Tag: Tegan Cunningham

Demons book prelim spot with win over Dockers at windswept Casey Fields

MELBOURNE has earned a chance at toppling two-time AFL Women’s premiers Adelaide in the preliminary final next weekend after defeating Fremantle by 17 points at a windswept Casey Fields yesterday. The Demons kept last year’s minor premiers goalless in the first half, then held on the second half despite some inaccuracy, to win, 5.10 (40) to 3.5 (23). Despite a phenomenal effort from Kiara Bowers with a Bowers-like tackle count of 17, the Demons put together a strong team effort across four quarters to advance through to the penultimate week of the 2021 AFL Women’s season.

After a couple of behinds early in the match, the Demons’ first selection in last year’s draft Alyssa Bannan got them on the board midway through the term, and whilst the Dockers had a couple of chances late in the quarter, could not capitalise and trailed by a straight kick at the first break. Shelley Scott was quick to pile on another major for the Demons, needing just 36 seconds from the restart to slot through the home team’s second goal, and the lead was out to 12. Scott doubled up five minutes later with her second and the Demons’ third, and when Eden Zanker missed a chance, the lead was out to a game-high 19 points at the half. Fremantle was unable to add to its quarter time score of two behinds, and the danger signs were there.

Fremantle had the first chance of the second half through Gemma Houghton, but she scored her second behind of the contest two minutes into the quarter, before Ashley Sharp broke the Dockers’ drought with a crucial major in the fourth minute of the premiership quarter. That cut the deficit to 12, and it did get as low as a 11 points midway through the quarter, before Brenna Tarrant – who had kicked five majors in her VFL Women’s debut earlier in the year – snagged a goal and the Demons had one foot in the preliminary final. Sabreena Duffy had other ideas though, and just as soon as the Demons were looking comfortable, she answered with a goal of her own, and the lead was back to less than two kicks. In the dying moments of the third term, Houghton finally found her range with a great goal and the deficit was just four points heading into the final break.

The first goal of the last term was crucial, but for some reason no matter how many chances they had, the Demons could not split the big sticks. Seven consecutive behinds – including one rushed – opened the term, but the ball was effectively locked inside the Demons 50, when the Dockers needed it up the other end for a chance to win the game. Instead, all of those behinds had pushed the lead from four points to 11 with four minutes on the clock. Eventually it would be the crafty Maddi Gay who put the icing on the cake with a terrific goal in the 15th minute to seal the game for the home team and guarantee them another week in the competition. Unfortunately for the Dockers, it meant the end of the road after their premiership aspirations were cut short last year due to the league cancellation, and now they will head back to go again in 2022. For the Demons, they will take on a red-hot Adelaide in South Australia next week, with the winner to book a place in the 2021 AFL Women’s Grand Final.

Gay was sensational throughout the match, fitting that she kicked the winning goal to go with 19 touches, three marks and nine tackles in the match, while Karen Paxman (20 disposals, five tackles, two inside 50s and two rebound 50s), Lily Mithen (17 disposals, two marks, three inside 50s and two tackles) and Scott (13 disposals, two tackles and two goals) were also prolific. Jacqueline Parry (12 disposals, four marks and four tackles), Zanker (10 disposals, three marks and four tackles) and Lauren Pearce (11 disposals, two tackles, 15 hitouts and three inside 50s) were also strong, as Casey Sherriff, Sarah Lampard, Tegan Cunningham, Kate Hore and Tyla Hanks all hit double-figure disposals.

For the Dockers, Bowers continued her remarkable season with 20 disposals and 17 tackles, six more than her nearest teammates in Steph Cain (14 disposals, five marks and three tackles) and Matilda Sergeant (14 disposals, two tackles). Houghton was forever busy up forward with 1.2 from nine disposals, two marks ad thee tackles, while Philippa Seth had 13 disposals, two marks and six rebound 50s. Mim Strom (12 disposals, two marks, 12 hitouts and six tackles), Ange Stannett (12 disposals, seven tackles and two inside 50s), Hayley Miller (11 disposals, six tackles and two rebound 50s) and Laura Pugh (10 disposals, four tackles and four rebound 50s) were others who not only hit double-figure disposals, but laid plenty of tackles as well.

MELBOURNE 1.2 | 3.3 | 4.3 | 5.10 (40)
FREMANTLE 0.2 | 0.2 | 3.5 | 3.5 (23)

GOALS:

Melbourne: S. Scott 2, A. Bannan, B. Tarrant, M. Gay.
Fremantle: A. Sharp, S. Duffy. G. Houghton.

DC BEST:

Melbourne: M. Gay, K. Paxman, L. Mithen, S. Scott, T. Cunningham
Fremantle: K. Bowers, M. Sergeant, M. Strom, H. Miller, S. Cain

Picture credit: Graham Denholm/Getty Images via AFL Photos

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

2021 AFL Women’s: Round 4 preview – Victorian crowds return for blockbuster fixtures

RETURNING crowds are set to light up some blockbuster fixtures in Round 4 of the 2021 AFL Women’s season, with four top-six foes locking horns while inaugural sides Melbourne and Western Bulldogs play off for the Hampson-Hardeman Cup. The ladder is beginning to take shape with four teams remaining undefeated and another four still out to claim their first points, but things can change very quickly in the middle order – starting this weekend.

Note: All start times are local.

ST KILDA (9th, 1-2) vs. GEELONG (14th, 0-3)
Friday February 19, 7:10pm
RSEA Park

Geelong will be out to break its duck in season 2021, but faces a tricky task in doing so as an away trip to face St Kilda awaits on Friday night. The Saints got on the board at the first time of asking this year but have fallen short of strong opposition since. Still, a third outing at their home of RSEA Park in four rounds should serve them well against their winless visitors from up the highway.

Both sides are set to blood debutants, with another of Geelong’s 2020 draftees in Laura Gardiner named on the bench for her maiden senior appearance, replacing Rebecca Goring (managed). St Kilda injury replacement Rebecca Ott is the game’s other debutant, brought in as part of four total changes for the Saints. While they will miss the likes of Molly McDonald (quad) and Nadia von Bertouch (foot), defender Bianca Jakobsson is among the relieving inclusions.

The Cats rank last for points scored and while the Saints have not been all that flash in converting up forward either, they should have enough firepower to boot a winning score. Geelong’s defence is known to be reasonably reliable though, so capitalising on the midfield battle will be key to either team getting on top.

Tip: St Kilda by 10

CARLTON (8th, 1-2) vs. RICHMOND (11th, 0-3)
Saturday February 20, 3:10pm
Princes Park

Traditional rivals Carlton and Richmond lock horns at Princes Park on Saturday, with the hosts eager to shake off a rough start and begin their push towards finals. A premiership hopeful coming into the season, Carlton dropped its first two games but got back on track last week and will fancy its chances against the winless Tigers. Richmond has shown some added bite in 2021 though, shoring up in defence and streaming forward more dangerously.

The Tigers have conceded no more than seven goals against some stiff opposition across the first three rounds, but have a lingering sense of rawness when it comes to their efficiency in attack. A total score of seven goals and 17 behinds does not make for good reading, and such impotence will likely prove costly against the more polished Blues, who are also quite bullish in defence.

Carlton’s strong midfield is set to play a factor too, led by reigning league best and fairest, Madison Prespakis. She may well find herself matched up by former-Blue Sarah Hosking at the centre bounces, with star Richmond ball winner Monique Conti arguably her side’s biggest threat in that department. The Blues’ dynamism and depth across the ground will also prove telling, especially if Richmond put together a good patch.

Tip: Carlton by 28

FREMANTLE (2nd, 3-0) vs. GOLD COAST (13th, 0-3)
Saturday February 20, 2:10pm
Fremantle Oval

Fremantle will fancy its chances of extending its record winning run to 11 matches on Saturday afternoon, when the Gold Coast Suns come to town looking for their first points this season. The Dockers have been in irresistible form, picking up from where they left off in 2020 with three-straight wins – including a crucial one against Adelaide last week in what was their first true test for 2021.

After a promising start against Melbourne, Gold Coast has registered a combined 10 points in its last two outings; first suffering a Q-Clash drubbing and then being edged by GWS in torrential conditions. Needless to say, scoring is a sore point for the Suns, but they have decent stock in a forwardline led by Sarah Perkins, should the ball get there. That is not to mention All Australian Kalinda Howarth, who is yet to register a goal this season.

They will need all the firepower they can get to match that of Fremantle, who have an array of scoring options. Spearhead Gemma Houghton was held relatively well last week but still managed to live up to her two-goal average, while the likes of Sabreena Duffy and Kara Antonio have also proven handy avenues forward. Gold Coast will have its hands full in midfield as well, though the reliable partnership of Jamie Stanton and Alison Drennan should provide some resistance to the Kiara Bowers juggernaut.

Tip: Fremantle by 45

NORTH MELBOURNE (5th, 2-1) vs. COLLINGWOOD (3rd, 3-0)
Saturday February 20, 7:10pm
Marvel Stadium

Marvel Stadium hosts one of the games of the round as Victorian powerhouses North Melbourne and Collingwood do battle on Saturday night. Returning fans should be treated to a mouthwatering spectacle, with the elements set to play no factor in hindering North Melbourne’s slick ball movement by foot, or Collingwood’s flowing run-and-gun style under the Marvel Stadium roof.

The Magpies should come in with a great deal of confidence having passed every test put in front of them thus far, but this will easily be their biggest challenge yet. While they dropped points last week, the Kangaroos have the advantage of competing in one of the competition’s most high-level encounters, ever, putting them in good stead for this potential finals sighter.

Collingwood midfield brigade is one of the few which could well match it with North Melbourne at the centre bounces, with ball magnets Jaimee Lambert, Brittany Bonnici, and the dynamic Bri Davey all averaging over 19 disposals. North Melbourne’s depth runs a touch deeper though, with Emma Kearney, Ashleigh Riddell, and Jenna Bruton among five Roos to average over 16 touches. The other two, Jasmine Garner and Ellie Gavalas, have also booted five and four goals respectively.

Tip: North Melbourne by 5

BRISBANE (1st, 3-0) vs. ADELAIDE (6th, 2-1)
Sunday February 21, 12:10pm
Hickey Park

League frontrunner, Brisbane hosts Adelaide on Sunday afternoon in another game of the round contender, making for Brisbane’s first top six assignment this year. The Lions have been flawless thus far, albeit against three of the bottom four teams, with the league’s most potent attack and stingiest defence. Adelaide went down to Fremantle last week, but has shown its quality as a bonafide premiership threat. This, another clash of contenders, will prove telling.

The Lions’ key forward partnership of Dakota Davidson and Jesse Wardlaw has produced a combined 12 goals this season, as teams have struggled to combat their one-two punch. Add to that the speed of Greta Bodey (five goals) and Courtney Hodder at ground level, and Brisbane’s attack has plenty of bases which need covering.

Adelaide will always back its midfield, consisting of Ebony Marinoff, Anne Hatchard, and Erin Phillips to set it on the right foot, while a defence set to be bolstered by skipper Chelsea Randall should combat Brisbane’s firepower well. Having been thrown deep forward with good success last week, Phillips looms as a handy wildcard for the Crows who were incredibly wasteful inside attacking 50 last week. They will need to be on song to kick a winning score in this one.

