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SANFL Women’s Round 6 preview: Sunday clashes ones to watch in huge round of action

NOW the first games have been done and won, the eight South Australian National Football League (SANFL) teams return for Round 2 in what is a blockbuster round of action. Sunday’s games in particular – between West Adelaide and Sturt, and North Adelaide and Glenelg – are ones to watch.

NORWOOD VS. WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS
Saturday, July 4, 11.50am
Coopers Stadium

Opening up the round is a clash between fourth placed Norwood and sixth placed Woodville-West Torrens Eagles. The Redlegs made their way into fourth win an impressive win over Central District last week, leapfrogging Sturt into a finals position at the midpoint of the season. The Eagles have been close in each match they have played, but still remain with just the one win. A victory and a Sturt loss would see the Eagles move up to fifth on the table, whilst a Norwood win would see them draw level with the Bloods if Sturt can get up, or go a full three points clear inside the top four if as expected, West Adelaide wins against the Double Blues.

In terms of changes, the Redlegs have made just the one confirmed change with Lindsay Bigg the only confirmed out of the side, whilst Elisha Gallagher and Bella Smith return in what will be a good boost for the side. The Eagles have made at least two forced changes, with both Stephanie Walker and Natasha Holmes out of the match through injury. Adding to an extended bench for thew visiting side is Bronwyn Davey, Brooke Mullen, Jaida Tabb and Eli Gianakis all named.

For the Eagles to win, their top notch tackling pressure will need to be on show again, and the inclusion of Renee Forth last week added a touch of class to a fiercely defensive side. Tesharna Maher and Jovanka Zecevic impressed in the first round back after a long lay-off, whilst the inclusion of Tabb – the sister of Adelaide’s Jaimi – will show off some of he future talent on the list. One player who will be looking to have a bigger influence on the contest this week is forward, Kiana Lee who can be really influential on her day.

Norwood just has a lot of good solid talent across the park, with some serious young X-factor such as Matilda Zander and Mattea Breed who have plenty of potential to keep developing their football. Given arguably the league’s best ruckman in Leah Cutting is doing her thing and Najwa Allen and Monique Hollick are back in the side, there is plenty to like about Norwood’s premiership credentials. Smith has been named at centre half-back and will be one to watch, whilst Alison Ferrall proved a handful up forward last week booting three goals, the same as Breed.

Norwood head into this as favourites and should win, but the Eagles always make life difficult for opposition teams with their defensive pressure.

 

SOUTH ADELAIDE VS. CENTRAL DISTRICT
Saturday, July 4, 3.30pm
Flinders University Stadium

Reigning back-to-back champions South Adelaide welcome Central District to Flinders University Stadium in a match the Panthers will be keen to win well. They were pushed all the way by Glenelg last weekend, while Central District had its chances but could not convert enough to really threaten Norwood. Heading into this game, South sit second on the table only behind the top of the table Roosters, whilst the Bulldogs are in last, but a win would see them get off the bottom of the table.

Central has the less complicated changes of the teams, with young talent Kimberley Fry the only confirmed out of the side for tomorrow’s match. Emma Keys, Keely Cannizzaro and Amber James are the three players named in an extended squad. The Panthers have been forced to make five changes with some big names out through injury or work. Czenya Cavouras and Elke Jarvis both have work commitments and will miss the game, while an injured trio in captain Lauren Buchanan, Courtney Barry and Elyse Haylock are all out. Naturally South Adelaide has named seven players as possible replacements, including Emily Brockhurst, Sheena Peters, Brianna Wedding and Lauren Clifton who were all named on the field for the clash.

What makes the Panthers so strong in the depth within the starting line-up and very few weaknesses. Glenelg was able to get on top at times last week, but it took some AFL Women’s talent to break down South Adelaide. Then the likes of Nikki Gore, Hannah Munyard and Jess Kirk all fought back to have important roles through the inside midfield, outside midfield and forward line respectively. Add in the fact that the Panthers won without a huge contribution from star young gun Teah Charlton – who started to get going late in the contest, and there is a reason they have been so successful of late. In the absence of Buchanan, Jaslynne Smith and Samantha Pratt have some big jobs ahead of them.

The Bulldogs were gallant at times last week and never looked completely out of the contest. Katelyn Rosenzweig is always a danger up forward with her strong hands and penetrating kick likely to hit the scoreboard each and every week. She will always attract a crowd too at the marking contest, so if the Bulldogs crumbers can get to work, they can have a bit of freedom knowing their opponents can occasionally try and assist a defender in stopping Rosenzweig. The likes of Alicia Butler and Latiah Huynh were really impressive last week, and have some eye-catching traits. Whilst scoring at times has been an issue for Central, their defence stacks up against some of the best, with Sarah Allan returning to the club for the second half of the season and providing that extra experience alongside Demi Sonneman and another returning player in Gemma Doughty who made the successful return from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury last week.

South Adelaide will be strong favourites for this one given the midfield strength, but with a couple of key players down in the back half, Central has a chance to take advantage of the reshuffling of magnets.

 

WEST ADELAIDE VS. STURT
Sunday, July 5, 11.50am
Hisense Stadium

Of all the clashes, this could be the most exciting. Both teams have an abundance of youth which they are backing in this week and will make for quite the show at Hisense Stadium. Naturally, the third placed West Adelaide will have the upper hand at home, sitting in a good position to pounce if South Adelaide slips up. The Bloods have a good percentage gap on fourth placed Norwood, and after getting the job done against Woodville-West Torrens eagles in a scrap last week, expect the game to open up more this week. Sturt dropped out of the top four and their percentage took a hit with that huge 77-point defeat to North Adelaide, so getting a win here would be important to try and get their form back.

Amelie Finnimore and Nicole Hooper will miss the Bloods clash through injury this week, while Tamika May and Taylor Hand are also listed on the outs. A debutant in Hannah Scholar from Morphettville Park will join four others on an extended bench. Olivia Smith, Abbey Hardwick, Alex Mason, Scarlett Griffiths and Georgie Gray are all in line to return to the team for the clash. Sturt on the other hand has made just the two changes with Ally Ladas out injured, joining Holly Temby as the two confirmed changes. In line to make their debuts for the Double Blues are Olivia McEvoy and Tiah Hough, the latter of whom is a member of the Crows’ Academy. Caroline Burgess and Aajiah Jericho are the other two named in an extended team.

