal from her 12 touches, as Ruby Schleicher again impressed down back with slicing run-and-carry among her 17 disposals and five rebound 50s.

For Richmond, Monique Conti again saw the most ball with 25 disposals, while the likes of Katie Brennan (17 disposals, five marks, six inside 50s) and McKenzie (12 disposals, five tackles, two goals) finished extremely well to lead the fruitless Tigers fightback. Sarah Hosking proved a bright starter before landing on 15 touches overall, while Harriet Cordner continues to hold up the defence and Gabby Seymour gets better each week in the ruck. Debutant Tessa Lavey also fit in seamlessly, gathering 15 disposals from the wing.

The Tigers face another of their traditional rivals in Carlton as Round 4 rolls on, set to light up Saturday afternoon at Princes Park, while Collingwood faces its toughest test yet in a blockbuster clash with North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium on Saturday night.

RICHMOND 1.0 | 1.3 | 2.4 | 4.7 (31)
COLLINGWOOD 3.0 | 4.2 | 7.6 | 7.6 (48)

GOALS:

Richmond: E. McKenzie 2, C. Wakefield, T. Stahl
Collingwood: A. Sheridan 2, B. Davey, S. Alexander, J. Lin, T. Brown, C. Molloy

BEST:

Richmond: M. Conti, E. McKenzie, K. Brennan, S. Hosking, T. Lavey, G. Seymour
Collingwood: J. Lambert, B. Davey, B. Bonnici, A. Sheridan, C. Molloy, R. Schleicher

2021 AFLW Preview: Adelaide Crows

ADELAIDE will aim to catapult itself back into premiership contention after an injury-riddled 2020 season. Head coach Matthew Clarke has made some major changes to his coaching staff, with club greats Scott Thompson and Tom Lynch joining the panel. The trio will restock Adelaide’s side with a number of returning premiership stars.

2020 RECAP
The Crows finished sixth in Conference A last year, winning just two of their six matches. Premiership players Chelsea Randall and Chloe Scheer missed the entire season with anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstructions, while Deni Varnhagen and superstar Erin Phillips only played three matches between them as they returned from their own respective knee issues. Injuries to several other players meant that the Crows were forced to blood more and more youngsters as the season progressed. Adelaide’s two wins came early in the season against St Kilda and Geelong, two sides that did not qualify for finals in 2020. Realistically, the Crows just struggled to move the ball from end to end and failed to apply enough pressure on opposition sides.

A shining light throughout 2020 was midfielder Anne Hatchard, who won their best and fairest and made the AFLW All-Australian side after averaging 25 disposals, six tackles and three inside 50s per game. Tackling machine Ebony Marinoff was effective alongside her at the clearances, but the pair did not get much help from the Crows’ wingers or forwards, particularly late in the season. Sarah Allan was the side’s other strong performer, as she led Adelaide’s defence well and was rewarded with a spot in the All-Australian side.

NEW FACES
Lively forward Jess Sedunary returns to the club after playing one season for expansion side St Kilda. Sedunary was a premiership player for the Crows in 2017 and is a proven goalkicker at senior level. Although she is coming off a broken fibula and may take some time to reach full strength, she will bring a wealth of leadership and experience to the group. Former Giant Lisa Whiteley will be an important addition to the Crows’ defence, while young winger Hannah Munyard, who has good pace and skills, provides some much-needed depth after playing three games for the Bulldogs in her debut season.

Draftees Teah Charlton, Rachelle Martin and Ash Woodland are three readymade recruits that should make an immediate impact for the club. Charlton, taken with pick four in the AFLW Draft, is a talented midfielder and half-forward from South Adelaide with goal sense, effective ball use, overhead marking ability and aggression. Expect her to be in the running for the NAB AFLW Rising Star Award. Midfielder Martin won the South Australian National Football League Women’s (SANFLW) 2020 best and fairest award (alongside Hatchard) and played a match for the Crows last year as an injury-replacement player. Flexible utility Woodland gained AFLW experience for Melbourne in 2019 before winning North Adelaide’s best and fairest award last year in a premiership side. She also won the SANFLW Leading Goalkicker award in 2020.

