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Weekend preview: SANFL Women’s – Round 10

AFTER an entertaining nine rounds, everything comes down to the final week with five teams attempting to squeeze into four in what is set to be an entertaining Round 10 of football in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s competition. The only guarantee is Norwood has locked up the minor premiership, with a double-chance on offer for North Adelaide with a win, and a loss to South Adelaide, who will have stiff opposition in West Adelaide with Bloods having to win to book a finals place. Their poor percentage means a loss will certainly see them drop out of the four assuming Glenelg can topple the winless Woodville-West Torrens. For the Eagles, Sturt and Central District, they cannot make finals, but they can certainly shape the top four if they throw spanners in the works with upsets.

STURT vs. NORTH ADELAIDE
Saturday May 4, 10.45am
Peter Motley Oval

In the first game on Saturday, the only guarantee is that North Adelaide will play finals, and Sturt will not. With a massive percentage of 184, the Roosters have been the dominant scoring team since being 1-3 after four rounds. They have strung together five straight wins, albeit against lower sides, and this is no different with a match against the bottom three side Sturt. With all bottom three sides facing finals hopefuls, it will be a tough ask for them to get up and cause an upset, meaning Sturt will likely finish six ahead of the two newcomers. A win would be a just reward for the Double Blues’ efforts this season, but there is much more on the line for North Adelaide. If the Roosters win, and West Adelaide cause an upset against the Panthers, and North Adelaide slides into second spot, and the double chance. The Roosters percentage is better than South Adelaide, but are a game behind and therefore must win to take the spot. If Glenelg does make it into the finals series, it will mean the Roosters are surrounded by the only three teams they have lost to, but they were incredibly close contests. The last time North Adelaide and Sturt faced off was in Round 2, with the Roosters getting the win in a seven-point contest. It was North Adelaide’s only victory in the first four rounds, while Sturt had to wait until Round 5 for its first triumph. In the Round 2 clash, Roosters’ captain Nadia Von Bertouch lead from the front with 20 disposals, four marks, four clearances and six inside 50s, while Kelly Barltrop announced herself as a genuine leading goalkicker this season with five straight snags from six kicks. For Sturt, Georgia Bevan was her characteristic dominant self, picking up 24 touches as well as eight clearances, three inside 50s and two rebounds. Looking ahead to this weekend, both sides have been forced to make a couple of changes with Ashleigh Woodland injured and Julia Clark unavailable for North, while for Sturt, Jess Schulz and Casey Fraser will miss the Double Blues’ final game of the season. Into the underdogs side comes forwards, Zoe Prowse and Holly Temby, while Paige Allan is a massive inclusion for the Roosters for an already brimming midfield. The midfield battle will be the highlight of the game, with Bevan, Maya Rigter and Caitlyn Swanson going head-to-head with the likes of Allan, Brittany Perry and Kat Reynolds. The Roosters’ forward line is dynamic and hard to stop, with Barltrop leading the way, although Cristie Castle and Leah Tynan have both been able to find avenues to go, and the likes of Paxton Davis-Mattner and Hannah Prenzler will be keen to restrict those players. Up the other end of the ground, Georgia Swan, Nicole Baker and Alex Ballard can cause their own headaches for the Roosters’ defence. but Amber Ward has been as consistent as they come this season, so look to her for plenty of rebound, whereas the Double Blues will be keen to shut her down in this match. North Adelaide have to be overwhelming favourites in this game. The Roosters could take second with a win, but could also drop to fourth with a loss, so everything is on the line, and as far and away the highest scoring team, they should have too much firepower for the Double Blues.