Whilst Sturt might have been overwhelmed last week, there was always a bit to like about the way they move the ball, and they when using their short kicking and hitting up targets it worked, but North Adelaide knew to add pressure to the mix and it was hard to quell. Hannah Prenzler was a standout down back with Maya Rigter throwing herself everywhere through midfield trying everything to get her team over the. Rigter and her co-captain Georgia Bevan are guiding a young team, and Rigter herself is still only 19. Zoe Prowse had a quieter game last week but has the potential to really get going, whilst Alex Ballard had some purple patches in the game.

West Adelaide was able to do enough to shake off a determined Eagles outfit in Round 5, and their two half-backs in AFL Women’s Crows talent Madison Newman and young gun Keeley Kustermann might be the best one-two combination at that position when it comes to running and hitting targets. Having two terrific ball users coming out of defence is crucial to a team’s success and they certainly offer that. With Rachelle Martin and Abbie Ballard leading the charge in midfield, they can get it down to arguably the most damaging forward line as well. Melanie Elsegood as the deep forward alongside AFL Women’s talent in Chelsea Biddell and Stevie-Lee Thompson is a strong mix, whilst Zoe Venning provides that dash between the arcs.

West Adelaide are one of the dark horses this season and should get the job done here, but both teams will score more than they did last week in a free-flowing contest.

 

GLENELG vs. NORTH ADELAIDE
Sunday, July 5, 12pm
ACH Group Stadium

If AFL Women’s talent is what you after, then look no further than the final game of the round between the undefeated North Adelaide and the rising Glenelg. On face value the Tigers are seventh on the table and really need to start making a move to have a chance at finals. But with the return of a number of AFL Women’s players – who all had a big impact last week against South – they are ready to rake in the wins. Unfortunately for the Tigers, they have copped the two best sides in the first two weeks back, and this North Adelaide team is coming off a 77-point demolition job of Sturt.

Glenelg will be without Soriah Moon who is a big loss, joining Cass Hartley as the players out of the side from the loss to Sturt. Coming into the team are Molly Affolter, Sheridan Howell, Lauren Bungey and Rachel Aistrope with at least two to make it into the final term. Alex Fitridge is the only out for the Roosters this week, as North Adelaide welcomes back defender Lauren Gauci, as well as adding Kendall Howell, Charlea Taylor and Brianna Arthur to an extended bench.

North have managed to get stronger with the addition of Gauci who provides extra strength to the league’s best backline. Kristi Harvey and Amber Ward have been mainstays in the key posts this year, but bringing in West Coast’s Talia Radan adds another key talent in there, and Gauci will have the freedom to provide some extra run when needed. Through the midfield, Anne Hatchard would have broken all kinds of statistical records last week when she brought her own ball to the game against the Double Blues. She was simply unstoppable and carried on her best and fairest winning from from the Crows. Teaming up with Ashleigh Woodland and Leah Tynan in midfield, and throwing in the speed and class of Katelyn Pope and Hannah Ewings, and the Roosters outfit are premiership favourites for a reason. There are very few, if any weaknesses in the line-up, and it will take a special effort to beat them on any given day.

Glenelg do have some serious talent that can stretch the Roosters however, led by Ebony Marinoff, Eloise Jones and Caitlin Gould. Marinoff was enormous in the first half for the Bays last week, and Jones was just about their best with her strong hands and work in transition up forward. Caitlin Gould could have had a bigger day and might be ruing her missed chances on goal, something she will no doubt fix for this game. Deni Varnhagen provided great speed on the outside, whilst Grace Duffy and Sam Franson also had impressive moments in the loss. The Tigers top-end talent is class and quality, and whilst North Adelaide have the greater depth, the Bays have a lot of strong contributors who work as one unit and know what each other is capable of, and why they pushed the reigning back-to-back premiers for so long last week.

The Roosters are favourites because they have not lost and on paper are the best team in the competition, but they can also not underestimate what Glenelg is capable of on its day, especially with Marinoff and Jones among those running around.

SANFL Women’s Round 4 preview: Top of the table clash beckons

AFTER the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s players enjoyed a long weekend off, they return to action tonight and tomorrow night with a couple of double headers played at X Convenience Oval and Flinders University Stadium. The final game of the round is predicted to be the best of the lot with the top two sides, South Adelaide and North Adelaide doing battle, whilst West Adelaide looks to keep breathing space inside the top three when the Bloods take on fifth placed Norwood. In the games tonight, Woodville-West Torrens hopes to open its account against fourth placed Glenelg who found form last round, whilst one of Central District or Sturt will grab their second win of the season in the other game.

WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS vs. GLENELG
Friday, March 13, 6.30pm
X Convenience Oval

Woodville-West Torrens is still waiting for its maiden SANFL Women’s competition win after pushing reigning premiers, South Adelaide all the way in Round 1, almost having it against Norwood in Round 2, and then getting narrowly beaten by Sturt in Round 3. For Glenelg, its season did not look great early, going down to North Adelaide in the opening round by 24 points, then getting smashed by West Adelaide to the tune of 40 points in the second week. Last week the Tigers turned it around with a smashing of their own to gain back some vital percentage points thanks to a 50-point win over Central District. The win catapulted last year’s fourth placed team into that position and put the Tigers’ season back on track. Now they take on a side that has been so good for long stints of games, but just failed to close it out when it counts.

The Eagles are renowned as the competition’s premier tackling team. Whilst it does mean that often they are second to the ball – ranked seventh for disposals and fifth for disposal differential, they are miles ahead of any other team when it comes to defensive pressure. The Eagles have laid a whopping 237 tackles in just three games – 51 more than their nearest rival. They have a plus 69 in the statistic, and that is an area that Glenelg will have to be wary of, though the Tigers also rank strongly with a plus 26 (second) and 182 total for third overall.