With Randall, Scheer, Varnhagen, Hannah Button, Rhiannon Metcalfe and Phillips all set for full seasons this year after serious injuries in 2020, they can be considered ‘new faces’ as well. On the other hand, Adelaide loses veteran Courtney Gum along with premiership players Jess Foley, Courtney Cramey and Sophie Li to retirement.

ONE TO WATCH IN 2021
Chelsea Randall is the one to watch. She is arguably the most courageous defender in AFLW and her skills, leadership and football IQ were sorely missed last year. With Randall positioned alongside Allan and Marijana Rajcic in defence, Adelaide should prove very difficult to score against.

Justine Mules is the other Crow to keep an eye on. She finished third in Adelaide’s 2020 best and fairest count after averaging 11 disposals, two tackles and two inside 50s per game. The two-time premiership player has shown continuous improvement since her debut season and looks set to have a major impact on a wing in 2021.

WHY THEY CAN WIN IT
Two words: premiership experience. With 19 premiership players on their list, the Crows have more of these than any other side in the competition. This experience will prove valuable in finals, and it is well known that the Crows’ top names are made for the biggest stage. With numerous young players rising up the ranks and some veterans nearing the end of their careers, the hunger to recapture premiership glory should be there as well.

QUESTION MARK
Adelaide’s lack of depth is their biggest question mark. This was exposed last season following injuries to their franchise players, as the young Crows struggled to hold up their end of the bargain. However, this experience could prove valuable for the inexperienced players as they should now be more comfortable competing at senior level. Additionally, the inclusions of Sedunary, Whiteley, Munyard and the draftees should help improve their depth.

FINAL WORD
A line-up that includes Randall, Marinoff, Hatchard, Phillips and Allan is a scary proposition for any opposition side. The Crows have elite talents all across the ground and should catapult back into finals contention, but it is unclear whether they are truly premiership contenders. Fremantle, North Melbourne and Carlton were the best sides in 2020 and deserve favouritism ahead of the Crows at this stage.

Much of Adelaide’s hopes depend on the fitness and agility of the seasoned players returning from injury. Their forward line was the main area that struggled last year, as they often failed to lock the ball inside their forward 50 and relied far too heavily on Stevie-Lee Thompson, Eloise Jones and Danielle Ponter. The returns of Scheer, Phillips, Sedunary and Button should help spread the workload in this area.

We we will learn more about the Crows’ premiership aspirations when their season gets underway on the 30th of January against the Demons.



For more AFLW news and analysis, follow Tom Cheesman on Twitter.

Picture: Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images

SANFL Women’s season review: West Adelaide

WEST ADELAIDE is the next team up in our South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s season review series as we look at the eight sides in reverse ladder order and how their 2020 seasons went down.

Position: 3rd
Wins: 6
Losses: 5
Draws: 1

2020 IN A NUTSHELL

West Adelaide enjoyed a successful season in 2020, going all the way to a Preliminary Final. The Bloods had no played in a finals series previously, but saved their best game for the elimination final when they piled on the highest score in their club’s history. They went down to South Adelaide the next week, but can be proud with how they played this year, and certainly showed huge signs of improvement and will be a serious contender in 2021.

AFL WOMEN’S ALL-STARS GAME REPRESENTATIVES:

Emma Smith

Is a clever outside player who generally uses the ball well between midfield and attack. She is often seen running down the wing and creating things going inside 50, and uses good vision to spot up free targets and short kicks to open up space.

Zoe Venning

Strong overhead and a fierce attack on the ball, the mid-forward had a really good season in 2020, becoming one of West Adelaide’s top players despite still being a middle-age prospect. She can find her own footy easily, and as she showed in the All-Stars game, is quick on the lead and strong overhead.

Abbie Ballard

Possessing a lethal left foot, Ballard loves the contested side of things and just attacks the ball and the ball carrier. She can play inside or down forward, and has such superb defensive pressure, but also capable of playing an outside role too. Despite not being tall, she is not afraid to take on players much bigger than herself in a tackle.

Rachael Martin

The league’s top player this season, Martin earned a train-on invitation with the Crows and even got a game early in the year given Adelaide’s injury list. More than capable of playing at the top level, Martin is just a natural ball winner with elite defensive pressure and a knack around goals or creating goals for other players. A deserving equal league best and fairest in 2020. Unfortunately she was unavailable for the All-Stars game but showed enough this season to show clubs what she can do.