Tip: Brisbane by 3

WESTERN BULLDOGS (7th, 2-1) vs. MELBOURNE (4th, 3-0)
Sunday February 21, 3:10pm
Whitten Oval

Pioneer clubs Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs will play off for the Hampson-Hardeman Cup at Whitten Oval on Sunday afternoon, with just one game separating them so far this season. Nathan Burke‘s young pups have been ultra impressive in registering their 2-1 record, but the hardness and class of Melbourne’s undefeated side should prove a steep mountain to climb.

The Dees’ new-found scoring power and free-flowing style has been built on the back of some continued solidity in midfield, with stalwart Karen Paxman reliable as ever in 2021 alongside Lily Mithen and Tyla Hanks – all of whom average over 20 disposals per game. Up forward, a tall attack led by Tegan Cunningham has been difficult to counter in the air, while Kate Hore continues to damage at ground level.

Bulldogs skipper Ellie Blackburn has been inspirational as ever this season, dragging her side over the line on two occasions and leading the Dogs for disposals, clearances, inside 50s, and score involvements. She is also top of the tree alongside Izzy Huntington for goals (both four), with the latter a contested marking phenomenon. Plenty of young guns, including Jessica Fitzgerald will have to step up for the Dogs here in what looms as an extremely daunting task.

Tip: Melbourne by 24

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY (10th, 1-2) vs. WEST COAST (12th, 0-3)
Sunday February 21, 5:10pm
Blacktown International Sportspark

Round 4’s final game sees Greater Western Sydney (GWS) hosting once again against the winless West Coast Eagles, who have proven quite plucky in patches this season. The Giants broke through last week with a 10-point win over Gold Coast, another winless side, to get some points on the board, but West Coast has thrice fallen short of the mark against quality opposition.

This presents as the Eagles’ best chance to get on the board so far in 2021, with a solid half of smothering tackling pressure against Brisbane fresh in their memory. The problems for West Coast have come via a lack of efficiency and class inside forward 50, while the Eagles’ defence has also conceded the most points of any side this season.

Young guns Bella Lewis and Mikayla Bowen have tried hard alongside Emma Swanson and ruck Parris Laurie at the centre bounces, but will be tasked with combating the dominance of powerhouse GWS pair Alyce Parker and Rebecca Beeson. Both have been among the top three disposal and contested ball winners in the first three rounds, but have seen their hard work come unstuck further afield. The Giants should be able to see the game out better on the basis of experience, but will have to be wary.

Tip: GWS by 11

Image Credit: (Retrieved from) North Melbourne FC

AFL Women’s Saturday wrap: Giants outlast Suns in wet conditions for maiden 2021 win

THE Greater Western Sydney Giants finally put a win on the board on Saturday afternoon, defeating Gold Coast Suns in a rain-affected encounter at Blacktown International Sportspark, 2.6 (18) to 1.2 (8). Both teams were coming into this match off the back of comprehensive Round 2 losses, and while the Suns pressed hard after a tough first quarter, it was to no avail in the wet weather as they failed to put a major on the board until the final minutes of the match.

In an excellent start to the match the Giants were just about unstoppable, hogging the footy as Alyce Parker and Bec Beeson could not be separated from the action, as Taylah Davies and Alicia Eva slotted early goals to open proceedings and put some space between them and the traveling Suns. While the Suns were relatively composed running out of half back and dominated the marking contest, led by Jade Pregelj who collected a number of rebounds and Alison Drennan who piled on the physicality, the side could not clear the footy through the tightly contested Giants as a clogged midfield continuously sent the ball soaring back inside 50. While the tides changed in the second, with a clear scoring end coming to fruition as the Suns piled on the offensive pressure, the away side just could not pile on the scoreboard intensity they needed with the footy continuously rebounding between Lauren Ahrens and Elle Bennetts. A 15-point margin at quarter time only slightly changed to 16 points as the main break came around, with both sides failing to put a goal on the board.

Whilst the weather cleared up in the second half, the slippery conditions remained as frantic footy was played through the midfield and a tight one-on-one defence from both sides denied any easy chances for clearances. While the Suns denied the Giants a single goal after the first term and Jamie Stanton finally broke the drought with a Suns goal in the last minutes of the match, it was a tough slog for the Suns in a much tighter encounter than the scoreline suggested.

The trio of Parker (24 disposals and five tackles), Beeson (23 and seven) and Eva (15 and one goal) was impressive as ever, while Haneen Zreika was unstoppable early to finish with seven tackles and opposing rucks Erin McKinnon and Lauren Bella racked up 20 hitouts apiece. The Suns’ physicality was excellent with Drennan (22 disposals, 12 tackles) combing well with Serene Watson and Hannah Dunn (eight and seven tackles, respectively) while Ahrens and Stanton were also solid.

Image Credit: AAP/Dan Himbrechts

GWS GIANTS | 2.3 | 2.5 | 2.6 | 2.6 (18)
GOLD COAST SUNS | 0.0 | 0.1 | 0.1 | 1.2 (8)

GOALS:

Giants: T. Davies, A. Eva
Suns: J. Stanton

DC BEST:

Giants: A. Parker, R. Beeson, E. Bennetts, A. Eva, B. Tully
Suns: A. Drennan, J. Stanton, L. Ahrens, M. Levi, S. Watson

Credit: Getty Images

Experienced Blues overawe Saints

The second match of the evening saw the Saints host the Blues at Moorabbin, in the first crowd-less matchup of the round. Perfect conditions in Melbourne saw the home side get off to the perfect start, as Caitlin Greiser would not be rendered goalless for the second straight round and put the first goal through for the match with minute left in the quarter as the Saints dominated the early stages. With Greiser taking centre stage up forward for the Saints, the Blues would not be left wondering what could be playing an extra back to lighten the load of the likes of Mua Laloifi, but Greiser’s beautiful gather and goal from an angle well and truly outclassed the Blues backwoman on return from injury, allowing the Saints some breathing space and a slight seven-point upper hand heading into the first change.

But it was not all doom and gloom for Carlton, as the side picked up their game as the second term rolled around with two shocking weeks behind them and no desire to head in that same direction once more, as the side well and truly took advantage of the blustery wind to pile on the scoreboard pressure in the second quarter. It took only a perfect start from Elise O’Dea who was sent forward to do what she does best, hitting the scoreboard quickly and seeing the rest of the side pick up their game immediately as Maddy Prespakis got in on the action with a snap out of the back of a contest, and seeing a couple of excellent chains of handballs keep the footy moving fast down the field, evading Saints’ possession. While it was the experienced Blues cohort that got the show on the road in the second quarter, it was the young talent that lifted in the second half as Prespakis was aided by Grace Egan, Georgia Gee and Abbie McKay, with the latter two finding much more of the footy as the match opened up. A Kate Shierlaw purple patch – including the Saints’ second goal – was cut short as the tall was briefly sent off the field for a head knock, whilst the likes of Georgia Patrikios and Tyanna Smith were influential around the footy, matching up well against the Blues’ talent but unable to apply the offensive pressure the side so sorely needed.

A tough contest was had in the final term, and while the Saints proved they were more than capable of taking the game on, it was not enough as the Blues had the momentum and wind going in their favour. Whilst the Saints midfield and back-end worked in overdrive to push the footy forward once more, the Blues shut down the centre corridor and minimised options on the wing to continuously propel the footy back inside their attacking 50. Nic Stevens‘ second goal of the game – a soccer off the ground from within the square – well and truly put the ice on the cake for the then-winless Blues, as the side ran home with a solid 6-4 (40) to 2.4 (16) victory.

For the successful Blues, Prespakis and Egan led the way with 24 touches apiece, combining for eight tackles between them while McKay was not far behind with 17 touches and seven tackles alone. O’Dea had her best match in the navy blue, piling 21 disposals onto her season tally and booting the side’s opening goal, while Jess Hosking and Breann Moody were solid as ever. For the Saints, Patrikios was excellent with 20 disposals and five tackles, while Hannah Priest (18 disposals, six tackles and five marks) and Rosie Dillon (14 disposals and nine tackles) were also solid targets around the ground.

ST KILDA | 1.1 | 1.2 | 2.4 | 2.4 (16)
CARLTON | 0.0 | 3.1 | 5.1 | 6.4 (40)

GOALS:

St Kilda: C. Greiser, K. Shierlaw
Carlton: N. Stevens 2, L. Brazzale, M. Downie, E. O’Dea, M. Prespakis

DC BEST:

St Kilda: G. Patrikios, R. Dillon, H. Priest, K. Shierlaw, T. Lucas-Rodd
Carlton: M. Prespakis, G. Egan, E. O’Dea, A. McKay, J. Hosking

Credit: Getty Images

Dees triumph thanks to second term

demolition

Melbourne reigned supreme in an almighty top four battle as the Demons came from behind to claim an emphatic nine-point win over North Melbourne 9.6 (60) to 8.3 (51). Both sides headed into the Round 3 match undefeated but Melbourne proved their status as a powerhouse side in the AFL Women’s competition. highlighting their attacking mentality and peppering away at the goals in the second term to flip the script.

Despite multiple chances throughout the opening term the Dees struggled to find their kicking boots early while North Melbourne nailed the first two goals of the game. With the ball spending majority of time inside 50 for Melbourne, the Demons finally struck their first major as the clock ticked down to quarter time reducing the deficit to three points at the break. That momentum trickled into the second term as the Demons showcased their ability to link up with handballs and weave their way forward to steal the lead and slot four consecutive goals. Tegan Cunningham and Jackie Parry inspired the comeback second term with the pair combining for four goals in that quarter alone, showcasing their ability to get the job done both in the air and at ground level with Parry roving the pack and slotting a nice goal to really give Melbourne the ascendancy heading into half time.

Melbourne stretched the lead out to as much as 25 points before the Kangaroos tightened things up in the third term to pile on the scoreboard pressure and nullify the influence of the Dees. With a number of key cogs in the blue and white, the Roos found a way to be damaging as Daria Bannister picked up the slack with two goals in her side’s four goal term. But sensing a momentum switch, the Demons regathered their composure in the final stanza to keep North Melbourne at bay, trapping the ball inside 50 despite the margin getting as close as three points with only moments to spare.

It was the usual suspects for the Kangaroos that stood up in the contest as Jasmine Garner took the game into her own hands as shown through her mammoth 15 disposals, 12 tackles and two goal effort. Emma Kearney chimed in, amassing 16 touches while also slotting a timely goal to keep the Roos within touching distance of the Demons. Ashleigh Riddell was a key contributor with her 17 disposals as was Kaitlyn Ashmore who managed to find plenty of the footy thanks to her 16 disposals and two tackle performance. Jenna Bruton threw her weight around laying six tackles to accompany her 14 touches while Bannister kept the scoreboard ticking over banging home two majors.

For the Demons, Karen Paxman was a force to be reckoned with directing traffic and picking up a game-high 25 disposals. Paxman was involved in just about everything and made full use of her physical nature to match up against Kearney through the middle while on the goal-scoring front Cunningham was proving too big and too strong, outmuscling her opponents and kicking true out the front. Cunningham finished with two goals for the game as teammate Parry impressed with her three majors. Youngster Tyla Hanks provided that element of run and carry across the ground picking up 23 touches and nine tackles as Kate Hore was a real livewire with 15 touches and three marks. Maddison Gay made her presence felt recording seven tackles and 16 disposals in the win with Lily Mithen also a key playmaker for the Dees amassing 21 touches.