Glenelg’s strength comes in its ruck craft with a competition high 90 and plus 44 in hitouts and hitouts differential respectively. The Eagles have a struggled a tad in that area, ranked sixth for differential, whilst both teams have similar clearance numbers. Often the Eagles defence has to stand up under immense pressure with a minus 30 in inside 50s, ranked seventh in the comp, though Glenelg is only marginally better ranked fifth with a plus seven. Despite losing two games, Glenelg’s rebounding numbers are the equal worst in the comp at 46, with a seventh rank of differential at minute 10. The Eagles are the top side in both areas, with 84 and plus 26 respectively.

Both sides have been forced to make a number of changes to the Round 3 line-ups, with Caitlin Gould the huge out from the Tigers as she was recalled for Adelaide AFL Women’s duty. Along with Chelsea Packer and Sam Franson who are both injured, the Tigers are understrength for the clash, and are missing a number of quality players from the 22. To try and fill the quality lost in the side are Molly Althouse, Molly Affolter and Tasja Batzavalis, with Althouse not playing since Round 1, and the other two recalled after missing Round 2. A player who has been in some ripping form this year is Tessa Kohn, who will look to control the midfield, averaging 12 disposals, 4.7 tackles, 4.3 clearances and 2.3 inside 50s so far this season on the inside. Alongside her is the tackling machine in Lucy Armitage who has laid a whopping 7.3 tackles to go with her 9.3 disposals (86 per cent efficiency). The Tigers coaching staff have also shuffled the magnets with midfielder-defender, Madisyn Freeman named in the forward pocket to try and potentially fill the void left by Franson.

The home team has also been forced to make a number of changes with Georgia Taylor missing through a knee injury and Mikayla Cavallaro suffering concussion, whilst three other changes have been made. Jaida Tabb – sister of Eagles and Adelaide AFL Women’s Jaimi is set to make her debut after just missing out last week, whilst Charlotte Dolan achieves the same milestone in the game. A crucial recall is Adelaide’s Rhiannon Metcalfe who will proved an important presence in the ruck against a Tigers outfit renowned for its stoppage work. Jaimi Tabb (12.3 disposals, 6.7 tackles, 6.7 tackles and 1.0 goals) has been thrown into the midfield after three goals playing out of full-forward last week, joined in there by fellow teenager, Teagan Usher (7.0 disposals, 4.3 tackles, 2.3 clearances). With Tesharna Maher (11.3 disposals, 4.7 rebounds) in defence and Kiana Lee (9.7 disposals, 3.7 marks and 1.3 goals) up in attack, the Eagles’ youth is what drives the team each week and sooner or later the scales will tip and they will close out a game.

Based on what we will witness, it will be a fierce tackling game with two sides who are not renowned for getting a heap of ball inside 50, but Glenelg will need to make the most of its opportunities if it is to capitalise on its ruck dominance. The Eagles’ defence and defensive pressure are rated the best in the league for a reason, and you cannot fault them in that regard. Woodville-West Torrens players just need to hold their nerves during crucial moments, because they could well have been 2-1 or even 3-0 to start the season, though you feel a win is not too far away.

CENTRAL DISTRICT vs. STURT
Friday, March 13, 8.15pm
X Convenience Oval

The second game of tonight’s double header pits home side, Central District up against Sturt in a battle of seventh against sixth respectively. The Bulldogs started the season with a groundbreaking four-point win over last year’s minor premiers Norwood for the first time. Since then though, they lost to North Adelaide by 54 points, and Glenelg by 50 in what has been a rough couple of weeks in Rounds 2 and 3. They have had a week off to reassess and this game could be a real chance for the Bulldogs to get back on the winners board with Sturt having a similar season, but in reverse. The Double Blues finally grinded out a win by eight points over a plucky Woodville-West Torrens outfit last week, which came after back-to-back losses of 21 (West Adelaide) and 34 points (South Adelaide), but more concerning was the fact the Double Blues had only kicked 3.6 in those games combined. They turned that around last week with 5.6 in the game, and will be hoping to take advantage in this contest. Central District has only scored 2.5 combined in the past two weeks themselves, so the Bulldogs might look to a similar inspiration to bounce back with some more scoring.

Central District’s defence is ranked second in the competition, with 75 total rebounds, and a differential of plus 23, just three behind the leaders in that stat, Woodville-West Torrens. Whilst it might seem obvious the bottom two sides have the highest differential (with sixth placed Sturt third but a bit behind with plus three), they have managed to rebound 76 per cent of the opposition’s inside 50s. The Bulldogs are not a high possession side though, ranked eighth in total disposals and differential, kicking and handballing differentials, clearances, and hitouts and inside 50s total and differential. But it is hard to read into that too early in the season, though they won in Round 1 with these stats in the red. The Bulldogs are a kick-first side with a 3.26 ratio between kicks to handballs (more than three kicks to every handball), whilst their opposition has run at a ratio of 2.1. Their defence is their strength, so that is where they can look to rebound from and counter against Sturt in this game.

The Double Blues have a few more areas where they lead the league, with marks differential (plus 67) and total hitouts (80), which shows that they like to get first hands on it and also play more of a simplified game by hitting targets more so than running and gunning it. Their 2.4 kick-to-handball ratio is higher than the league average, but despite their hitouts dominance, they have not been able to translate that into clearance numbers, ranked eighth in the league with a differential of minus 27. They also only have one more inside 50 than their opponent coming into this game, though with 28 more on differentials. Their matches so far have largely been played between the arcs compared to the Bulldogs, with 131 times going inside 50 at either end of the ground compared to Central District’s 197. They win a bit more of the ball, but again are ranked seventh for disposal differential, so these are two sides that are not huge possession sides, but try and make the most of their opportunities going forward.

With the return of the rebranded National Basketball League (NBL)1 Central, Sturt will be without ruck Stephanie Ratliff, whilst Jaimee Wittervan will play her other sport of touch football this weekend. Lane Trenorden is the other forced out for the Double Blues, missing due to illness, whilst six players have been named in an extended interchange situation. Olivia McEvoy, Kiera Mueller and Louise Firth could make their debuts in the match, while Hannah Dreckow and Cherie Bamford join Elsie Dawes as other ins for the side. The strength of the Double Blues was their hitouts, though it is hard to deny the impact of co-captains, Georgia Bevan and Maya Rigter this season. Bevan has averaged a team-high 19.3 disposals, 2.7 marks, 7.3 tackles, 2.7 clearances, 2.3 inside 50s and 2.3 rebounds, while Rigter has put up numbers of 14.7 disposals, 4.0 marks, 8.0 tackles and 2.3 clearances. Right alongside them in the best and fairest contention would have to be 17-year-old Hannah Prenzler who has been a rock in defence, averaging 12.3 disposals (at 81 per cent efficiency), 5.7 marks, 2.3 tackles and 2.3 rebounds from her three games this season. Fellow youngster, Zoe Prowse might have a bigger role in the ruck now Ratliff is out of the side, averaging 10.7 disposals, 2.7 marks and 10.3 hitouts per game thus far.