OTHERS WHO STOOD OUT:

  • Madison Newman
  • Stevie-Lee Thompson
  • Keeley Kustermann
  • Chelsea Biddell
  • Lauren Rodato
  • Kate Walsh
  • Zoe Greer

There was no shortage of talent across the Bloods list in 2020, with defender, Madison Newman and Keeley Kustermann providing great run and balance, and elite skills coming out of the back 50. They flanked captain Lauren Rodato who was reliable as ever there, making it difficult for most opposition attacks. Looking through the midfield, Stevie-Lee Thompson and Zoe Greer were superb, while Kate Walsh had a breakout season in the ruck, and Chelsea Biddell provided a presence when in attack.

Summary

West Adelaide won a maiden final and showed how exciting the Bloods can be with some great attacking football. They had plenty of youth mixed with their AFL Women’s experience, and it made for a really strong season and something to build on for 2021.

Picture: SANFL

2020 SANFL Women’s Grand Final preview: North Adelaide vs. South Adelaide

TWELVE months ago – or more accurately 16 months ago given the COVID-19 pandemic postponement – South Adelaide and North Adelaide faced off in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s decider. Fast forward to 2020 and the same two sides oppose each other to determine this year’s premier in South Australia’s top women’s competition. The two best sides have made it through to the decider, and in Draft Central‘s preview, we take a look at the teams and where the game could be one, and some of the key questions coming out of it.

2020 FORM

North Adelaide come in as the clear favourites in this game simply because they are undefeated in 2020. South Adelaide are the next best side in it though, having only lost to the Roosters this year, first back in Round 4 prior to the SANFL Women’s postponement, and then a fortnight ago in the semi-final. Having backed up from that loss with an imposing win over an confident West Adelaide side, the Panthers will back themselves in to finally topple the Roosters.

The key questions

Can North Adelaide go undefeated in season 2020?

It might not be spoken about as the main aim – and nor it should be – in 2020, because at the end of the day, it does not matter how they are won, as long as they can get the job done. Eleven games in and the Roosters are yet to taste defeat, though they are likely to remember their last loss – the 2019 decider against the Panthers – and be keen to go one better this year.

Could South Adelaide achieve a three-peat?

Anything with the list the Panthers have is achievable. But they will need to rekindle their best form to get up in the match. They have the experience to follow through and get it done, but their opposition is formidable. The Panthers defence showed in the semi-final that it can contain the best of forward lines, and that effort will need to be repeated again here.

Who goes to Anne Hatchard?

There will not necessarily be a hard tag on Hatchard who has the running ability to just power away from her opponents, but Nicole Campbell did well in stints on Stevie-Lee Thompson and might be the player for the job again. Last time they met, Hatchard ran rampant and was clearly best afield, and while you cannot stop her getting her 30-odd touches a game, limiting them to non dangerous areas – ie. out of the stoppages particularly in the forward half – is a must.

Where does South Adelaide have the advantage?

The unpredictability and speed inside 50 is what sets the Panthers aside from many other teams. Jess Kirk is a leading forward and reliable in front of the big sticks, but a lot of the Panthers goals come from finding space inside 50 and lowering the eyes to hit targets from midfielders dropping back, or just by working the ball forward and creating something out of nothing. They can build from defence and run down the ground with speed.

Where does North Adelaide have the advantage?

The midfield is quite simply elite. South Adelaide’s is unbelievable, but the Roosters have the lot with Hatchard, Ash Woodland and Hannah Ewings, as well as Leah Tynan, Katelyn Pope and Erica Greet all capable of rotating through there. The South defence is well structured and back themselves one-on-one, but the Roosters have so many scoring options inside 50 and the midfielders usually pick the right option.

Line-by-line

North Adelaide defence vs. South Adelaide attack

The Roosters defence is tall compared to their opponents, with Kristi Harvey, Amber Ward and Talia Radan all capable of taking contested marks. It means the Panthers cannot afford to kick long and high inside 50. What they need is opening up space to allow one-on-ones because Kirk will struggle to be beaten on the lead, but in a one-on-one contest Harvey for example would take the chocolates. The half-forwards push up to the wings, with Indy Tahau and Gypsy Schirmer able to rotate with the likes of Teah Charlton and Cheyenne Hammond, which creates havoc with matchups. A chaos ball inside 50 while not perfect could help the Panthers at ground level, though Julia Clark and Lauren Gauci have been capable rebounders.