MELBOURNE | 1.3 | 7.4 | 8.4 | 9.6 (60)
NORTH MELBOURNE | 2.1 | 3.1 | 7.3 | 8.3 (51)

GOALS:

Melbourne: J. Parry 3, T. Cunningham 2, S. Scott 2, K. Hore, K. Paxman
North Melbourne: J. Garner 2, D. Bannister 2, G. Campbell, E. Kearney, S, Abbatangelo, I. Eddey

DC BEST: 

Melbourne: K. Paxman, T. Hanks, L. Mithen, M. Gay, T. Cunningham,
North Melbourne: J. Garner, E. Kearney, A. Riddell,  J.Bruton, K. Ashmore

AFL Women’s Saturday wrap: Pies’ final quarter finishing too much for Cats

COLLINGWOOD made it two for two after a strong final term saw it take the four points against Geelong at Victoria Park, 6.9 (45) to 2.4 (16). It was a high pressure and hotly contested game throughout, with both teams’ backlines showing strong understanding of team structures and the opposition ball movement.

The Cats started off looking to rectify the result of Round 1, earning themselves the first goal, coming from first gamer Olivia Barber, within the first minute of the game. The opportunity came from a smother on a Ruby Schleicher kick by Richelle Cranston, setting the tone for the intensity of pressure the Cats would continue for the quarter. Schleicher would respond four minutes later, earning herself a free kick and 50-metre penalty after receiving high contact when attempting to intercept a wayward kick out of the Pies’ forward line. With both teams using the ball well and constantly looking threatening it was a quarter that saw the backlines shine.

The Cats clean ball use and preparation around stoppages ended up earning them their second goal from Madeline Boyd. The quarter ended with Collingwood’s Mikala Cann getting a back-to-back 50-metre penalties for herself and kicking a goal from the square right on the siren.

The second quarter started where the first left off, both teams maintaining the tackling pressure that was present earlier, and having their backlines set up well for any attack. Despite having majority of the early play in their forward half, the Pies were largely wasteful in the second, missing some clear cut opportunities with minor scores. The second half of the quarter saw the cats have control, constantly sieging the Pies defence who did well to not concede a goal. We wouldn’t see our first goal until the 14th minute, with Chloe Molloy kicking a brilliant snap out the back of a pack. The efforts of Brittany Bonnici, Brianna Davey, Olivia Purcell and Julia Crockett-Grills made it difficult for either team to have a clear run heading inside forward 50.

The start of the second half was a supreme defensive effort from Geelong, with Jordan Ivey, Meghan McDonald and Rebecca Webster doing everything they could to resist a relentless Pies attack. The Pies found scoring opportunities coming fairly often throughout the quarter, but were unable to capitalise only getting three minor scores for their hard work. It was Sophie Alexander getting herself involved in everything up forward, with one effort from outside of 50 being deemed a touched behind after being chased down by cats players, she also showcased her marking ability with a contested grab that, unfortunately, didn’t eventuate into a score.

With the margin just 10 points despite the Pies controlling most of the third, the Cats were still in with a chance to snatch the game away. The fourth started similar to the last three quarters, hotly contested footy, with both backlines dealing with entries without much trouble and the midfields being hot on each other, not allowing any easy disposal. The Pies got themselves the first of the quarter to extend their lead, Davey finding time in all the chaos to sneak one in. They quickly followed up, with the previous goal kicker booting the ball in long from the centre bounce, having teammate Sarah Rowe reward the effort in her return game. Collingwood’s defence didn’t get complacent despite the lead, consistently repelling Geelong attacks into the late end of the quarter, with Schleicher even using an intercept possession to set up teammate, Alexander for a late goal.

It was a strong game for Davey and with 25 disposals and a goal she’ll be happy with her impact around the ground, as well as teammate, Bonnicci with 24 disposals and nine marks.

Webster and Purcell led the way for the Cats with 18 and 17 disposals respectively, and Crockett-Grills leading all comers for tackles with six. Debutants Barber, Stephanie Williams (Geelong) and Joanna Lin (Collingwood) all had good moments throughout the match as well, showing promise for the future.

Image Credit: Michael Willson/AFL Photos

COLLINGWOOD 2.0 | 3.4 | 3.7 | 6.9 (45)
GEELONG 2.2 | 2.3 | 2.3 | 2.4 (16)

GOALS:

Collingwood: S. Alexander, M. Cann, B. Davey, C. Molloy, R. Schleicher, S. Rowe
Geelong: O. Barber, M. Boyd

DC BEST:

Collingwood: B. Davey, R. Schleicher, B. Bonnici, J. Lambert, S. Livingstone
Geelong: R. Webster, O. Purcell, A. O’Connor, J. Crockett-Grills, A. McDonald

Credit: Dylan Burns/AFL Photos

DEMONS ACCELERATE AWAY FROM TOOTHLESS TIGERS

Melbourne’s perfect start to the season continued on Saturday as the Demons accelerated away from Richmond after quarter time to win by 28 points at Casey Fields. Having booted the opening goal of the game through Sabrina Frederick, the Tigers were kept goalless until the final term as Melbourne steadily increased its advantage, running out 7.2 (44) to 2.4 (16) victors on home turf.

The Demons snuck ahead in the second term via the boot of prize draftee Alyssa Bannan, who snared her first two senior goals in as many minutes to open up a handy buffer. Melbourne’s tall timbers up forward, which included the likes of Bannan, Tegan Cunningham, and Eden Zanker, proved a handful for the Richmond defence as the Dees’ midfield began to get on top of the seemingly single-string Tigers engine room.

Two-goal blocks per term saw Melbourne built insurmountable scoreboard pressure, advancing 34-points clear before new Richmond vice-captain Sarah Hosking claimed her first major in the yellow and black. The goal came with just a couple of minutes left on the clock after the former Carlton midfielder was caught in a dangerous tackle at the top of the goalsquare.

In the end, Melbourne’s hardness at the ball and greater avenues to goal saw them through, with bouncy transition in the second half also proving telling in the result. The Demons’ victory was only soured by what looked to be a serious hamstring injury to young forward Krstel Petrevski, who limped off in the ground in the third quarter.

At the core of Melbourne’s midfield success, the centre bounce combination of Lily Mithen (20 disposals, seven tackles), Tyla Hanks (19 disposals, six tackles), and Karen Paxman (19 disposals, one goal) worked wonders in the win. All Australian Kate Hore was typically productive forward of centre, booting a game-high two goals alongside Bannan.

Monique Conti was unsurprisingly back to her best for Richmond, leading all comers with 27 touches after a touch less opposition attention than last round. 2020 number one pick Ellie McKenzie was again prominent with her explosiveness on the attack, gathering 15 disposals, while talls Frederick and Harriet Cordner dug in at either end of the ground.

The result leaves Richmond 0-2 and with plenty to do to get something out of season 2021, while Melbourne is poised beautifully at 2-0 and looks every bit the finals contender having been thereabouts for many consecutive seasons.

MELBOURNE 1.0 | 3.1 | 5.2 | 7.2 (44)
RICHMOND 1.0 | 1.2 | 1.3 | 2.4 (16)

GOALS:

Melbourne: A. Bannan 2, K. Hore 2, T. Cunningham, S. Scott, K. Paxman
Richmond: S. Frederick, S. Hosking

DC BEST:

Richmond: M. Conti, E. McKenzie, H. Cordner, S. Frederick
Melbourne: L. Mithen, K. Hore, T. Hanks, K. Paxman, A. Bannan, E. Zanker

AFL Women’s Saturday wrap: Dees dismantle Suns with five-goal second term

MELBOURNE Demons have opened their season with a win on the road, toppling Gold Coast Suns by 21 points at Metricon Stadium yesterday. Led by a dominant duo of Karen Paxman and Lily Mithen, the Demons started slowly but recovered to win, 9.2 (56) to 5.5 (35) in front of more than 1900 fans.

The original fixture had the Demons at home against Adelaide, but despite the Sunshine State being a fair distance from Casey Fields, Melbourne was determined to make it a home away from home. It did not look that way early when Jamie Stanton converted a goal in the first 30 seconds of the match. Six minutes later and Leah Kaslar had the Suns’ second and the margin was out to 12. It took until past the midway point of the quarter before known goalsneak Kate Hore finally put through a major, and when Tegan Cunningham converted her first of the 2021 season, the scores were level again. A strong pack mark from Gold Coast recruit Sarah Perkins in the dying seconds of the term resulted in her new side taking a seven-point lead into quarter time.

The second quarter belonged to the visitors though, as Melbourne piled on five goals, starting with an Eden Zanker major in the opening minute of the term. Krstel Petrevski and Shelley Heath provided spark at ground level and brought up their first goals, while Cunningham kicked another and when Hore converted her second in the final minute, Melbourne was out to a 22-point lead at the main break. Petrevski became the third multiple goalkicker with a major six minutes into the term, which meant the Demons had kicked 6.1 to 0.2 since quarter time, turning a seven-point deficit into a whopping 28-point lead in just 26 minutes of action.

Brittany Perry finally broke the drought for the home side a couple of minutes later, only for Mithen to counter with another major for the red and blue. Perkins kicked her second to prove her worth as a target inside 50, but despite their best efforts, the Suns had only shaved the half-time deficit by one point to 20 at the final change.

Needing a miracle, Leah Kaslar had a chance but missed, and in what was an anticlimactic finish – though more than suitable for Melbourne – the teams only managed the one behind apiece in the final term for the siren to sound with Melbourne winning 9.2 (56) to 5.5 (35).

For the most part it looked like Paxman might rack up a record with 19 disposals at half-time, to finish with 25, as well as three marks and four tackles, while Mithen picked up 22 disposals and two marks to go with her goal. Tyla Hanks and Eliza McNamara battled above their heights to pick up 18 touches and lay six tackles between them, with McNamara’s debut one to remember. Jacqueline Parry (17 disposals) and both the Pearces – Daisy and Lauren – were also impressive, racking up 15 touches.

The Suns had a number of impressive players, with Stanton leading the way thanks to 18 disposals, three marks, two tackles and a goal, while Alison Drennan had 17 touches and nine tackles. Bess Keaney starred on debut herself with 15 disposals and six tackles. Looking ahead to Round 2, Gold Coast travel to Victoria Park on Saturday for an afternoon game, while Melbourne hosts Richmond at Casey Fields in the evening game.

GOLD COAST  3.1 | 3.3 | 5.4 | 5.5 (35)
MELBOURNE 2.0  | 7.1 | 9.1 | 9.2 (56)

GOALS
Gold Coast: Perkins 2, Stanton, Kaslar, Perry.
Melbourne: Cunningham 2, Hore 2, Petrevski 2, Zanker, Mithen, Heath.