Central is lucky enough to not have to make any forced changes, instead adding four players to its side with an extended bench ahead of tonight’s big clash. Keely Cannizzaro returns after a couple of weeks out and slots straight into centre half-back, while Ella Mickan (wing), Tess Gerhardy (back pocket) and Hannah Pavlovich (interchange) are the others to come into the team. The focal point up forward is undoubtedly Katelyn Rosenzweig who after booting four goals a game in the win over Norwood, has only managed the two since. She has booted six of the Bulldogs’ seven goals in season 2020, so the home side must find more options to goal if they are to be a threat of kicking a winning score. With Sturt having some strong defenders, the likes of Shannon Murphy (full-forward) and Georgia Madigan (forward pocket) could be targets to add scoreboard pressure. Demi Sonneman (14.7 disposals, 5.0 rebounds) is enjoying a really strong season in the back 50, teaming up well with Kimberley Fry (10 disposals, 3.7 rebounds) and making it difficult for opposition teams to control the airways. Through the midfield, Shelby Smith (14.7 disposals, 43.7 marks, 3.7 clearances, 3.7 tackles, 2.0 inside 50s and 2.0 rebounds) is the one to watch out for as she has been finding her fair share of the ball for the Bulldogs on the inside.

The Bulldogs have put out a really stable side for the next round match, not panicking with changes and backing in their squad. The Double Blues have lost a number of players through various circumstances and that could assist the Bulldogs in bouncing back with a win. In saying that, last round Sturt looked very impressive in its victory over Woodville-West Torrens and if it can replicate its form, then the Double Blues deserve favouritism. With more avenues to goal, the Bulldogs will be a bigger threat and if they can execute that, then watch out.

WEST ADELAIDE vs. NORWOOD
Saturday, March 14, 5.30pm
Flinders University Stadium

Opening up a massive double header at Flinders University Stadium which features four of the top five teams is a clash between third and fifth on the SANFL Women’s ladder. West Adelaide is coming off its first loss of the season, going down to North Adelaide by 21 points last week after accounting for Glenelg (40 points) the week before, and Sturt (21) in Round 1. They head into this match hoping to bounce back, and remain a win clear of the Redlegs inside the top three. Norwood started its season off with a four-point win over Central District in Round 1, before bouncing back with a thrilling last-minute win over Woodville West Torrens by a point in Round 2, then suffering defeat again, this time by 30 points to South Adelaide.

Statistically speaking, West Adelaide is the number one clearance team in the competition. Racking up 77 clearances – nine more than the Bloods’ nearest rival – and 26 more than their opponents across the first three weeks, it is an area that they can really take advantage of here. Unfortunately the stoppage dominance has not always led to inside 50 numbers, ranked sixth overall in that area, and when it does go back the other way, the Bloods are equal lowest in terms of overall rebounds. In many other areas they are middle of the road and not too bad, though they are very much a handball-happy side with a 1.87 kick-to-handball ratio, and are ranked fourth overall for disposals.

One ahead of them in ball-winning numbers is the Redlegs who are ranked third in the competition for total disposals, though in their loss to South Adelaide had 63 less touches despite clocking up 201 disposals themselves. One of Norwood’s top strengths is its marking ability, having clunked the second most marks in the competition (141) and marking differential (plus 57). They also lead the league in clearance differential (plus 32) and pump the ball inside 50 more often than any other team (93) with a healthy plus 18 in that stat differential. Their areas of improvement are defensive ones, with Norwood’s tackling differential (minus 68) and rebounding differential (minus 26) the two key areas where they rank eighth in the competition for.

Looking to the teams and West Adelaide has made three changes, with Nicole Hooper missing the game due to injury, while Tara McDermott and Marie Martino are also listed as outs. Coming into the team is clever forward, Kasia Culhane to boost the attacking stocks, as well as Taylor Hand and Ashlea James. What makes the West Adelaide midfield so deep is the top-end talent of Abbie Ballard (19.7 disposals, 2.3 marks, 3.3 tackles, 4.7 clearance and 3.0 inside 50s) and Rachelle Martin (17.3 disposals, 6.3 tackles, 5.0 clearances and 2.3 inside 50s), while Zoe Greer (11.0 disposals, 6.3 tackles and 3.7 clearances) adds to that talent with all three making life difficult for opposition onballers. Up forward, Melanie Elsegood is a strong target coming out of full-forward with multiple goals in all three goals, while Zoe Venning is just 16, but has been good rotating up the ground for 18.3 disposals, 4.3 marks, 2.3 tackles, 2.7 clearances and 2.0 inside 50s. Throw in Keeley Kustermann (13.7 disposals, 2.0 marks, 2.0 tackles and 3.7 rebounds) off half-back alongside the reliable Helen Maidment and Lauren Rodato and West Adelaide’s defence can be as stringent as its forward line can be potent.

Norwood has been forced to make three changes to its Round 3 side, with Alison Ferrall missing the game due to a wedding, and Rhiannon Busch and Rosette Zeralla both out of the team as well. Kate Fenton is among three changes coming into the Redlegs’ side as they eye off a potential top four spot with a Glenelg loss. While they might be 1-2 from a win-loss perspective, Norwood has some serious top-end talent that has just taken a hit due to the quality of last year’s team which saw players drafted into the AFL Women’s competition. Leading the way for Norwood is Leah Cutting who has been sensational in the ruck and a key reason why the Redlegs are ranked second in the competition for hitout differential. The combination of Matilda Zander (17.7 disposals, 5.0 marks, 3.0 tackles and 3.0 inside 50s) – who has recently signed with Collingwood VFL Women’s side – and Bella Smith (8.3 disposals, 3.3 marks and 3.3 inside 50s) through the midfield has been a strong one in the absence of players such as Najwa Allen, Hannah Dunn and Ebony O’Dea who all left to chase their dreams at the elite level. Veteran, Jo Hill continues to be a source of scoring for the Redlegs, booting six goals from three games and will look for that to continue in this game, while versatile utility Mattea Breed (16.0 disposals, 2.0 marks, 2.7 tackles, 3.3 clearances, 4.0 inside 50s) has been able to play across all three lines.