North Adelaide attack vs. South Adelaide defence

Up the other end, the matchups are a dream, with both sides having a number of in-between heights that could play the role of talls or smalls. Britt Perry is the one the Roosters love getting the ball too because of her reliability in front of the big sticks, while Cristie Castle continues to run all day. The pure speed of the attack such as Pope and Ewings might be a key reason why Hannah Munyard has been named in defence this week. She can match those quick players and also take the game on out of the back half, even though she is also capable of hitting the scoreboard up the other end. Woodland will spend time up forward, and like rotate with Ewings, while the South defence of Jaslynne Smith, Lisa Whiteley and Lauren Buchanan in particular is incredibly consistent.

The midfield battle

Starting in the ruck, the Panthers have a couple of young guns in Montana McKinnon and Brooklyn Kraft rotating through there. McKinnon has been getting better each week since returning from injury and capable of taking contested marks around the ground providing strong second efforts. She will be opposed to Bek Rasheed in the middle, with Kendall Howell named as backup on an extended bench. Rasheed has been terrific in her debut season for the Roosters and will need to work McKinnon hard around the ground and be offensively dangerous. The midfield has already been touches on for the Roosters, but for South, Hammond has been a really strong user of the ball, while Tahlia Meyer might be one of the best decision makers in the competition with her low darts inside 50 last week setting up so many scoring opportunities. With Elyse Haylock and Czenya Cavouras also running through there and the speed of Nikki Gore and Munyard, the South side will have no issues batting deep through the middle.

Teams

Prediction

Much like two weeks ago, it would take a brave prediction to go against the Roosters but this build up is going to special. The best team of the year against the best team of the past couple of years. Expect the game to go down to the wire and there be less than a kick between the sides by the final siren. With the Panthers likely to do all they can to restrict Hatchard, expect an Ewings or Woodland to be among the Most Valuable Player (MVP) contenders, while Tahau showed last year they are not afraid to give it to youth, and she and Charlton, along with Munyard and Gore would also be among the contenders if the Panthers get up.

Picture: SANFL/Deb Curtis

SANFL Women’s League Best & Fairest preview

TONIGHT is the night that the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s Best and Fairest award is run and won ahead of Sunday afternoon’s decider. From 7.45pm, the league will announce its top player of the season, as well as the SANFL Women’s Team of the Year. North Adelaide’s Ashleigh Woodland already claimed the leading goalkicker award this season, and is among a host of favourites for the overall gong.

CENTRAL DISTRICT:

Top Contender: Shelby Smith

The midfielder played consistent four quarter football throughout the season to be named among her team’s best seven of a possible 10 times this year. The only issue for her will be that Central only won a couple of games, so if she picks up votes it will be the minor votes. Still a ripping season.

Other contenders: Demi Sonneman, Katelyn Rosenzweig, Sarah Allan

Last year’s club best and fairest winner in Sonneman has held up at full-back throughout the year and has dash and dare which catches the umpire’s eye. Rosenzweig was unstoppable when on fire and took out the club’s leading goalkicker award again with 14 majors in 10 games, while Allan only played the six games, but will no doubt pick up some votes as she was among the best on ground even in some losses.

GLENELG:

Top Contender: Caitlin Gould

The Bays are a tough one to determine because they had players that stepped up in different games, but probably not enough, nor enough wins to really cement a standout player for the award. Gould is one who catches the eye with her ruck work, forward craft and goalkicking, and she played seven games which is more than the other AFL Women’s talent on the list.

Other possible contenders: Madisyn Freeman, Sam Franson, Ellie Kellock

It was a very even team performance this year from Glenelg, and hard to determine who will take the votes. It is imagined that they will split the votes very evenly this season, with teenager Freeman always a popular one with the coaches – eight of 10 bests – as well as the tenacious Franson working hard, and Kellock rotating between midfield and defence.