ADC BEST 
Gold Coast: 
Stanton, Perkins, Keaney, Drennan, Ahrens
Melbourne: Paxman, Mithen, McNamara, L.Pearce, Cunningham, Hanks

Picture credit: Matt Roberts/Getty Images

Picture credit: Paul Kane/Getty Images

Phillips and Randall lead the Crows to a winning start

By: Tom Cheesman

Adelaide has produced a dominant second half to run away convincing 38-point winners against a young West Coast side at Mineral Resources Park. Premiership superstars Erin Phillips (23 disposals, five tackles, five marks, two goals) and Chelsea Randall (19 disposals, three marks, three tackles) led from the front and were a class above throughout the contest. Once numerous other premiership Crows stepped up in the second half, the Eagles struggled to get the ball into their forward 50 and could not overcome the Crows’ immense tackling pressure.

Chelsea Biddell gave her side a strong start when she collected the ball cleanly in congestion and kicked the first major of the match from 30-metres out. Draftee Ashleigh Woodland followed this up by kicking a nice snap goal with her first kick for the club, which was one of many impressive signs she showed on the day. Captain Randall, who missed the entire 2020 season with an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury, started the game at half-forward and made an immediate impact by providing a focal point for her side and continually moving the ball forward. West Coast’s quarter went from bad to worse when Brianna Green exited the field with an ankle injury after a heavy collision in a marking contest. Najwa Allen’s ball movement out of defence was a highlight for the visitors early, as was their pressure game.

The Crows led the tackle count 25 to 14 at the first break, which was particularly important because this was an area that they struggled in last season. This was led by debutant Teah Charlton, who had a remarkable six tackles in just the opening quarter. West Coast started the second term with more aggression and won plenty of contested balls at centre clearances and around the ground. The Eagles got their first goal through Mikayla Bowen after a nice pass from Shanae Davison, but Woodland immediately responded with her second after some clean ball movement from Randall. An uncharacteristic poor turnover from ex-Giant Lisa Whiteley led to some great counter-attacking play from Ashlee Atkins, which Niamh Kelly used her pace to get on the end of and kick her first goal in AFLW. Just minutes later, Kellie Gibson had a golden chance to bring the Eagles to within a point but missed the running shot on goal. Phillips was a sole shining light for Adelaide in the second term, as she was powerful in the contest and turning around opponents very crisply on the outside.

The Crows were lucky to go into the main break with a five-point lead given West Coast’s dominance in that term. Early in the third, Phillips received a 50-metre penalty for an encroachment by the woman on the mark and kicked truly from the goal square. Encroachment 50-metre penalties were a theme of the day in AFLW, as Gold Coast were penalised heavily for them in their match against Melbourne earlier in the afternoon. Just minutes after kicking her first, Phillips kicked another goal, this time on her left after cleverly selling some candy in congestion. Adelaide’s pressure up forward continued to cause problems for the Eagles, as Charlton and Woodland created another turnover and the latter found Marinoff by foot for another major. Speedster Eloise Jones was tripped inside 50 and kicked truly after the siren to give Adelaide a 32-point lead at three-quarter time.

The Crows dominated the inside 50s again early in the last term but missed a few opportunities to extend their lead. This was until Phillips won a free kick on the 50-metre arc and found Ailish Considine with a nice pass, who kicked Adelaide’s eighth goal from 30 metres out. Although no more goals were kicked for the rest of the match, Gibson was dangerous up forward late and created some chances for the Eagles in the closing minutes. Former Bulldog Aisling McCarthy (15 disposals, two marks, seven tackles) and Emma Swanson (17 disposals, 11 tackles, two marks) were two shining lights for the Eagles throughout the contest. The Eagles will look to rebound next week against the relocated GWS Giants on Saturday at Norwood Oval. Meanwhile, Adelaide will look to build on their impressive second half when they take on Fremantle in a Sunday blockbuster.

WEST COAST 0.1 | 2.3 | 2.3 | 2.6 (18)
ADELAIDE 2.1 | 3.2 | 7.5 | 8.8 (56)

GOALS:
West Coast: M. Bowen, N. Kelly 1.
Adelaide: E. Phillips 2, A. Woodland 2, C. Biddell, E. Marinoff, E. Jones, A. Considine 1.

ADC BEST:
West Coast: E. Swanson, A. McCarthy, D. Hooker, A. Atkins, M. Bowen, N. Kelly
Adelaide: E. Phillips, C. Randall, N. Allen, E. Marinoff, N. Gore, T. Charlton

2020 Top 10 AFLW matches: #6 – Demons cause opening round upset over flag favourites

COMING in at number six of our Top 10 count of the best AFL Women’s games for season is the Demons first round win over premiership favourites North Melbourne in a nail-biting contest at Casey Fields. Here’s how we recalled the game:

Melbourne has claimed a huge scalp in the opening round of the AFL Women’s 2020 season, downing one of the premiership favourites in North Melbourne at Casey Fields. In a see-sawing contest, the Demons scored the final goal of the game courtesy of Eden Zanker, in a low-scoring and blustery affair to win 3.4 (22) to 3.2 (20).

A warm and windy day at Casey Fields not only welcomed the return of AFL Women’s to the south-eastern suburbs of Victoria, but also the return of Melbourne captain, Daisy Pearce. The Dees’ skipper was playing her first competitive match since 2018, and started at half-back, winning an intercept possession straight off a clearance and getting in the thick of it early. Young gun, Tyla Hanks set the tone with a great tackle in the opening minute at half-back, but the going was tough early with both side’s defences standing up with the blustery conditions doing plenty to impact the inside 50 entries.

It took until the fifth minute when Kaitlyn Ashmore mowed down a Melbourne opponent close to goal and won a free kick 15m out on a 45 degree angle. The breeze did not pose a problem for the talented utility who slotted the first goal of the match. The Roos might have surprised a few by recruiting mature-age Western Bulldogs VFL Women’s recruit, Ellie Gavalas with their first pick, but she showed exactly why they brought her in with some great tackling ability, as did Melbourne Uni recruit, Tahni Nestor with a huge run-down tackle on Zanker to win a free kick. Ashmore’s forward work was looking good with a strong lead and mark about 35m out, but opted to pass which was spoiled.

With only their third inside 50, Melbourne’s Tegan Cunningham took a big contested mark, but her kick got caught in the breeze and fell short. An end-to-end play by the Roos saw Daisy Bateman mark on the 50m line, and knowing the distance was beyond her, looked for options. Luckily though, her opponent took a step too far on the mark, and Bateman was awarded a 50m penalty, converting the major from the goal square to put her side 12 points up with the quarter into red time. The home team was attacking fiercely late in the term, but back-to-back 50m penalties for mark infringements brought North Melbourne back to within goal-scoring range. The kick on goal fell short, and Gavalas nearly got her first major with a quick snap but missed to the right and the siren sounded with the Roos 2.1 (13) to Dees’ 0.0 (0).

Now with the wind at their backs, the Dees could start to mount an offensive themselves. A huge moment came in the sixth minute when Kate Hore produced a perfectly timed run-down tackle as her opponent went to clear the danger out of defence. The ball never connected with her boot and Hore converted the subsequent set shot from straight in front 30m out. Melbourne was on the board just over 20 minutes into the match.

The game was predominantly being played in Melbourne’s half, with the Demons constantly putting pressure on the Kangaroos’ defence. It worried the visitors into giving away a stoppage free to Elise O’Dea in front of goal, but her set shot drifted to the left courtesy of the strong breeze. Melbourne’s ‘Old Firm’ of O’Dea, Pearce and Karen Paxman were standing up and leading the side across the three lines, while the the speed and excitement of Hore and Shelley Heath inside 50 was piling on the pressure for the home side.

Hore was best-on for her impact in the game, pressuring an opponent to force the ball out of bounds and win a free kick deep in the pocket. Her set shot missed, but she would soon put her side in front with the last meaningful play of the quarter, after Zanker’s dribble attempt fortuitously bounced away from the goal, but also a North Melbourne opponent and bounced straight into the arms of the running Hore who converted from point-blank range.

Melbourne had a simple task against the wind – try to clog up the scoring to avoid North Melbourne holding an unassailable lead heading into the last term. For the first four minutes, nothing was able to penetrate past the last line of the Dees’ sturdy defence. With so much experience back there, they were able to work the ball out of the danger zone time and time again. Though the first meaningful chance came via a holding free to Emma King about 35m out straight in front. Her shot looked on target for the most part, but drifted to the left for one behind and levelled the scores.

While Pearce might have been the headline return story for the match, North had one of its own too, with Ash Riddell returning for just her third game after missing the rest of last season after going down in Round 2. She was in the right spot at the right time goal-side to receive a quick handball from Jasmine Garner to snap around her body and put it through with a celebration worthy of a vital match-turning goal. The Roos would need at least one more and now allow the home side to get one on the board of their own if they were to hold enough sway to restrict the opposition in the final term.

The match had shades of last year’s thrilling encounter, and while Cunningham had the chance to put her side back level with a tight shot from the boundary, it went to the right.  Melbourne was attacking fiercely in the dying minutes of the third term to try and get one against the flow, but North kept repelling time and time again, including a potentially match-winning tackle from Bethany Lynch inside defensive 50. The Roos led by five points at the final break, but the Dees would have the all-important win to try and reverse the 2019 result at this venue.

While North did all the attacking early in the fourth term, it was Melbourne’s ability to run and find space that was the difference in the end. Every player was in the Kangaroos’ half and it led to an end-to- end play by the Dees for Zanker to be all alone inside 50 to run into an open goal and put the Dees in front by a point. Melbourne had multiple chances to really ice the game over the next few minutes, but could not seem to put through the final dagger as the North defence stood up time and time again.

The Kangaroos kept trying to pump it long out of defensive 50, but the Demons set up behind the ball so every kick down through midfield was being picked off by the experienced Demons defenders. Both teams were desperate and the Roos coughed up another free kick and with 20 seconds remaining, the Demons were able to lock the ball up enough to win the game by just two points in a thrilling contest.

The 2018 Most Valuable Player (MVP), Emma Kearney finished with 20 touches and nine tackles, shaded by Riddell who was arguably the best on the ground after quarter time, racking up 20 disposals, five tackles and booting that timely third quarter goal, while Jenna Bruton laid 11 tackles and was fierce throughout the four quarters. Aside from Hore (13 disposals, two marks, three tackles and two goals) who was outstanding in crunch moments for the Dees, Paxman and O’Dea (both 15 disposals) and Pearce (12 disposals) were terrific.

MELBOURNE 0.0 | 2.2 | 2.3 | 3.4 (22)
KANGAROOS 2.1 | 2.1 | 3.2 | 3.2 (20)

GOALS:

Melbourne: K. Hore 2, E. Zanker.
Kangaroos: K. Ashmore, D. Bateman, A. Riddell.

ADC BEST:

Melbourne: K. Hore, D. Pearce, K. Paxman, E. O’Dea, S. Heath, T. Hanks
Kangaroos: A. Riddell, E. Kearney, J. Bruton, E. Gavalas, D. Hardiman, K. Ashmore

2020 AFL Women’s Round 4 review: Eagles claim maiden win, Dees get back on track

WEST Coast’s maiden win headlined Round 4 of the 2020 AFL Women’s season, with Melbourne returning to winning ways while Fremantle and Brisbane maintained their undefeated records to top the conferences. In our featured game of the weekend, Carlton exacted revenge for last year’s grand final loss with a thrilling win over Adelaide on the road.