The game itself is a hard one to predict, but given West Adelaide’s consistent form – only being overrun by a premiership contender in North Adelaide last week – and Norwood’s inconsistent form, the Bloods start as favourites in the game. Added to the fact the Redlegs have lost a few key players in the game, expect the Bloods to try and dominate the midfield and give their forwards first opportunity at scoring going inside 50.

SOUTH ADELAIDE vs. NORTH ADELAIDE
Saturday, March 14, 7.15pm
Flinders University Stadium

The top of the table clash is the most anticipated match of the SANFL Women’s season thus far, with the second placed South Adelaide hosting the top ranked North Adelaide. In what is also a replay of last year’s SANFL Women’s Grand Final, the Panthers and Roosters have overcome some serious outs from the off-season to still lead the pack in the 2020 competition. In Round 1, the Panthers survived a scare against Woodville-West Torrens to win by four points, then got their groove going after that with a 34-point triumph over Sturt and a five-goal victory over Norwood. The Roosters have had a flawless start to the season with a 24-point win over Glenelg in the opening week of the season, then dominated Central District by 54 and clocked up a 21-point win over West Adelaide in another top of the table clash just last week.

Statistically, both these teams are the clear standouts throughout the season, ranked in the top two in most areas. Starting with the Panthers, they are ranked first for disposal, kick and handball differential, and second for disposals, kicks, tackles and clearances. They do not have too many Achilles heels in the side, though despite having the second most tackles, are actually minus four in that differential, ranked sixth overall. It has helped them prepare for fierce defensive pressure from their opposition and being able to withstand it, something that will help the reigning premiers along the way. In terms of inside 50s they rank third, and also rank third for rebounds, with the Panthers more than capable to defend and attack between and inside the arcs. They are ranked fifth in hitout differential, but it has not stopped them being a premier clearance side.

North Adelaide has its fair share of elite qualities, proving that sheer weight of numbers can overwhelm opposition sides. They ranked first in disposals, kicks and marks in a simple, yet effective possession-style game. With a slight deficiency in tackling (134 total, plus five differential ranked eighth and fourth respectively), it is hard not to have one given their ridiculous amount of the ball they collect each week. They will need to improve their hitouts and clearance work, ranked in the bottom three sides for both, with their real strength coming in their inside 50s. The Roosters have pumped the ball inside 89 times (ranked second in the competition) and have a plus 26 in that statistic, eight more than their nearest rival, and nine more than the Panthers. The Roosters are ranked lower in their rebounds, with an equal fifth and sixth ranked respectively for total and differential in the stat. North Adelaide can take advantage with its keepings-off style and dominating play through a kick-mark-inside 50 gameplan, whilst the Panthers will look to handball their way down the field with speed, often straight out of the stoppages.

The home side has been forced to make at least four chances to its winning combination which could play a role in the game. Montana McKinnon got her chance for the Crows last week during the bye and has retained her spot after a strong debut which is great news, but not so much for the Panthers who will miss her presence around the ground. Also out due to work and unavailability are Lucy Northcott and Sophie Flanagan-Sjoberg, while Kelli Nijhuis suffered a knee injury and will miss. A procession of players return to the line-up with seven players named on an extended bench. Those named straight into the side are 17-year-old Brooklyn Kraft who replaces McKinnon in the ruck for Kraft’s first game of 2020 after four last year, and 16-year-old Lauren Clifton who slots into centre half-back after missing the last two games. Much of the talk around South Adelaide has been its impressive youngsters with Teah Charlton averaging a massive 21.3 disposals, 5.3 tackles, 3.7 clearances and 4.3 inside 50s per game, having really picked up in the past two weeks in particular. Indy Tahau is another who has not been overawed averaging 14.7 disposals, 2.7 marks, 2.3 tackles, 4.0 clearances and 2.3 inside 50s – ranked equal fourth in contested marks having taken five already this year. Somehow flying under the radar is South Adelaide’s midfield of Czenya Cavouras (18.3 disposals, 6.7 tackles and 4.3 clearances), Tahlia Meyer (16.7 disposals, 2.0 marks, 2.7 tackles, 2.7 inside 50s) and Samantha Pratt (11 disposals, 2.7 marks, 5.3 tackles and 3.0 rebounds) – the latter of whom has been named onball after playing a key role in defence last week.

North’s team selection by comparison is relatively stable with just one player added to the line-up on an extended bench with none yet to come out of the side. Charlea Taylor could potentially make her debut for the red and whites in what is the Roosters’ biggest game of the season. It is hard to fault too much with North Adelaide’s performance this year and many of these players will have fire in the belly after losing to the Panthers in last year’s decider. A win here might not make up for the grand final loss, but it will give them confidence going forward they can stand up in big games against quality opposition. The North Adelaide forward line is an embarrassment of riches, with last year’s leading goalkicker Kelly Barltrop yet to dominate but expected to let loose sometime soon, while the likes of Cristie Castle (18.3 disposals, 5.3 marks and 2.0 inside 50s), Hannah Ewings (12.7 disposals, 3.7 marks, 4.0 tackles and 4.0 inside 50s) and Katelyn Pope (14.0 disposals, 5.5 inside 50s, 2.5 tackles) all troubling opposition defenders, with the latter two roaming up the ground and pumping the ball inside 50 on multiple occasions. The star of the club, if not competition this year so far is Ashleigh Woodland who has been dominating on all fronts on her way to an average of 16.7 disposals, 4.7 marks, 2.7 tackles. 2.3 inside 50s and since going forward, has booted seven goals from an average of 20.5 disposals. Also through the midfield is Leah Tynan (14.3 disposals at 91 per cent efficiency, 3.7 tackles, 3.0 clearances and 2.3 inside 50s) and Lauren Daniel (18.0 disposals, 3.7 marks, 3.7 tackles, 3.3 clearances and 2.0 inside 50s), whilst Amber Ward, Kristi Harvey and Lauren Gauci all sure up the defence to give the Roosters a consistent effort across the ground and ensure the opposition team struggles to kick high scores.