NORTH ADELAIDE:

Top Contender: Ash Woodland

Coming off a brilliant season where Woodland claimed the SANFL Women’s goalkicking award, the mid/forward also shone being named among the best in nearly all of her matches. She looms as the top chance from the minor premiership-winning side, but in terms of votes, expect it to be spread.

Other possible contenders: Hannah Ewings, Anne Hatchard, Katelyn Pope

Legitimately there could be a list into double-digits such is the depth of the club. Hatchard should rack up multiple best on grounds and despite only playing the five games, could pick up double-digit votes easily. Ewings is eye-catching with her speed and ability to hit the scoreboard, with the 16-year-old having a remarkable debut season. Pope is another who catches the eye with her run down the wings, but she played a couple less games than the others which may hurt the voting chances.

NORWOOD:

Top Contender: Matilda Zander

Much like North Adelaide, the players will share votes and it could well be one of a number of players who gets lucky enough to poll plenty. In this case we have opted for Zander because of her ability to hit the scoreboard, provide forward pressure and also run around the ground. But there could be half a dozen names that deserve to be there.

Other possible contenders: Sophie Armitstead, Najwa Allen, Jess Macolino

Last year’s winner in Allen always has to be considered given it is proven she catches the umpire’s eye. With only six games this season though, will it be enough? She had others who will fight for votes off her such as the reliable Armitstead who could really be a surprise packet for the Redlegs in the vote count, while Macolino burst onto the scene late and was named in the best in each of her six games.

SOUTH ADELAIDE:

Top Contender: Teah Charlton

It feels like even when Charlton is not amongst the best players on the ground, she does something that catches the eye in the match that umpires will remember later. While it is hard to pick how South’s votes will go down with so many players lining up, Charlton will no doubt be amongst it given how much ball she wins and can kick goals.

Other possible contenders: Tahlia Meyer, Indy Tahau, Nicole Campbell

As already mentioned, it is likely players will take votes off each other with the greatest depth going through the list. Meyer might be the most consistent of the lost each week, whiler Campbell managed the eight games which should be enough for votes ahead of some other AFL Women’s talents. Tahau always does something that features in the highlights so will naturally attract votes.

STURT:

Top Contender: Zoe Prowse

The 2021 AFL Women’s Draft prospect might be a sneaky chance here, but it will depend on how favourable the umpires are to giving votes in a losing team effort. Prowse was by far the most dominant ruck in the competition for a stretch with her athleticism and consistency despite being overwhelmed on the scoreboard, which is where it might not quite be enough as the votes will likely be minor ones.

Other possible contenders: Georgia Bevan, Maya Rigter, Kate Harris

The co-captains were consistent all year and Bevan will arguably attract the most, potentially even more than Prowse given league best and fairests are midfielder’s awards. Rigter has worked hard throughout the season, while Harris has stepped up playing every game and was named amongst the best six times.

WEST ADELAIDE:

Top Contender: Rachelle Martin

For the overall winner, our prediction is pocket rocket Martin. The uncompromising midfielder was named among the best just about every single week and deservedly so. She made our Team of the Week seven times, and the Westies won more than enough games to suggest she will pick up some threes for best on ground.

Other possible contenders: Zoe Venning, Maddie Newman, Stevie-Lee Thompson

When it comes to umpire votes, it is often those who catch the eye the most, and the Bloods have no shortage of players that fit the bill. Venning had a huge season through the midfield and playing forward, Newman has a super boot that you cannot miss, and Thompson was a match winner on more than one occasion. They might split the votes as a team.

WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS:

Top Contender: Kiana Lee

The Eagles were the most even team in terms of best players this season in our opinion, and Lee just gets the nod for her work at both ends. Kicking 11 goals in 10 games, which included playing out of full-back late in the year, her contested marking and long kicking will no doubt be something the umpires look at for votes.

Other possible contenders: Jovanka Zecevic, Tesharna Maher, Amie Blanden

It is hard to pinpoint those who will take the votes given the evenness of the team, but Zecevic was one of the most consistent Eagles throughout the year, Maher provided line-breaking speed out of defence, and Blanden was always solid through the middle going forward.

PREDICTION:

It is far from obvious which way the votes will go this year, but our tip is West Adelaide’s Rachelle Martin who had the most consistent season of any player, and was able to play every game. Others who will challenge her include Teah Charlton, Ash Woodland, Anne Hatchard and possibly Zoe Prowse.