COLLINGWOOD 0.1 | 2.1 | 3.1 | 4.1 (26)
MELBOURNE 2.1 | 4.1 | 6.1 | 7.4 (46)

Sophie Taylor

GOALS

Collingwood: S. Rowe 2, J. Lambert, S. Layton.
Melbourne: J. Parry, K. Hore, M. Gay, T. Cunningham, E. Zanker, C. Sherriff, S. Scott.

ADC BEST: 

Collingwood: J. Lambert, B. Davey, B. Bonnici, S. Layton, S. Rowe, A. Brazill
Melbourne: K. Paxman, T. Hanks, K. Hore, L. Birch, E. O’Dea, S. Scott

Melbourne needed a win after a disappointing Round 3 loss to St Kilda, and a win they did get on Friday night at Marvel Stadium, reigning supreme over a flat Collingwood outfit. The Dees well and truly ran over their opponents, though it was not without devastation on the Pies’ part with key defender and crosscoder Ash Brazill going down in the third and stretchered off the field with what has now been confirmed as an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear. 

A strong start from the Demons under a closed roof was exactly what they wanted, dominant in defence and transitioning well through the midfield to apply scoreboard pressure against the Magpies. Dees debutant Jacqui Parry booted the opening goal with her first kick in the AFL Women’s competition off the back of a 50m penalty, before Kate Hore opened her own account minutes later to take a good lead into the second term. Collingwood was quick to get a few back however, with ruck Sharni Layton unleashing an impressive major from an angle while a goal from Jamiee Lambert evened up the ledger moments later. The Dees were not about to let this one slip away however, with impressive offensive pressure and persistence inside 50 leading to goals from Eden Zanker and Tegan Cunningham. A midfield stalemate saw neither side able to capitalise for the rest of the quarter with pressure building and Melbourne staying one step ahead of the Magpies. Injury to Brazill halted the game with only minutes left in the third, before both sides continued to press forward in the final term but to no avail, only putting a goal apiece on the board – but not for a lack of trying, with the Dees losing their relative accuracy in the final quarter with three behinds on the board. 

Karen Paxman continued her stellar form this season with another best on ground effort for the Demons, collecting 24 touches and five marks to lead the disposal count ahead of Lambert (23 touches, seven tackles), Bri Davey (23 touches, seven tackles) and Britt Bonnici (22 disposals, six tackles) who were impressive as ever. Libby Birch held up well in defence, rebounding well and collecting 15 disposals and six marks down back, while Tyla Hanks impressed with 15 touches and five tackles. The Dees were far more efficient inside 50, but still will want to improve after only 47 per cent efficiency, while the Pies impressed at the stoppages with eight centre clearances and 26 hitouts, thanks to the height of Layton despite the aerial ability of Zanker.

RICHMOND 1.1 | 3.1 | 7.1 | 7.3 (45)
GEELONG 1.3 | 7.4 | 9.7 | 10.7 (67)

Sophie Taylor

GOALS

Richmond: C. Wakefield 3, S. Frederick, L. McClelland, K. Jacques, C. Bernardi.
Geelong: R. Cranston 2, G. Clarke 2, K. Darby, D. Higgins, O. Purcell, J. Crockett-Grills, R. Garing, A. Teague.

ADC BEST: 

Richmond: M. Conti, C. Wakefield, P. Monahan, K. Jacques, S. Frederick,
Geelong: O. Purcell, R. Cranston, M. McDonald, G. Clarke, J. Crockett-Grills, P. McWilliams

It was a feisty matchup between the two winless Conference B sides, with just about everything on the line. Geelong was poised in its pursuit for a maiden win in 2020, running over the expansion side in Richmond to reign supreme in Bendigo, 67-45. 

An even start saw both sides hungry for the ball, with both quick to get on the board thanks to goals from Kate Darby and Courtney Wakefield – her first of three – before both sides switched on the defensive pressure, making it tough for goals to be scored. Two behinds late in the quarter put Geelong’s nose in front heading into the second, while the likes of Monique Conti (28 disposals and five tackles) and Olivia Purcell (20 disposals, four tackles, one goal) proved their strength early for their respective sides. The second quarter saw the Cats well and truly blow the Tigers away, booting six goals to two and forcing Richmond to rethink their defensive strategy – which they clearly did, only conceding three goals in the second half. Geelong lead by as much as 40 points midway through the third quarter before the Tigers switched back into gear, dominating the second half of the third with four goals in 10 minutes, only separated by a Nina Morrison behind. A slow final term saw only the one goal kicked, with Geelong’s Julia Crockett-Grills cementing victory and leaving Richmond the only side to not yet have a win on the board this season. A head knock to Richmond key recruit Katie Brennan saw the star sidelined for the final quarter.

Wakefield booted a goal in each of the first three quarters as one of Richmond’s key performers alongside Conti, picking up 10 touches and five marks while the likes of Phoebe Monahan (20 disposals), Sabrina Frederick (one goal, nine disposals) and Kodi Jacques (one goal, six tackles) also put in solid performances for the losing side. For the Cats, Purcell was a ball magnet as usual, aided by Meghan McDonald (16 disposals, six marks) and Richelle Cranston (15 disposals, two goals). Georgia Clarke was also a solid option inside 50, booting two goals to go with another six individual goalkickers in an even team performance.

NORTH MELBOURNE 1.2 | 4.5 | 5.7 | 6.11 (47)
GOLD COAST SUNS 2.1 | 2.2 | 4.3 | 5.4 (34)

Sophie Taylor

GOALS

North Melbourne: D. Bateman 2, Em. King, S. Abbatangelo, El. King, J. Trend.
Gold Coast: K. Howarth 2, K. Surman, T. Ernst, L. Ahrens.

ADC BEST: 

North Melbourne: E. Kearney, J. Garner, E. Gavalas, A. Riddell, D. Bateman, K. Gillespie-Jones
Gold Coast: J. Stanton, J. Yorston, L. Ahrens, H. Dunn, K. Howarth, J. Pregelj

North Melbourne put a third solid 2020 win on the board in Round 4 when they took on the Gold Coast Suns, reigning supreme over the expansion side in a real make-or-break match for the Shinboners. The victory came down to dominant performances from key duo Jasmine Garner and Emma Kearney, with the pair combining for 56 disposals and 10 tackles. While the Kangaroos were not the most accurate on the day, their consistency and early lead kept them in good stead with an all-round team effort. 

While North Melbourne got the chocolates, it was Gold Coast that had the better start, responding well to an opening goal from Kangaroos’ Sophie Abbatangelo with goals from Tiarna Ernst and Kalinda Howarth’s first for the day coming amid behinds for the Roos. But while the Suns had the upper hand heading into the first change, it was North that switched on in the second term, peppering the posts to lead by 15 points at half-time. That buffer disappeared quickly however with the Suns coming within two points midway through the third before North cleaned it up and extended the lead once more thanks to a well-timed Emma King major. The Suns once again proved in the final term that they could get close, backing up their effort to once again come within a goals distance of a lead thanks to a goal from Lauren Ahrens, but a couple of rushed behinds for the Kangaroos proved they had the forward pressure to get the job done if only they cleaned up the contest inside 50. They did just that with less than three minutes left on the clock, with Daisy Bateman booting her second and all but sealing the deal in what was a mostly inaccurate match for the Roos. 

Howarth and Bateman were the top scorers for the match with two goals apiece, while Howarth was among the best for the Suns collecting 12 disposals and four marks to go with the majors. Jamie Stanton (17 disposals, seven marks, four tackles) and Jacqui Yorston (15 disposals, six tackles, five marks) were among the best for the Suns with Ahrens also up there, while Kate Surman collected nine tackles to go with her 12 touches and one goal, while North’s Ellie Gavalas equaled in tackles but racked up 21 touches while she was at it. While Garner and Kearney only booted a behind apiece, Garner’s 30 disposals and Kearney’s 26 ensured the Roos maintained control of the footy.

WEST COAST EAGLES 1.3 | 1.4 | 3.6 | 4.6 (30)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 0.2 | 2.3 | 2.5 | 3.8 (26)

Michael Alvaro

GOALS:

West Coast: G. Kelly, E. Swanson, H. Bullas, A. Atkins
Bulldogs: I. Huntington, D. Marshall, K. Rennie

ADC BEST:

West Coast: E. Swanson, D. Hooker, N. Kelly, G. Kelly, A. Atkins, I. Cameron
Bulldogs: E. Blackburn, G. Newton, K. McLeod, I. Huntington, K. Lamb, G. Lagioia

West Coast broke through to become the third 2020 expansion team to claim its first AFLW premiership points, edging the Western Bulldogs by four points in a tense tussle on home turf. The Eagles passed on some first half inaccuracy to their opponent as they held on for the 4.6 (30) to 3.8 (26) win, with jubilant scenes ensuing upon the final siren.

The Eagles enjoyed good spurts of possession early on, and landed the rightful first blow through a well-wrapped around Ashlee Atkins snap from the pocket. The goal made up most of the difference between the sides in the first term, but it did not take long for the Bulldogs to wrestle back momentum and get on top in the following quarter. Skipper Ellie Blackburn again proved to be the Bulldogs’ main source of inspiration heading inside forward 50, and her kick to find Kimberley Rennie deep helped ensure her side would gain a half time lead. But in a low-scoring contest, the loss of Bonnie Toogood to a knee injury was a body blow to the visitors’ chances of holding on.

West Coast would take full advantage, hitting back as the tide once again began to turn in favour of the home side. After the lead was quickly taken back via some smart Emma Swanson and Imahra Cameron teamwork, Hayley Bullas‘ opportunistic soccer goal from nothing ensured the Eagles had more than a one-goal buffer heading into the final turn. But it could well have been scrapped if Kirsten McLeod‘s dribbler just after the siren had rolled through a couple of seconds earlier, with the forward appealing for the call. Grace Kelly’s goal over the back made things even tougher in the fourth quarter, but the ‘Dogs kept hitting back and were given a sniff through Isabel Huntington‘s precise set shot conversion. It proved too little, too late though as the Eagles toughed out the final five minutes and ran out deserving winners, compounding a frustrating year for the ‘Dogs with a third-straight loss.

Swanson was terrific for the winners with a game-high 22 disposals (20 kicks) and eight tackles, while Dana Hooker (19 disposals) proved a real presence around the ball going both ways with nine tackles. Irish sisters Grace (14 disposals, one goal) and Niamh Kelly (16 disposals, 0.2) continue to show promise going forward, with the likes of Atkins and Cameron also adding to the forward threat. For the Bulldogs, Blackburn’s 19 touches were important, but the emergence of number one draft pick Gabby Newton (16 disposals, 10 tackles, five marks) would be most exciting. Kirsty Lamb, Aisling McCarthy, and McLeod (six behinds combined) all had opportunities close to goal but could not capitalise in what was the story of the Bulldogs’s day, while up the other end Gemma Lagioia proved solid with 12 disposals and three marks. Both 1-3 in Conference B, the two sides will go on to face another set of conference rivals in Round 5 as the ‘Dogs face Collingwood and West Coast travels to do battle with Melbourne – both on Sunday.