The big difference between the teams is the styles that they adopt and while they both are miles ahead of the rest of the competition in terms of disposals, the Panthers look for the quick handball at a competition-low kick-to-handball ratio of 1.3, compared to North Adelaide’s 1.7, which is still below the competition average, but is considerably higher than their opponents. Given North’s strength going inside, if the Roosters can break even in the clearances, then it gives them a huge advantage over their Southern rivals. If the Panthers get on top in the middle, and can find space around the ground, then it gives their chances a huge boost of coming out on top. An absolute ripping contest awaits.

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.

SANFL Women’s 2020 team preview: Woodville-West Torrens

IN our final South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s team preview, we take a look at Woodville-West Torrens Eagles, a side that finished its inaugural season without a win, but showed great spirit throughout and seemed to gel more as the season went on.

 

2019 BY THE NUMBERS:

Position: 8th
Wins: 0
Losses: 10
For: 227
Against: 542
Percentage: 41.9%

 

2020 CHANGES

(as per Zak Milbank’s article on the SANFL site)

IN: Ali Evans (West Adelaide), Rebecca Catterall (Central District), Nicole Collie (North Adelaide).
OUT: Jaimi Tabb (Adelaide AFLW), Tash Farrier (Ice Hockey), Hannah Scholar (West Adelaide), Taylor Hand (West Adelaide), Jo Baltias (Sturt), Rachel Dunstan (Sturt), Aajiah Jericho (Sturt).

 

FIVE PLAYERS TO WATCH

Kiana Lee

Missed out on being drafted last year, but the 18-year-old showed in patches that she has what it takes to keep pushing and deserved a place in the Central Allies side at the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships. Lee returns to the Eagles line-up having booted nine goals from 10 games in a team that struggled to put scores on the board last year. She will again be a key target inside the arc so expect her to cause some headaches with an extra year of experience under her belt.

Stephanie Walker

A member of the leadership group having stepped back from the inaugural captaincy last year, Walker was one of the Eagles’ most consistent players last season. She played 10 games and averaged 15.3 disposals and 2.8 rebounds, working hard to push back and help her defenders, all while running at 75 per cent disposal efficiency. She will again be one the team turns to this season, though the former AFL Women’s player has been touted for a role change in 2020, to provide more support in attack

Jaimi Tabb

Despite the fact Tabb will likely play plenty of games for the Crows given her form last year – getting better as the season went on – if she does manage to come back and play it is impossible not to have her on this list. She went from strength to strength in 2019, winning the ball on a string and then continuing that form into the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships. Loves the contested side of football but can also outrun her opponents on the outside, always wearing them down.

Caitlin Sampson

A key player through the ruck, Sampson provided first hands to her teammates in the role, playing the first seven games of the season and showing some promising signs in her first year in the competition. She averaged six touches and 14 hitouts per game, ranking fifth overall in the stat. Still raw and developing, Samson will have benefited from 2019, and with some fresh faces around, she could be important against a host of talented talls in the competition this year.

Jovanka Zecevic

The 21-year-old was a permanent fixture out of defence, averaging 11.1 disposals and 2.7 rebounds per game. She played nine of a possible 10 games, and had a purple patch mid-season where she racked up 17, 16 and 18 disposals consecutively – against the top three teams. In the same period, she averaged almost five rebounds per game, standing up under severe heat, and with Walker playing more of a forward role, she will be the one to turn to when it comes to settling down the back six.

FIXTURE

1 vs. South Adelaide
2 vs. Norwood
3 vs. Sturt
4 vs. Glenelg
5 vs. West Adelaide
6 vs. Norwood
7 vs. Central District
8 vs. North Adelaide
9 vs. Glenelg
10 vs. Sturt

Woodville-West Torrens has a mixed bag when it comes to double-up games, facing last year’s minor premiers Norwood, finalists Glenelg and bottom three side Sturt, twice. It is a tough start to the season with the reigning premiers and Redlegs up in the first fortnight, but the goal for the Eagles this season will be to breakthrough for that first win and then build from there.

SANFL Women’s 2020 team preview: West Adelaide

IN the next of our South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s team preview, we take a look at West Adelaide, a side that came agonisingly close to a finals appearance, but was pipped at the post by an Ebony Marinoff-inspired Glenelg.

2019 BY THE NUMBERS:

Position: 5th
Wins: 6
Losses: 4
For: 298
Against: 347
Percentage: 85.9%

 

2020 CHANGES

(as per Zak Milbank’s article on the SANFL site)

IN: Rachael Killian (returned/NT Thunder), Zoe Greer (Norwood), Taylor Hand (Woodville-West Torrens), Hannah Scholar (Woodville-West Torrens), Kate Walsh (SMOSH West Lakes).
OUT: Madison Newman (Adelaide AFLW), Chelsea Biddell (Adelaide AFLW), Tayla Gordon (North Adelaide), Ali Evans (Woodville-West Torrens), Leah Swain (maternity leave/Melbourne).

 

FIVE PLAYERS TO WATCH

Madison Newman / Chelsea Biddell

Similar to our South Adelaide preview, we have included both Newman and Biddell as ones to watch purely because though they departed the club for AFL Women’s, they did land at Adelaide which gives them a chance to still run out with the Bloods in the upcoming season. Newman finished top five in disposals last year and was a revelation in the back half, while Biddell was the club’s leading goalkicker. While it is hoped they can both make an impact at AFL Women’s level – especially given the Crows’ recent run with injuries – the club would love to have them back, even if it is only a few games towards the back-end of the season.

Abbie Ballard

The teenager is entering her draft year and the now top-ager will look to take over from Newman as the key talent through the midfield group with the more experienced, Rachelle Martin. Ballard showed a fierce tenacity to attack the contest and despite her size – 159cm – she won double-figure disposals on all bar one occasion to average 16.1 per game to go with her 4.1 clearances, 5.4 tackles and 2.1 inside 50s. Her final game of the season in the loss to South Adelaide saw Ballard rack up 24 touches, three marks, five tackles, six clearances and five rebounds in a superb effort leaving fans excited for what could come in 2020.