CENTRAL DISTRICT vs. NORWOOD
Saturday May 4, 12.20pm
Alberton Oval

The second game of the round pits minor premiers Norwood up against Central District at Alberton Oval at a touch just after midday. It is the only game of the round that does not have a bearing on the finals race, with Norwood having locked up top spot a couple of weeks ago, and could even afford to lose to second placed South Adelaide in Round 9. If there is anything we have come to know about champion teams that have a rare loss, it is that they are fully determined to atone for that loss the next week, which could spell trouble for the Bulldogs. Central District could jump ahead of Sturt with a victory, but cannot fall lower than seventh on the table, safe in the knowledge that fellow newcomer to the competition, Woodville-West Torrens has taken out the wooden spoon for season 2019. These two teams do not have to look far to find the last time they faced off, with the Round 7 match going comfortably the way of the Redlegs. After keeping touch with them in the ladder leaders in the first half, Central District eventually relented as Norwood piled on six consecutive goals before the Bulldogs booted their second major, resulting in a 38-point win to the favourites. Najwa Allen suffered a bout of leather poisoning on the day, racking up 30 touches as well as nine marks, two clearances, three inside 50s, two rebounds and 2.2 in a best afield performance. Hannah Dunn and Monique Hollick both had 22 touches and combined for 13 marks and eight inside 50s, while Central’s Jayme-Lee Sonneman did all she could in the ruck with 17 hitouts and eight clearances to go with 13 disposals. Gemma Doughty (13 disposals, four rebounds) and Shannen Solly (12 disposals, three rebounds) also stood up in defence for the losing side. Heading into this match, Central has made at least four changes, with Laitiah Huynh – the Bulldogs’ highest disposal winner in these sides’ last match – back into the team, while Norwood has lost Alison Ferrall to injury, with Jane Fitzgerald coming into a forward pocket. The game may lack the finals-defining quality of the other games over the weekend, but the Redlegs will still have plenty to focus on, finishing the season on a high and heading into a clash with either South Adelaide – who the Redlegs lost to in Round 9 – or the red-hot scoring machine that is North Adelaide. Either way Norwood will have a tough task and will be keen to take care of business in this game. It is spoken about each week in this preview, but the ridiculous depth in the Redlegs midfield is sensational with Allen, Hollick and Dunn, as well as former Adelaide midfielder, Sally Riley, as well as Hannah Priest, Tahlia Meyer and Sophie Armitstead rolling through there. Matilda Zander and Rhiannon Busch have had some terrific games, while Jo Hill and Bella Smith make up a strong key defensive combination, and Leah Cutting is a dominant ruck. Along with the other top three sides, Norwood has all the hallmarks of a premiership side. Central have the beginnings of a great side, but are not quite there. Katelyn Rosenzweig is a developing key forward, the Sonneman sisters (Jayme-Lee and Demi) are always key players in the side, while Kimberley Fry, Chantel Reynolds and Danielle Stewart have all had their moments throughout 2019. It is almost impossible to look past Norwood in this clash. Everyone is hoping the Bulldogs can finish off their season with a strong performance, although with Norwood casting an eye ahead to the next few weeks in what will be a big finals series, the Redlegs must play with finals intensity so expect them to come away with a comfortable win.

SOUTH ADELAIDE vs. WEST ADELAIDE
Saturday May 4, 4.15pm
Flinders University Stadium

The most finals-defining game of the round is that between South Adelaide and West Adelaide, for the simple reason that both teams have so much to gain, and to lose by the result. If South Adelaide triumphs, the Panthers secure second spot and a double chance to try and topple Norwood for the second time in three weeks when they face off in the semi-final next weekend. That result would likely see West Adelaide tumble out of the four with Glenelg taking on the winless Woodville-West Torrens. Despite being a win ahead of the Tigers, the Westies have the worst percentage of any finals hopeful, and it is now coming back to bite them. If however, the Bloods can get up in the game, they will secure a finals birth, and, if North Adelaide somehow drops its game wot Sturt, can even take third on the table. In that scenario, South Adelaide would still retain second, but in the much more likely scenario, the Roosters would have their way with the Double Blues, snatching second spot at the expense of the Panthers in the process. So all in all, this game has everything on the line which makes for a fascinating contest. The last time these teams met was back on March 1 in Round 3 when the Panthers got the job done in a 16-point win. Czenya Cavouras was easily best on ground in the win, amassing 29 disposals, and having a whopping nine clearances, five inside 50s and laying 10 tackles. Teah Charlton showed promise as she has all season, racking up 19 disposals and booting a goal alongside Adelaide midfielder, Nikki Gore. Montana McKinnon was superb in the ruck with 23 hitouts, four clearances and five of her seven marks contested. For West Adelaide, Abbie Ballard had a team-high 18 touches, as well as four clearances, three inside 50s and six tackles, while sharp shooter, Chelsea Biddell snagged two majors from 13 disposals and five marks (two contested). Looking ahead to this weekend, on paper, South Adelaide has the stronger side, the depth across the ground is terrific and the midfield up there with Norwood in terms of both ability and depth. They don’t have a dominant forward like some teams, relying on contributions from not only forwards, but midfielders as well. West Adelaide have Biddell who has shown herself to be capable of kicking a bag on her day when she is on fire, but she will not be there to help them in this clash. The Bloods have made at least three changes to their side, with full-back Kelly Whittaker and forward Ashlea Brown among the inclusions to the side with Leah Swain among those out of the team. For the Panthers, they will miss the impact of Lauren Buchanan who did her knee, but will welcome back Emogen Johnson and Brooklyn Kraft to the forward line, and Samantha Pratt into defence. While Ballard and ball magnet Rachelle Martin can be huge influences for their team, the likes of Cavouras, Hannah Munyard, Elyse Haussen and Nicole Campbell form a dominant midfield brigade, and one of the few that can go toe-for-toe with Norwood’s star-studded line-up. For the likes of Charlton, Munyard and McKinnon, they will have the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships coming up over the next couple of months and will be keen to continue their great form, while from a team perspective, will be excited to tackle the imminent finals series. The Bloods know a loss will more than likely mean the end of their season after sitting in the top four for the entire season, which would leave a bitter taste in their mouths. Melanie Elsegood and Emma Smith will be the ones needing to pile scores on the board for the Bloods, while Maddie Newman and Lauren Rodato will hope to provide good rebound out of defence. Helen Maidment and Rebecca Owen can add to the movement in transition on the outside, but face a stiff opposition this weekend. South Adelaide are the team to beat at the moment having slayed the top side last round, but West Adelaide must be respected as they have done enough thus far to put themselves in a position to contend for finals.