ST KILDA 0.1 | 1.1 | 2.4 | 3.5 (23)
FREMANTLE 0.2 | 1.3 | 1.3 | 3.6 (24)

Michael Alvaro

GOALS:

St Kilda: C. Greiser, O. Vesley, M. McDonald.
Fremantle: J. Stewart, K. Bowers, K. Flood.

ADC BEST:

St Kilda: A. Drennan, R. Dillon, O. Vesley, R. Watt, C. Greiser, T. Lucas-Rodd
Fremantle: K. Bowers, P. Seth, H. Miller, K. Grieve, G. Houghton, E. Antonio

Fremantle pulled off the great escape with a dramatic one-point victory over the desperately unlucky St Kilda, with Gemma Houghton‘s last-minute behind the difference in what was a thriller at Moorabbin. A 50-metre penalty against 18-year-old star Molly McDonald – who was very nearly the Saints’ hero after a lovely final term snap – ultimately proved most costly, gifting Kate Flood the opportunity to level the scores and confirming the footy gods can be nothing short of cruel.

Earlier, the wind played a factor in a low-scoring opener, with the 2-1 scoreline replicating that of a soccer match and the Dockers struggling to adjust in their first real game on the road. But they would be first to find the big sticks in the following stanza as Houghton tapped deftly down to Jasmin Stewart from a forward 50 stoppage to get the ball rolling. The early buffer was reigned back again to within a goal though as Olivia Vesley finished off a rolling Saints passage of play to keep them within striking distance, behind by just two points at the main break.

With Tarni White having already gone down in excruciating pain with a left knee injury, Kate McCarthy‘s awkward leg knock in the third term meant the Saints’ chances of a comeback were dwindling. But no one told that to Caitlin Greiser, who slammed home a major early in the third term to help St Kilda claim the lead. In keeping Freo scoreless up the other end, the Saints found themselves in the box seat for an unlikely upset win, and McDonald’s final term goal looked like being enough for the win. But just as quickly as the pre-listed prospect marked an errand Rhiannon Watt clearance and dropped the ball out of bounds, she realised her mistake as the umpire blew for a costly 50-metre penalty. Houghton’s two opportunities running into an open goal should truly have been the difference though, with the Dockers lucky to come away victors and remain perfect in season 2020.

Philipa Seth (17 disposals) found the most ball of any Docker, but it was the likes of Kiara Bowers (13 disposals, 12 tackles), Ebony Antonio (13 disposals, six tackles), and Katie-Jayne Grieve (12 disposals, six tackles) who had that two-way impact. There were plenty of contributors for the Saints too, with Rosie Dillon having a game-high 18 disposals, while Alison Drennan (17) and Tilly Lucas-Rodd (16) were not far behind. Vesley continued her impressive come-up with 14 touches and a goal, while the ‘G-Train’, Greiser was impactful with her eleven kicks and lone major. The Saints will look to hit back but face a tough ask in battling Carlton at Ikon Park in Round 5, while Fremantle takes on Brisbane in a battle between the two undefeated conference leaders.

BRISBANE LIONS 2.5 | 4.5 | 7.7 | 7.9 (51)
GWS GIANTS 1.0 | 2.5 | 2.5 | 3.5 (23)

Michael Alvaro

GOALS:

Brisbane: J. Wardlaw 2, C. Svarc 2, E. Bates, K. Lutkins, L. Postlethwaite.
GWS: R. Privitelli, A. Schmidt, Y. Bonner.

ADC BEST:

Brisbane: C. Svarc, E. Bates, J. Wardlaw, A. Anderson, K. Lutkins, M. Moloney
GWS: H. Zreika, E. Bennetts, R. Beeson, N. Barr, B. Tully, A. Parker

Brisbane Lions roared back to the top of Conference A with a comprehensive 28-point win over GWS on home turf to close out Round 4, moving to 3-0-1. The winners maintained their undefeated start to the season on the back of some awesome individual efforts, but overpowered the GIANTS across the ground to wow home fans and neutrals alike.

The win was set up in the opening term and consolidated in the third, with the Lions booting 5.7 of their eventual 7.9 total across the two periods of play. Mature-aged draftee Catherine Svarc kicked off the game of her life by latching onto a long ball over the back of a contest and booting the ball out of mid-air through the big sticks, while promising tall forward Jesse Wardlaw also got on the board with a lovely set shot conversion. Rebecca Privitelli‘s contested grab and own set shot up the other end kept the GIANTS in the contest though, with Svarc and Emily Bates running rampant. The theme continued as Katie Lutkins‘ standout second term goal on the run looked to help Brisbane break the shackles, but it was cancelled out late in the half as Aimee Schmidt narrowly slotted GWS’ second major.

Much of the resistance was broken heading into the third term, and the floodgates finally opened mid-way through the quarter as the Lions piled on three majors. One of which was 2019 number three draft pick, Lily Postlethwaite‘s first ever AFLW goal, while Svarc’s second six-pointer from a tight angle got the crowd on its feet shortly after, effectively putting the result beyond doubt. The contest fizzed out in a much less eventful closing stanza, with the GIANTS managing to withstand any more damage while troubling the scorers once more themselves through Irishwoman, Yvonne Bonner‘s booming boot. It made the margin slightly more respectable, but did not take away from what was a dominant Brisbane win.

Svarc’s 23 disposals, 11 tackles and two goals were made even more incredible by the fact that she was tagging Alyce Parker, with the young GIANT managing a subdued 11 touches. Bates also continued to take the next step in her development, amassing 24 disposals and booting a goal, while the reliable Ally Anderson had a game-high 25 touches and Wardlaw showed good signs with two goals from 10 disposals and five marks. For the GIANTS, Haneen Zreika returned another solid shift with her team-high 15 disposals, with defender Elle Bennetts having 14 to stay true to her form. A bunch of GWS ball-winners were good without being outstanding, with Parker kept quieter than usual, and Alicia Eva unable to get going. Eva and the GIANTS will face a winless Richmond side next time out in a good chance to snare a win, while Brisbane is set to take on Fremantle in a battle of the conference table-toppers.

2020 AFL Women’s preview: Round 4 – Erin Phillips returns for Grand Final rematch

ROUND 4 of the 2020 AFL Women’s season is set to be a big one, with a grand final rematch and a bushfire relief match among a number of key matchups. Melbourne has a third Friday night matchup in a row with a battle against Collingwood as a curtain-raiser to the men’s State of Origin for bushfire relief, while Adelaide and Carlton clash on Sunday afternoon with the massive and highly anticipated return of Erin Phillips in tow.

Friday, February 28

Collingwood v. Melbourne, Marvel Stadium, 5:35pm AEDT

Taylah Melki

In the curtain raiser to the AFL Bushfire Relief game at Marvel Stadium, Collingwood will be hoping to return to the winners list with a victory against the fourth placed Melbourne. The Pies were pipped at the post last round, despite dominating inside 50s and possession count and will need to rectify that if they are to win against a strong Demons outfit. It will be an evenly poised game with both teams winning two games and losing one apiece highlighting just how tight the competition is and more importantly how important a victory here would be for their finals chances.

Collingwood have improved rapidly in 2020 with their fast pace ball movement and running style of play on full display throughout each of their games. The return of Chloe Molloy has done wonders to the side with the talented footballer not afraid to get down and dirty, extracting the ball at the coalface and disposing of it cleanly. She is not the only valuable inclusion with Bri Davey making a name for herself in the black and white. Davey is a good ball user and often imposes herself with her physical nature while Jaimee Lambert has taken her game to another level with her attack on the footy and accuracy in front of goal. If this trio can get going on Friday night it will go a long way in getting the Pies over the line. Defensively the likes of Ash Brazill and Stacey Livingstone have put up a wall in defence with the two rebounding well out of the back 50 and taking a host of marks to repel any forward forays. Brit Bonnici and Sarah Rowe are coming off hot performances with the two winning a truck load of the footy last round and will be hoping to repeat those efforts once again this week. Sharni Layton has been a revelation in the ruck for Collingwood with her well-timed taps and physical development making her a real force to be reckoned with.

The Demons are not without star power of their own and will have a real hunger in the belly after a narrow five-point loss in Round 3. Pregnancy does not seem to have stopped Daisy Pearce with her clever ball use and general footy understanding on full display each and every game. Other keys players the likes of Karen Paxman down back and Elise O’Dea through the midfield have been huge for Melbourne consistently winning the ball and using it carefully to hit up targets and not waste opportunities. Libby Birch has continued to develop throughout the opening games of the 2020 season with her consistent ability to put boot to ball while the tackling pressure of Tyla Hanks and Chantel Emonson have been key contributions in the Demons victories. Up forward Melbourne have a wealth of options with Tegan Cunningham able to clunk marks midair and kick truly while the likes of Aliesha Newman will be hoping to return to the scoreboard after a lean couple of weeks.

Tip: Collingwood by 10 points.

COLLINGWOOD

B: A.Porter 9 S.Livingstone 12
HB: L.Butler 23 S.D’Arcy 4 R.Schleicher 18
C: S.Rowe 7 M.Cann 25 S.Chiocci – C 17
HF: S.Dargan 46 A.Brazill 10 B.Davey 3
F: S.Layton 1 C.Molloy 2
Foll: E.Fowler 15 B.Bonnici 8 J.Allen 6
I/C: A.Sheridan 14 J.Lambert 13 S.Casey 22 J.Membrey 21 K.Lynch 16

Emerg: E.Hynes 11 K.Stratton 41

In: K.Lynch
Out: K.Stratton

MELBOURNE

B: L.Birch 9 M.Downie 2
HB: S.Lampard 8 S.Goldrick 23 D.Pearce – C 6
C: C.Sherriff 18 E.O’Dea 5 C.Emonson 11
HF: K.Hore 10 T.Cunningham 1 S.Scott 12
F: E.Zanker 29 T.Hanks 28
Foll: H.Cordner 21 K.Paxman 4 M.Gay 3
I/C: G.Colvin 32 J.Parry 19 N.McEvoy 17 L.Pearce 15 A.Newman 16

Emerg: K.Petrevski 31 B.Tarrant 20

In: J.Parry, L.Pearce
Out: S.Heath (Illness), M.Guerin (injured)

Saturday, February 29

Richmond v. Geelong, Queen Elizabeth Oval, 3:10pm

Taylah Melki

Both sides are yet to win a game in season 2020 and with the Tigers chasing their first ever win expect this to be a tough battle. On paper Richmond have a stronger team with a couple of key players able to turn a game on its head but have struggled to generate any real momentum so far while on the other hand the Cats have a plethora of young talents that would be hoping to get the ball rolling in the winning department. Although it is a bottom of the table clash expect both sides to bring plenty of intensity and hunger to win the pill at the coalface.