Rachael Killian

One of the bigger inclusions across the SANFL Women’s competition for 2020, the 174cm midfielder is still only 25-years-old but has premiership experience at the highest level, playing in the inaugural AFL Women’s premiership side with Adelaide. Last season she played three games with NT Thunder, where she averaged more than 10 touches per game. She should slot straight into the midfield and be that extra hand around the stoppages, not afraid to lay a tackle and then go forward and find the goals. A handy player to have running around for the Bloods.

Rachelle Martin

After an unbelievable 2018 SANFL Women’s season where she was one of the most dominant ball winners in the competition, Martin was restricted to just four games due to injury in 2020. She made them count, averaging 19.8 disposals, 6.8 tackles, three clearances, three marks and 2.3 inside 50s. She also managed to boot a goal in two of her games, and did play the last three of the season, Unfortunately it took her a few weeks to get back to her best and by then the season was over. Could stake a claim as one of the best ball-winning state players and is almost a new inclusion into last year’s side. If she stays fit will be an unbelievable talent in that on-ball brigade.

Melanie Elsegood

Finished second overall in the club goalkicking last season, slotting 10 goals in nine games for the Westies. With Biddell potentially no longer inside 50, Elsegood has free reign to be the dominant target for her club, and she has to stand up and deliver this year. Not a huge ball winner, Elsegood is someone reliable to hit the scoreboard, doing so in seven of her nine games, including a bag of three to open the season, and two goals to finish it. One who could benefit from the permanent inclusions of Martin and Killian.

FIXTURE

1 vs. Sturt
2 vs. Glenelg
3 vs. North Adelaide
4 vs. Norwood
5 vs. WWT Eagles
6 vs. Sturt
7 vs. South Adelaide
8 vs. Central District
9 vs. Norwood
10 vs. South Adelaide

West Adelaide could be one of the more unknown quantities in the competition. The Bloods came close to finals last year, and while they have lost a number of key players, have brought in quite a few talents at the same time. If they play to their potential, the Westies could sneak into the top four and play finals. They face a tough draw however, with double-ups against reigning premiers South Adelaide – both in the last four weeks – and Norwood, as well as Sturt. Realistically need to win quite a few early to make finals a possibility, but have faith because in patches they looked impressive last season.

Weekend preview: SANFL Women’s – Round 5

FOUR rounds down and the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s competition ladder is starting to take shape. Norwood remains the only undefeated team and takes on West Adelaide in what should be a terrific clash, while Central District and North Adelaide looms as another tight encounter.

STURT vs. GLENELG
Saturday, March 23, 12pm
Coopers Stadium

In the first game of a triple header at Coopers Stadium, the winless Sturt takes on Glenelg, a side seething from its first loss of the season last week. The Tigers will be keen to bounce back from the defeat at the hands of West Adelaide and regain ascendancy in the mid-table logjam. The Tigers have brought in four players to the side with ruck, Lauren Bungey and key defender, Olivia Walker-Obushak among those returning to the fold. The Double Blues have been forced to make some changes with Izzy Kuiper out due to injury, Jessie Keech out to play softball and Alexandra Ballard also omitted from the side. Into the team comes full-forward, Caroline Burgess in a bid to try and create more scoring power, and defender Brooke-Lee Chaplin. Glenelg will be the favourites in this game to bounce back from a rare los and hand Sturt its fifth consecutive defeat, however the Double Blues have been competitive across the board this season and would be edging towards a victory sooner rather than later.

NORWOOD vs. WEST ADELAIDE
Saturday, March 23, 1.45pm
Coopers Stadium

In the Game of the Week, top-of-the-table Norwood takes on fourth placed West Adelaide in a vital game for shaping the top four early in the season. The Bloods are one of three teams with a 3-1 win-loss record and victory would be crucial in getting an upperhand on their rivals. The undefeated Redlegs have made three confirmed changes, with Elisha Gallagher and Rhiannon Busch key outs as they have army duties, while Zoe Greer will miss through injury. Into the side comes forward, Tara Robertson, GWS GIANTS defender, Ebony O’Dea and Crows’ onballer Sally Riley. For the Bloods, They have brought in four players to an extended team, including full-back Jacalyn Pickering and defender Emma Smith. Norwood deservedly head in as favourites and are expected to continue their undefeated run, but the Bloods knocked off Glenelg last week in a low-scoring contest, so could have the defensive ability to restrict the Redlegs. Riley, Monique Hollick and Najwa Allen is a formidable midfield, while O’Dea and Sophie Armitstead provide good rebound out of attack. For the Westies, Abbie Ballard has been a shining light in the midfield, while Maddie Newman and Chelsea Biddell have been others to watch this season.

CENTRAL DISTRICT vs. NORTH ADELAIDE
Saturday, March 23, 3.30pm
Coopers Stadium

In the final game of the double header at Coopers Stadium, the in-form Central District faces North Adelaide. The Bulldogs have won back-to-back games against the Eagles and Double Blues and will look to make it three on the trot against North Adelaide. The Roosters have had a tough draw to start the season and are unlucky to have just one win from four games. Victory would see North Adelaide have a chance of overtaking the Bulldogs, while also keeping the bottom two at arms-length. With more of a favourable draw coming up in the future, the Roosters could get on a roll. For the Round 5 match, just the combined two changes have been made with Alex Fittridge and Elysha Willis coming into the Roosters’ line-up, while four players have been added to an extended bench for Central District. This could be the game of the round if both teams play at their best, with firepower and consistent players across the field. Katelyn Rosenzweig has been a lively point at full-forward this season, while Jessica Sedunary has serious abiloty. Abbey Scheer and Demi Sonneman have been consistent so far this season, while Jayme-Lee Sonneman has stood tall in the ruck. For North Adelaide, Amber Ward has been a rebounding machine in defence, Kelly Barltrop has been a target up forward, while Leah Tynan, Nadia Von Bertouch and Rheanne Lugg have made a formidable midfield trio. North Adelaide could be considered favourites given their experience, but the Bulldogs have the confidence after stringing two wins together and the scoring power to make it three.