SANFL Women’s weekly wrap: Preliminary Final – South salutes to setup North rematch

SOUTH Adelaide has given itself the chance to record a remarkable three-peat after downing a determined yet unlucky West Adelaide in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s Preliminary Final. The Panthers weathered the early pressure and then got away in the third term, holding off a Bloods outfit in their first ever finals series to record a comfortable 30-point win at Thebarton Oval.

Given the early stages of the game, spectators were not to know which side had the finals experience as West Adelaide brought all the heat to really control play early in the contest. Unfortunately despite forward pressure, the Bloods could not seemingly put one through the big sticks. Abbie Ballard and Rachelle Martin were controlling play at half-forward as the ball did not go past the half-back line for the Panthers as West continually drove the ball inside. Stevie-Lee Thompson looked dangerous in the early stages with a few early chances, while Emma Smith and Chelsea Biddell pumped the ball in deep. Amber James had a chance from straight in front, but her kick skewed to the right.

For all of the Bloods great work, the worst possible scenario happened as the Panthers – with their first inside 50 of the contest – got the ball long and deep, and off a chaos ball inside 50 from Indy Tahau, Hannah Munyard read the ball perfectly off the contest and boot a major against the run of flow at the 10-minute mark of the term. West Adelaide had dominated play but failed to land a meaningful blow, and the reining champions, stunned but not knocked out, showed just what they were capable of. The work of Czenya Cavouras in the back half with her tackling pressure, and Nikki Gore and Munyard through the middle was proving the difference. Tahau almost had a chance herself on the siren, but the ball just slipped from her grasp in the dying seconds.

Tahlia Meyer was arguably one of the most influential on the ground with a terrific pass straight to Jess Kirk in the last 90 seconds though the usually reliable Kirk missed from straight in front, giving the Bloods a let off and only a three-point deficit. After one quarter of play, the Bloods were plus seven on the inside 50s count, but could not put through a major. Then, like a wounded champion that was ready for the counter attack, South Adelaide struck three times in the second term to instead turn the tables on their young opponent and head into the main break with a 21-point lead.

Again it was Meyer who was hitting targets left, right and centre, and when she combined with Kirk for a second time three minutes into the term, the Panthers leading goalkicker made no mistake. An unlucky in-the-back call against Emma Smith deep in defence handed the talented Teah Charlton an easy set shot from 25m out on a slight angle, and she would make it two before the half-time siren. Alexandra Mason had a chance up the other end for the Bloods but her shot from 35m came off hands and rushed through, with work from Munyard a couple of minutes later off the back of a density free kick got it to Charlton who controlled it, kept it in front of her and she kicked the easiest of goals.

South had regained control of the contest with tackling cameos from Gypsy Schirmer and Madison Bennett following the lead of Gore and Munyard through the middle, while Nicole Campbell locked down the dangerous Thompson, limiting her influence. While Martin and Ballard were a couple of standouts, the Bloods could not quite match the Panthers in the second term. Just when the game looked like the sting was out of it in the third term – with West struggling to get it deep and South happy to play controlled football – Biddell worked some of her magic with a monster goal from 50m to sail past the charging back Munyard’s hand on the line, giving her team a small sniff. There was only about 23 minutes left in the match at that stage, but the vital goal drew the Westies to within 15 points.

Munyard was continually getting busy, and while Thompson had a chance to make it two for the Westies, the shot close to goal went a mile in the air and stayed in. The Bloods were getting frustrated by the lack of scoreboard pressure, and Madison Newman and Biddell both gave away 25m penalties, with the last kick of the term going to Charlton for her third. From 35m out she fancied her chances as she came in and began the celebration of icing the game on the siren, only for her shot to cannon into the post as she tried to disguise the premature celebration. Nonetheless, South had a handy lead of 16 points, even with West chewing back a little thanks to the sole goal in the term.

West threw everything they had at South early in the term, but the Bloods were still rushing their kicks inside 50s, and could only muster a couple of behinds. The tackling pressure of South remained, and the likes of Gore, Munyard and Meyer were superb. A forward stoppage six minutes in had the Panthers set up perfectly with the ball falling to Elyse Haylock who slammed it on the boot and sent her team into the grand final with 11 minutes remaining on the clock. Six minutes later, Kirk kicked her second and put the icing on a delicious cake for the second placed side, recording an impressive 6.6 (42) to 1.6 (12) victory to butter up and prepare for the undefeated North Adelaide next week.