The Tigers have two key pillars inside the forward 50 with captain Katie Brennan looking to really assert herself on the competition after a slow start to the Richmond legacy. Brennan is renowned for her strong leading patterns, clean hands and ability to hit the scoreboard something she will want to do early in the clash to gain early ascendancy in the match. fellow forward Sabrina Frederick will also be hoping to throw her weight around inside the forward 50 and clunk some big marks to send shock waves through the Cats defensive unit. If both Frederick and Brennan can get the scoreboard clicking over early and apply some heat inside the forward arc it will go a long way in setting up a potential win. Through the midfield Monique Conti has been in hot form with the highly skilled footballer good below the knees and able to sight players on the lead even when in congestion. Grace Campbell is not afraid to apply physical pressure coming off a 10-tackle game last round while Phoebe Monahan will want to keep the good times rolling. Christina Bernardi  will want to lift her output to give the Tigers a chance of toppling the Cats.

With no wins in 2020 the Cats will be hoping to use their possession style of footy to upset the Tigers and create separation at the bottom of the ladder. Although they do not have the likes of Brennan up forward their youth is what drives them with Olivia Purcell and Nina Morrison able to explode out of the middle and cause headaches with their ball winning abilities. Morrison is not afraid to throw her body into the contest, often at the bottom of the pack trying to free the footy and push it down forward. Melissa Hickey is another key cog for the Cats credit to her high footy IQ and clever positioning across the ground while Richelle Cranston can set the game alight with her speed and strength, able to rag doll opponents and break free with ease. when it comes to scoring options the likes of Madeleine Boyd and Phoebe Williams are the main dangers with the two able to sight the goals and kick truly. Both Jordan Ivey and Madeline Keryk have shown their defensive prowess credit to their strong tackling pressure and will want to replicate that form again this round to down the Tigers.

Tip: Richmond by 5 points.

RICHMOND

B: S.Sansonetti 18 G.Seymour 28
HB: R.Miller 15 P.Monahan 2 H.Whitford 20
C: H.Burchell 9 K.Brennan – C 3 S.Molan 1
HF: M.Brancatisano 5 L.McClelland 16 C.Bernardi 6
F: C.Wakefield 8 S.Frederick 14
Foll: A.Edmonds 11 M.Conti 4 K.Jacques 10
I/C: A.Makur Chuot 34 G.Campbell 43 E.Wood 17 A.Woodward 13 L.Bailey 12

Emerg: C.Fitzgerald 26 L.Lesosky-Hay 23

In: H.Whitford
Out: L.Tesoriero (injured)

GEELONG

B: M.Brown 19 M.McMahon 24
HB: M.Keryk 45 M.McDonald 11 M.Hickey – C 18
C: S.Van De Heuvel 27 R.Webster 21 N.Morrison 9
HF: D.Higgins 2 P.McWilliams 23 J.Ivey 5
F: R.Cranston 30 R.Garing 12
Foll: A.O’Connor 14 J.Crockett-Grills 6 O.Purcell 16
I/C: R.Goring 44 A.McDonald 3 K.Darby 8 A.Teague 40 G.Clarke 17

Emerg: G.Rankin 10 C.Blakeway 4

In: K.Darby, A.Teague
Out: M.Boyd, R.Caris

North Melbourne v. Gold Coast, Arden Street Oval, 5:10pm

Sophie Taylor

It may be a battle of second and fifth in Conference A this round, but a lot is at stake for the Kangaroos if they lose this match, only sitting two competition points ahead of the Suns. If both GIANTS and Crows get wins and the Roos go down to the Suns, North are in danger of dropping as low as fifth which could really test the side heading into the mid-point of the season. However, a win for the Suns could put them in an unprecedented position in second on the ladder and facing two currently winless teams in the coming weeks in Geelong and West Coast Eagles, which could set the Suns up for a solid run home and potential finals chance.

For North Melbourne, they will want a fast start at their Victorian home, and with the Suns having to make the trip down to Melbourne, the Roos are sure to make it count, especially given the stakes. With the likes of Emma Kearney, Jenna Bruton, Ash Riddell and Jasmine Garner providing key options around the field, North are at no risk of running out of ball movers and can be hard to stop once they get inside 50. 2019 Tasmanian draftee Mia King will get her first taste of the big league against Gold Coast, with a chance at proving herself against an unchanged Suns outfit.

The likes of Lauren Bella (57 hitouts), Jordann Hickey (averaging 21 intercept possessions) and Jamie Stanton (averaging 20 intercept possessions and 16.7 disposals) will be key for the Suns, but while they have a number of solid forward options they are likely to have a tough time against the Roos who will want to show who’s boss after an impressive win against Richmond last round. Despite a draw last round, the Suns have maintained the same list so will look to retain some of the grunt they had last week against the Lions and build on their consistency.

Tip: North Melbourne by 20 points.

NORTH MELBOURNE

B: T.Randall 16 B.Gibson 18
HB: J.Grierson 19 D.Hardiman 31 A.Gilroy 8
C: J.Trend 21 J.Garner 25 A.Riddell 7
HF: S.Abbatangelo 1 K.Gillespie-Jones 5 K.Ashmore 10
F: E.King 60 E.King 4
Foll: V.Saad 39 E.Kearney – C 9 J.Bruton 35
I/C: D.Bateman 11 S.Wright 17 E.Gavalas 22 M.King 23 T.Nestor 24

Emerg: E.Humphries 6 B.Lynch 20

In: D.Hardiman, M.King
Out: B.Lynch, A.Green

GOLD COAST

B: J.Pregelj 42 J.Hickey 4
HB: S.Virgo 22 L.Ahrens 7 S.Watson 14
C: T.Ernst 19 H.Dunn 24 C.Hammond 29
HF: E.Hampson 21 J.Hewett 20 P.Parker 1
F: K.Howarth 23 K.Surman 26
Foll: L.Bella 2 L.Kaslar – C 11 J.Stanton 17
I/C: D.Heslop 25 B.Perry 16 M.Ritson 12 T.Thorn 15 J.Yorston 5

Emerg: T.Groves-Little 3 A.Hamilton 30

In: None
Out: None

West Coast Eagles v. Western Bulldogs, Leaderville Oval, 7:10pm

Sophie Taylor

It’s a high stakes, but low level clash between the two Western sides, with the Eagles one of three teams yet to put a win on the board while the Bulldogs have just the one win on the board so far for the season in a start to the year that eerily mirrors that of 2019. The Bulldogs should be feeling fairly confident going into this match despite being in enemy territory, which is one thing the Eagles will have going for them after a horror start to the season.

The Eagles will look to the experience and star power of Dana Hooker and Emma Swanson to do what they do best, with run and carry and an innate ability to find the footy key for the Eagles to get that inaugural win on the board. Youngster Mickayla Bowen has been steadily improving week by week so will aim to continue that run, while only five players – including Bowen – have put goals on the board for the season, with no multiple goalkickers, making it a real test to see whether the Eagles can apply some scoreboard pressure to get a win. Parris Laurie has averaged 20 hitouts per game to start the season – second in the competition – so will look to use the ball to advantage against a relatively even opposition in Kimberley Rennie (equal third with Lauren Bella) for the Dogs.

The Bulldogs have a number of changes heading into this round, with Ashleigh Guest joining the fray while 18-year-olds Hannah Munyard and Britney Gutnecht will make their debut in the absence of key names in Brooke Lochland, Angelica Gogos and Deanna Berry. Munyard and Gutnecht are sure to fit in well with the relatively young Dogs side, and paired with fellow young guns in Gabby Newton, Gemma Lagioia and Elisabeth Georgostathis, will look to have an impact on enemy territory. Bonnie Toogood and Ellie Blackburn will look to maintain control across the field to enable the Dogs opportunities to drive forward.

Tip: Bulldogs by 16 points.

WEST COAST

B: B.Smith 14 T.Radan 26
HB: C.Perera 27 S.McDonald 35 C.Davidson 33
C: M.Bowen 1 I.Cameron 19 N.Kelly 12
HF: K.Gibson 2 G.Kelly 15 M.Collier 8
F: A.Atkins 9 E.McGuire 31
Foll: P.Laurie 25 D.Hooker 17 E.Swanson – C 13
I/C: M.Dowrick 5 B.Devlyn 7 H.Bullas 24 E.Bonser 6 C.Guard 4

Emerg: K.Orme 32 K.Bartlett 20

In: C.Davidson, E.McGuire
Out: T.Tester (injured), K.Orme

WESTERN BULLDOGS

B: E.Gamble 14 L.Spark 11
HB: K.Herron 31 I.Huntington 4 N.Ferres 16
C: B.Hunt 21 K.Lamb 27 G.Lagioia 12
HF: G.Newton 5 B.Toogood 8 K.McLeod 6
F: D.Marshall 26 E.Georgostathis 17
Foll: K.Rennie 24 E.Blackburn – C 2 A.McCarthy 15
I/C: E.Brown 9 A.Guest 19 H.Munyard 20 H.Scott 22 B.Gutknecht 18

Emerg: N.Callinan 10 A.Van Oosterwijck 28

In: A.Guest, H.Munyard, B.Gutknecht
Out: D.Berry (concussion), A.Gogos (knee), B.Lochland (quad)

Sunday, March 1

Adelaide v. Carlton, Hisense Stadium, 1:10pm

Sophie Taylor

Erin Phillips will make a much-awaited return on Sunday when the Crows take on their 2019 grand final foes in Carlton. While Carlton have improved in leaps and bounds since last year’s final, it’s safe to say the Crows will come in favourites despite sitting on the same win-loss record for the season so far (2-1). Both sides come into this round off the back of solid wins in Round 3, but have also fallen to unlikely foes in the opening rounds so will be in for an interesting battle on Sunday afternoon.  Both teams have the ability to jump up the ladder with a win this week to put them in good stead for a finals berth even at this earlier stage of the season, though for Carlton a loss could be catastrophic with a number of teams on their trail and looking to break into the top three of Conference B. Both sides have a plethora of young talent that’s punctuated by a wealth of experience, making for an interesting contest.

With the handy inclusion of Phillips, the Crows will be hard to stop after showing some impressive form this season despite key injuries. The likes of Anne Hatchard and Ebony Marinoff have impressed early, sitting on a total of 82 and 72 disposals respectively to start the season, leading the competition and creating a formidable opposition across the ground. With 12 tackles last week, Marinoff will want to provide that same pressure again this week while Hatchard will hope to return to her Round 1 form where she racked up 35 touches. The likes of Danielle Ponter and Madison Newman are able to have an impact when required to make for a real battle of the young guns, and while Newman did not have the desired impact last round, Ponter put four goals on the board to prove her strength in the competition.

Carlton duo Maddy Prespakis and Lucy McEvoy are as consistent as they come despite their youth, creating opportunity down the field and working well with their teammates to provide plenty of ball inside 50. The real test for the Blues will be to find the likes of Tayla Harris, who has booted three goals for the season but needs to lift her game if the Blues want to get past the Crows this round. Defensively, the likes of Kerryn Harrington and Vaomua Laloifi have been stellar with 18 and 17 intercept possessions from their respective three matches, while 19-year-old Grace Egan leads the tackling count with 19.

Tip: Adelaide by 12 points.