SOUTH ADELAIDE vs. WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS
Saturday, March 23, 4.15pm
Flinders University Stadium

The final game of the round has reigning premiers South Adelaide coming up against a Woodville-West Torrens side that has been forced into making changes. The Panthers head into the game with a loss to Norwood the only blemish this season, having not put a foot wrong since then. The Eagles are still searching for their first win this season and team selection has not helped them. Sarah Perkins and key midfielder, Jaimi Tabb are unavailable, while Chloe Forby was suspended and Natalie Subelli forced out due to concussion. Add in the omissions of Taylor Hand and Amie Blanden and the Eagles head into the match with at least six different players to last round. Cassandra Glover will look to replace Perkins up forward, Georgia Taylor returns to the side to help out the defence as will Colbie Frankland. South Adelaide also lose a crucial player with Nikki Gore out due to AFL Women’s duties with Adelaide’s preliminary final against Geelong, while Alana Browne will miss due to a hamstring. The Panthers have brought four players into the mix, with Tonia Fielke slotting on a wing to replace Gore. The Panthers midfield might be missing Gore, but with Hannah Munyard, Czenya Cavouras, Elyse Haussen and Nicole Campbell in the team, it will make life difficult for the Eagles. Rachel Dunstan and Natasha Farrier are potential match-winners, while Kiana Lee will shoulder the load up forward and has plenty of talent. Stephanie Walker‘s work in defence is also important in this game as they look to cause an upset. Woodville-West Torrens will need to bring the heat for four quarters as the Panthers are an impressive outfit, but anything can happen on the right day.

Weekend preview: SANFL Women’s – Round 2

THE second round of the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s takes place tonight with a grand final replay highlighting an exciting round of action.

NORTH ADELAIDE vs. STURT
Friday, February 22, 6.30pm
Coopers Stadium

The opening game of the round sees two losing sides from Round 1 face off to try and get their first win on the board. Both sides have made minimal changes, with Rooster, Gabrielle Gormlie coming in for her first game, replacing Sharni Tansell. For Sturt, Nicole Baker is a welcome inclusion back into the Double Blues’ side, as is Jessie Keech, while Casey Fraser is out with a broken hand, joining Della Griffith on the sidelines. Last week, Roosters captain Nadia Von Bertouch was a leader on-field with 15 disposals, four marks and eight tackles, while defender Amber Ward was efficient with 17 disposals and nine rebounds. Both sides will be keen to put more scores on the board with North booting 1.5 and the Double Blues 2.2. Izzy Kuiper was the highest disposal winner for Sturt with 15 touches and four tackles, while Alexandra Ballard, Georgia Bevan and Maya Rigter all recorded 12 disposals.

WEST ADELAIDE vs. WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS
Friday, February 22, 7.30pm
City Mazda Stadium

West Adelaide hosts Woodville-West Torrens in a bid to make it two wins in a row for the Bloods, while the Eagles are hoping to snare an inaugural win. West Adelaide have just the one confirmed out – Lauren Rodata (concussion) – while bringing in three players with Jacalyn Pickering, Alice Gee and Mary Smith all named. The Eagles have rolled the dice with six players coming into the side and five outs. Madeline Dufek is the sole forced change with a knee injury, while Shae Pacifico-Hart, Taylor Hand and Courtney Jonson are also out of the side. Among the ins are Adelaide AFL Women’s forward, Sarah Perkins and South Australian Under-18 vice-captain, Rachel Dunstan. Madison Newman (26 disposals, four marks, six inside 50s and six rebounds) had a day out for the Bloods in Round 1, while Rachelle Martin laid a massive nine tackles to go with her 23 touches, four rebounds and a goal. Leah Swain was dominant in the ruck with 24 hitouts, as was Caitlin Sampson who recorded 19 for the Eagles. Jaimi Tabb and Georgia Taylor were equally as crucial for Woodville-West Torrens, notching up 17 disposals each, with Tabb going inside 50 five times, and Taylor rebounding the ball nine times. Kiana Lee was the sole beneficiary up forward with the Eagles’ two goals.

CENTRAL DISTRICT vs. GLENELG
Friday, February 22, 7.30pm
X Convenience Oval

Last year’s wooden spooners got their season off to the best possible start last week with a 35-point win over Woodville-West Torrens, while Central District fell to West Adelaide by 20 points. Lucy Bellinger racked up 23 disposals, 10 marks (two contested), five tackles, four inside 50s and two goals in a best on ground performance against the Bulldogs, while Ellen Fauser and Samantha Franson both picked up 15 disposals and kicked a goal. Central District have named two ins to their side with Kimberly Fry named on the half-back flanks and Shalee O’Brien brought onto an extended bench. Jayme-Lee Sonneman recorded 16 disposals, three marks, three tackles, three inside 50s and three rebounds, while Danielle Stewart (15 disposals, two marks and eight tackles) and Katelyn Rosenzweig (12 disposals, two contested marks ad three tackles) were also crucial in the loss. This week Rosenzweig was named at full-back with the Crows AFL Women’s forward looking likely to play in a new role tonight.

NORWOOD vs. SOUTH ADELAIDE
Friday, February 22, 8.15pm
Coopers Stadium

Two impressive winners from Round 1 were last year’s grand finalists and they face off in Round 2 in what should be considered the match of the round. The Redlegs have made just two changes to the side that triumphed in Round 1 and will be keen to back it up against the high-scoring Panthers outfit. Adelaide AFL Women’s young gun Nicky Gore was the big ball winner last week, racking up 19 disposals, five marks (two contested) and laying 10 tackles but will not take the field in this game. She was the sole out for the Panthers with Emily Woods, Natalie Gibbs and debutant, Emily Brockhurst named in the extended side. Hannah Munyard and Nicole Campbell also shared in 19 disposals, with the former booting a goal. Teah Charlton was lively up forward for the Panthers, creating havoc on her way to three goals. For Norwood, Hannah Dunn had a league-high 29 disposals in Round 1, while also recording four marks and five inside 50s. Najwah Allen booted the Redlegs’ two goals, while Monique Hollick continued where she left off last season with 12 touches and seven inside 50s.