SOUTH ADELAIDE 1.1 | 4.2 | 4.4 | 6.6 (42)
WEST ADELAIDE 0.4 | 0.5 | 1.5 | 1.6 (12)

GOALS:

South: T. Charlton 2, J. Kirk 2, H. Munyard, E. Haylock.
West: C. Biddell.

ADC BEST:

South: T. Meyer, H. Munyard, T. Charlton, N. Gore, C. Cavouras
West: R. Martin, A. Ballard, S. Thompson, C. Biddell, E. Smith

SANFL Women’s Finals preview: Preliminary Final – South Adelaide vs. West Adelaide

TWO teams with contrasting finals records face off in the 2020 South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s preliminary final tomorrow, as reigning back-to-back premiers South Adelaide take on finals newbies, West Adelaide. The Panthers have a decorated finals history, coming from second last season to win their second consecutive title, knocking off minor premiers Norwood, and third placed North Adelaide along the way. West Adelaide is in unchartered territory. Having never made a SANFL Women’s finals series prior to 2020, the Bloods are here to make waves and they certainly did that in the semi-final with a stunning victory over Norwood to turn around a run of form that included back-to-back losses.

Interestingly enough, West Adelaide lost to Norwood in Round 9 of the season, and then beat them in the first week of finals, just two weeks later. In an eerily similar coincidental matchup, the Bloods lost to South Adelaide in Round 10 of the season, and tomorrow’s match is two weeks since then. Could the Bloods cause an upset and send the Panthers out in straight sets like South Adelaide did to the Redlegs 12 months earlier? It is possible, but the Panthers are a side that are hard to beat. Even against North Adelaide, it genuinely took four quarter to shake off the Panthers, and the Roosters have had their opponents on ice by half-time more often than not. The defence of South Adelaide is elite, and nearly all the midfielders can play forward and hit the scoreboard, which is something the West Adelaide defence must be wary of. Up the other end, West Adelaide is more than capable of kicking a big score, but inaccuracy has hurt the Bloods in the second half of the season, so they will need to back up from last week and continue that run of goalkicking form against South here if they are to win.

YOUNG TALENT:

Anyone interested in the future stars of the AFL Womens – both current young guns on lists and future ones – then this game is perfect. South Adelaide’s Teah Charlton and Indy Tahau are the two top-age members of the AFL Women’s National Academy, and they are not hard to spot because they often have the footy in their hands. Charlton is a ball-winner who can play anywhere on the field, but when she has space in front of her, or an ability to jump, then she is as damaging as they come. Tahau is similar, she has some additional height, but incredible athleticism for her size, and she is not afraid to take the game on. A strong contested mark, Tahau can set plays up or be on the end of it, and quite often the two find each other in passages down the field. Speaking of close bonds, you do not need to look much further than recent draftees, Nikki Gore and Hannah Munyard taken in the past two drafts. Munyard will now join Gore at West Lakes after a season at the Bulldogs, and the pair have a habit of linking up, with similar speed and hardness around the ball and on the outside. Gore will tend to play more inside, while Munyard is let loose on a wing or inside 50, and her form of the past few weeks has been as good as anyone’s.

Looking at the youth of West Adelaide, and current Crow Madison Newman is one of the elite players of the competition. Her penetrating kick can carry 50m with ease and it is not far-fetched to say she is the best long-range kick in the competition. Still only a teenager and only one season into her AFL Women’s career, she has a bright future ahead of her. The potential for her to lineup on fellow South Australian representative, Munyard could be exciting in many ways with both competitive beasts on the field despite being friends off it. On the other half-back flank is a player who still has a couple of years left in the system, but Keeley Kustermann would be one of the brightest stars for the 2022 draft when looking ahead. Having a nice balance of offensive and defensive traits, as well as footy smarts and composure, she is already shaping up to be a terrific player in years to come. West Adelaide also have in-and-under midfielder Abbie Ballard, and future star Zoe Venning who both roll through the midfield or up forward. They are often amongst their best players and along with Emma Smith who was impressive last week, do well across that half-forward line.