ADELAIDE

B: D.Cox 31 M.Rajcic 32
HB: J.Mules 23 S.Allan 39 N.Allen 8
C: A.Foley 3 E.Marinoff 10 A.Considine 16
HF: S.Thompson 14 E.Phillips – C 13 E.Jones 2
F: D.Ponter 15 C.Biddell 12
Foll: J.Foley 24 A.Hatchard 33 C.Gum 5
I/C: R.Forth 27 S.Li 19 N.Gore 7 N.Campbell 20 R.Metcalfe 11 C.Gould 1 M.Newman 17

In: A.Considine, E.Phillips, R.Metcalfe
Out: C.Cramey (injured)

CARLTON

B: G.Pound 6 B.Vernon 31
HB: K.Harrington – C 9 V.Laloifi 8 N.Stevens 21
C: C.Dalton 15 G.Gee 19 S.Hosking 10
HF: J.Edwards 25 T.Harris 7 N.Plane 32
F: L.McEvoy 13 D.Vescio 3
Foll: B.Moody 16 G.Egan 1 M.Prespakis 4
I/C: J.Hosking 11 A.Downie 30 K.Loynes 2 L.Brazzale 12 B.Walker 14 C.Wilson 20 C.Jones 22

In: C.Wilson, C.Jones
Out: None

St Kilda v. Fremantle, RSEA Park, 3:10pm

Tom Cheesman

St Kilda are looking to cause their second major upset in the space of a fortnight when they take on the unbeaten Fremantle at RSEA Park. The Saints got their first win of the season last weekend by taking down premiership fancies Melbourne at Moorabbin. Fremantle are also coming off a major three-point victory against Collingwood to continue their undefeated streak. Given Conference B rivals Collingwood, Carlton and Melbourne all have difficult matchups this weekend, the Dockers will be looking to extend their lead on top of the table with a dominant performance. However, if St Kilda can match the intensity they have brought in their last two encounters, this should be a great challenge for the Dockers.

Speedy midfielder Georgia Patrikios has been a revelation for the Saints this season, breaking the lines with run and carry to launch her side into attack. The excitement machine averages 17 disposals, four tackles and two inside 50s per game. Key forward Caitlin Greiser has also made a major impact, kicking four goals in her past two matches and providing a strong presence up forward. Tarni White has been tidy for the Saints in defence, while Tilly Lucas-Rodd continues to find plenty of the ball through the midfield.

Fremantle’s forward line has been outstanding so far in 2020, led by Sabreena Duffy and youngster Roxanne Roux. Duffy leads the race for AFLW’s Leading Goalkicker alongside Brisbane’s Jesse Wardlaw, while Roux trails them by just one goal. Roux has also been working up the ground to register three marks, two tackles and two inside 50s per game. Kiara Bowers has been outstanding up the centre of the ground, averaging 15 disposals, four inside 50s and an astonishing 15 tackles per game. Meanwhile, Hayley Miller and Philpa Seth will look to back up their strong performances against Collingwood last week.

Tip: Fremantle by 11 points.

ST KILDA

B: T.White 29 T.Luke 22
HB: H.Priest 14 A.Brown 2 T.Lucas-Rodd 18
C: N.Exon 15 R.Dillon 25 M.McDonald 1
HF: C.Munn 13 K.McCarthy 9 C.Greiser 17
F: K.Shierlaw 12 G.Patrikios 21
Foll: R.Watt – C 7 A.Drennan 8 C.Phillips 35
I/C: D.Guttridge 5 C.Fitzpatrick 24 O.Vesely 23 N.Xenos 27 I.Shannon 11 S.Johnson 6 P.Kelly 16

In: C.Fitzpatrick, S.Johnson, P.Kelly
Out: J.Sedunary (injured)

FREMANTLE

B: J.Cuthbertson 29 L.Mascall 14
HB: A.Stannett 24 P.Seth 18 L.Pugh 32
C: K.Grieve 13 H.Miller 19 B.Webb 26
HF: E.Antonio 12 R.Roux 17 A.Sharp 1
F: G.Houghton 27 S.Duffy 6
Foll: M.Strom 21 K.Bowers 2 K.Antonio – C 15
I/C: K.Flood 44 J.Stewart 7 E.Gooch 8 L.Rohde 11 G.O’Sullivan 22 E.O’Driscoll 3 M.Clifford 4

In: E.O’Driscoll, M.Clifford
Out: None

Brisbane Lions v. Greater Western Sydney GIANTS, Hickey Park, 5:10pm

Sophie Taylor

The final match of the round will see a big one between first and third on the Conference A ladder, with the Lions only ahead thanks to a draw last round against the SUNS. Both sides will come into this match with plenty to prove, with little change to their respective Round 3 lists and potential bragging rights to stay atop the ladder. The undefeated Lions haven’t looked back this season, with impressive wins to start the season before the draw last week marred their perfect record. With an ability to pile on the goals and fairly quickly at that, the GIANTS could be in for a tough one if the Lions have their eye in, especially given their inconsistency staring the season.

Brisbane will welcome back Jess Wuetschner for the first time since Round 1, adding another key cog to their already solid rotation, with Lauren Arnell and Emily Bates having good starts to the season while Jesse Wardlaw booted three goals in Round 2 so will hope to get back to that form this week against the GIANTS, currently leading the sides’ goalkicking tally with five to her name and plenty more opportunities to add to that. Alexandra Anderson has also proved to be a handy inclusion with an average of 18 touches per game for the season so far and has steadily improved and developed her game since her 2017 debut. Young gun Lily Postlethwaite had a slow match last week against a tough outfit in Gold Coast so will want to prove her point in this matchup after collecting a handful of touches and applying some good pressure on the body in the opening rounds.

The GIANTS have some solid names among their group, but this season have ultimately struggled to find their form – up until last round, when they dominated against a lowly West Coast outfit. Alyce Parker and Alicia Eva have been consistent as ever this season, leading from the front and create a contest wherever they go. The pair lead majority of the stats for the GIANTS in what has been a frankly sloppy start to the season, but have kept their heads high to reap the reward of their consistency with the win last round. GWS are another side that has a smattering of goalkickers that have not really had a chance to star yet this season, meaning this could be their opportunity if they can take control early.

TIP: Brisbane by 15 points.

BRISBANE

B: C.Svarc 25 S.Webb 4
HB: R.Lugg 11 K.Lutkins 13 S.Campbell 20
C: N.Grider 10 B.Koenen 3 S.Conway 12
HF: L.Arnell 16 J.Wardlaw 30 G.Bodey 15
F: D.Davidson 14 E.Zielke – C 8
Foll: J.Keeffe 27 A.Anderson 18 E.Bates 1
I/C: I.Dawes 17 O.O’Dwyer 9 L.Postlethwaite 6 J.Wuetschner 23 M.Moloney 28 G.Collingwood 7 T.Hickie 24

In: J.Wuetschner, T.Hickie
Out: None

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY

B: P.Randall 21 T.Hetherington 9
HB: J.Dal Pos 7 E.Bennetts 22 A.Lister 14
C: Y.Bonner 27 A.Eva – C 2 N.Barr 8
HF: H.Zreika 24 C.Staunton 13 J.Hicks 5
F: I.Nielsen 25 R.Privitelli 19
Foll: J.Allan 39 A.Parker 3 R.Beeson 6
I/C: B.Tully 36 L.Steane 20 J.Barclay 34 L.Stephenson 12 A.Schmidt 11 T.Mackrill 32 S.Halvorsen 30

In: T.Mackrill, S.Halvorsen
Out: None

ROUND 4 TIPS: [Total tips in brackets]

Michael Alvaro [16]: Collingwood / Geelong / North Melbourne / Western Bulldogs / Carlton / Fremantle / Brisbane
Taylah Melki [17]: Collingwood/ Richmond / North Melbourne / Western Bulldogs / Adelaide / Fremantle / Brisbane
Sophie Taylor [16]: Melbourne / Richmond / North Melbourne / Western Bulldogs / Adelaide / Fremantle / Brisbane
Peter Williams [14]: Collingwood / Geelong / North Melbourne / Western Bulldogs / Adelaide / Fremantle / GIANTS

Top 5 questions after AFL Women’s Round 3

WITH three rounds of the AFL Women’s done and dusted we pose five questions surrounding yet another  round of action filled with narrow losses and blowout wins.

Are Fremantle the real deal?

The Dockers showed their class last round with a narrow three-point win against the Magpies, sitting undefeated at the top of Pool B. Fremantle has become well known for its attacking style of play always looking to hit the scoreboard and move the ball forward and while they were starved of opportunities in Round 3 they made the most of their chances with accuracy proving no issue. They have a plethora of key players across the field that have shown that they can lift their game when under pressure and while both Ebony and Kara Antonio did not win a truckload of possession it was what they did with the footy that made the difference. The mix between experience and youth is the key combination with Mim Strom and Roxy Roux making a seamless transition into the elite level while the likes of Kiara Bowers and Sabreena Duffy have continued to evolve making for a very strong and competitive side.

What do Richmond need to do to win their first game?

The Tigers are yet to claim a win in season 2020 but definitely have the star power to cause a couple of upsets with the likes of Monique Conti, Sabrina Frederick and captain Katie Brennan amongst the mix. They have shown that they know what it takes to match it with the best but have struggled to put up a consistent four quarter effort getting blown away as the game dragged on. The trio have experience and ooze class and composure with all three hoping to make an impact in their new colours but failing to really get going so far in 2020. Renowned for her ability to win the ball at the coalface and dispose of the footy cleanly Conti will have to up her intensity while Brennan and Frederick will need to hit the scoreboard more regularly. But to win their first game they will need assistance from the likes of Christina Bernardi, Lauren Tesoriero and Phoebe Monahan to help take the heavy load off them across the ground.

Can North Melbourne win the premiership?

After falling short of finals last year, the Kangaroos have come back with a real vengeance in 2020 with convincing wins in their past two outings. North has shown that it can pile on a hefty total, recording a whopping 76 points last round with 12 goals making up the end score. The Roos are a class outfit that can pick apart their opponents with their attacking momentum and variety of avenues to goal. Emma Kearney is a machine through the midfield and has shown that she can push forward and hit the scoreboard coming off a three goal and 12 disposal game while Kaitlyn Ashmore is a handy option inside forward with three majors. Jasmine Garner and Jenna Bruton have upped their ante in recent weeks adding to the already potent side.

Could Melbourne be a smoky to make the finals?

Despite dropping their Round 3 clash to the Saints the Dees should not be underestimated. They toppled premiership favourites North Melbourne in the opening round of the season and dismantled the Dogs by 20 points in Round 2 highlighting just how damaging they can be when they get going. Although inaccuracy plagued them in their recent outing, they have proven that they have a wealth of options inside forward 50 that can cause damage with Tegan Cunningham and Kate Hore strong in front of goal while through the midfield Elise O’Dea, Daisy Pearce and Karen Paxman provide good first use to their forwards.

Can Brisbane continue their hot form?

Although they played out a draw last week against state rivals Gold Coast, the Lions have taken the competition by storm downing both Geelong and reigning premiers Adelaide in the opening rounds. With two wins and a draw the Lions are sitting pretty on top of the table and will be hoping to hold onto that spot. Brisbane have allowed their young talent to lead the way with the likes of Isabel Dawes, Lily Postlethwaite and Jesse Wardlaw doing the hard yards. Sophie Conway has also been in hot form in recent weeks and will be hoping to keep that streak going and push her side to another grand final. The midfield brigade of Ally Anderson, Lauren Arnell and Emily Bates along with defender Kate Lutkins have also been in scintillating form.