GLENELG vs. WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS
Saturday May 4, 5.15pm
ACH Group Stadium

The final game of the round is another match with huge consequences for one side, as Glenelg battles to snatch fourth spot. The Tigers need to win against the winless Eagles, who are unable to move off the bottom of the table, but could end their season on a high with their inaugural victory. The biggest problem the Eagles will have in achieving this feat comes in Adelaide Crows star, Ebony Marinoff who simply dominated last week, picking up the most disposals of any player this season, in her debut. She is a class above and will be one that has to be watched and restricted if the Eagles are to be any chance in this match. These two teams first met in Round 1 with Glenelg coming off a wooden spoon but victory in Round 1, and Woodville-West Torrens playing its first match in the competition. Despite hitting the front late in the first quarter courtesy of a Kiana Lee goal, the Eagles were no match for the Tigers as Glenelg piled on six of the last seven goals of the match to record a comfortable 35-point victory. The versatile Lucy Bellinger had 23 disposals, 10 marks (two contested), four inside 50s, five tackles and two goals, while Ellen Fauser and Samantha Franson both booted a goal from 15 disposals. For the Eagles, Jaimi Tabb had a strong performance through the midfield with 17 disposals, five clearances and five inside 50s, while Georgia Taylor played her best game of the season, rebounding the ball nine times while clocking up 17 disposals in the loss. Looking to the final game of the season on Saturday, Hannah Crump and Tamsyn Morriss have been brought in as some extra firepower for the Tigers, with no confirmed outs as of yet. For the Eagles, Rachel Dunstan returns to the side on an extended bench, with Courtney Plowman and Eboni Tiller also named there, while Jo Baltais has slotted into the ruck to allow Taylor McKay to play forward and provide some much needed height inside 50. When looking at the sides on paper, it is hard to look past the influence Marinoff will have, and the importance for the Eagles to send a player to watch her all game. It will not be easy, but if the likes of Natalie Subelli and Natasha Farrier can continue their good form, then it opens up possibilities for the underdogs. Lee is a future star and will find the ball wherever it foes inside 50, while Taylor has been playing forward of late and could be an X-factor in there, as could Tabb who will provide fresh legs off the bench and run all day while finding the pill. Tesharna Maher and Stephanie Walker are the defenders Woodville-West Torrens needs to provide the movement out of the back half, while still minding the likes of Bellinger and Lucy Armitage who can be dangerous forwards. Tess Morcom and Franson are consistent key defenders, while Gould can rotate through the ruck or defence, and Madisyn Freeman has the run to help the Tigers out of trouble. Glenelg would be the overwhelming favourites in this game given their position, the Eagles’ position and the finals predicament that the home side faces, not to mention the star quality they have with Marinoff in the team. The Eagles need to play at their best to secure their first win, but with so much on the line for Glenelg, it is hard to see them slipping up in this contest.

Weekend preview: SANFL Women’s – Round 8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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