AFL WOMENS STARS

Anyone tuning in for the first time to the competition will know a few familiar faces from AFL Women’s, with Stevie-Lee Thompson the most known of the Crows players having won the AFLW leading goalkicker in 2019. She will line-up for West Adelaide and spends a lot of time through the midfield, but as she showed last week, went forward and kicked 3.2 to be the match winner. Newman and versatile utility Chelsea Biddell are also in the red and black, with the latter playing forward as the team’s leading goalkicker in 2020. A couple of players who have thrown on a Crows jumper before are 2017 AFLW premiership player Rachael Killian, and train-on player Rachelle Martin. The Two Westies are important players, with Martin tipped to win the club best and fairest such is her consistency throughout the year. To give you a taste, she racked up 25 touches, three marks, 10 tackles, six clearances and booted a goal last week. Killian was quieter, but still provided a contest and has been known to hit cleanly between the big sticks. South Adelaide has even more AFLW listed players, with Gore and Munyard already mentioned, but GIANT-cum-Crow Lisa Whiteley playing a superb role in defence, while Nicole Campbell is another Crows midfielder who stands out at SANFL Women’s level. Cheyenne Hammond is crucial player adding extra class and runs around for Gold Coast in the AFL Women’s, while Czenya Cavouras was in the same boat as Martin in 2020, signed as a train-on player for the Crows. Meanwhile young ruck and last year’s first round selection Montana McKinnon stands tall through the middle for the Panthers.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Turning the clock back to the two meetings between the sides this season, South Adelaide has got up in both, with the Round 7 match ending up a forgettable one when it came to goalkicking as the Panthers kicked 3.11 (29) to win against the Bloods’ 1.8 (14), as Charlton booted two goals to be the difference between the sides, while Thompson and Kustermann were impressive for the losers. Three weeks later and only a fortnight ago, the Panthers goy up again, but only narrowly as they held on to win 4.5 (29) to 1.6 (12). The defence was key for the Panthers as Jaslynne Smith, Lauren Buchanan and Samantha Pratt were all amongst the best, while Helen Maidment stepped up for the Bloods, and Venning was good through the forward half as well.

WHAT DOES EACH SIDE DO WELL?

Both sides are very strong defensively despite being able to score freely. The Panthers are well structured enough to get numbers back in defence and help out teammates, even if that means running off an opponent, or a midfielder dropping back into the hole to provide extra assistance. They are a side that plays as a team and are really confident of their own ability to get the job done each and every week. Even when down you can never count the Panthers out, and teams cannot afford to just bomb and hope, or muck around with the ball inside 50 for too long. West Adelaide might have to push forwards higher up to open up space inside 50 and reduce congestion, then find the short targets when on the counter attack to limit the effectiveness of the Panthers back six.

West Adelaide’s half-back line is right up there with the best, and the Bloods look to get it into the hands of Kustermann, and in particular Newman. Once Newman can get her boot to it, the ball is long gone and the Westies are on the attack, so the Panthers need to find a way to quell Newman – they tended to put her under more pressure in Round 10 – to avoid easy exit out of their forward 50. The Bloods need to be able to free her up, and also keep structured, because when they have lost in the past, it is either because they tended to lose a bit of shape with their formation, or just could not kick straight. Both areas are within their control, so aside from keeping a firm formation, the Bloods have to make their chances count. Their midfield gives the forwards plenty of goalscoring opportunities, so they cannot afford to squander them.

WHO WINS?

It would be very dangerous to tip against South Adelaide given what the Panthers have achieved. On paper, the Panthers have won twice against their opponents, they are the back-to-back reigning champions and love this time of year. West Adelaide has nothing to lose as the underdogs, but when watching them, the Bloods can go one of two ways. They tend to either look like a team that could score heavily and quickly to roll over any team on their day, but then they can also tend to miss gettable opportunities and proverbially shoot themselves in the foot. If West Adelaide plays to its potential, this is going to be an absolute ripping contest. The Bloods often start fairly well, where the Panthers come home strong, but if the Westies are to cause an upset, they have to kick more than one goal on the board as they did the last couple of matches against this opposition. This match is not to be missed.