Saints and Tigers to kick off new season

TODAY is the day. The first round of the 2021 AFLW competition kicks off tonight, and after many trials, tribulations, fixture changes and delays we have finally reached the day where it all kicks off.

There are some cracking matches in store

With all that in mind, let us take a look at all the action scheduled to take place this weekend.

  • Team
  • St Kilda
  • Richmond

Friday at 7:15pm AEDT
Skybus Stadium, Frankston

Not the season opener many were expecting, but it is the season opener that promises to be a tight one. The battle of the two newest Victorian sides takes place at a new temporary home for the Saints.

Last time these two sides met was back in 2020. That day it was the Saints who blew Richmond away and earned a comfortable 39-point win. The most interesting battle will be in the midfield and in Richmond’s forward line.

The midfield battle will be a fascinating one, as St Kilda will be missing young stars Tyanna Smith and Georgia Patrikios, while Richmond will be missing one of their own young stars in Ellie McKenzie. The Tigers do have Monique Conti though, who is coming into this season off her first full AFLW preseason of her career, after she stopped playing in the WNBL this summer.

  • Team
  • North Melbourne
  • Geelong

Saturday at 5:10pm AEDT
Arden St Oval

North will come into this game with a lot of confidence. They are coming off an impressive practice match win, and history is also on their side as they have comfortably beaten the Cats in both previous meetings.

Geelong on the other hand have a lot of challenges to overcome if they want to get the win. Firstly, they will have to overcome the ruck deficit.

Without Aasta O’Connor, it will be up to the likes of Olivia Fuller and Rene Caris to beat a superstar of the competition in Emma King. That is certainly no easy task. Then, they need to work out how to stop North’s versatile attack options.

The Roos have Jasmine Garner and sometimes King in that forward line. In addition, the likes of Kaitlyn Ashmore and Ash Riddell run in from the midfield and creating scoring opportunities. The Cats young guns in Nina Morrison and Georgie Prespakis will be among the ones to watch try and drive Geelong up the ladder in 2022.

  • Team
  • Western Bulldogs
  • Melbourne

Saturday at 7pm AEDT
Whitten Oval

The original rivalry returns for another chapter on Saturday night down at Whitten Oval.

Last time they met it was the Bulldogs who got the win. However, it is the Dees who win the head-to-head ledger three wins to two.

The Bulldogs come into this match as a young side who have had a few injuries hit the squad, and may find it challenging against one of the premiership contenders. They do have Bonnie Toogood and Kirsten McLeod though, who are very dangerous forwards and always hard to match up on.

The Dees on the other hand come into the match as one of the title contenders, with a deep squad and a lot of versatility in their midfield and forward line that is going to cause the Bulldogs some headaches. The likes of Tyla Hanks and Karen Paxman are among the best midfielders in the competition.

  • Team
  • Fremantle
  • West Coast

Saturday at 5:50pm WST
Fremantle Oval

Fans were expecting this fixture much later in the season, but after border issues wreaked havoc it is happening in Round 1.

These sides last met in a practice match only a matter of weeks ago, and it was the Eagles who got the win. In all their matches for points though it is Fremantle who has been victorious.

Fremantle come into this match and this season looking to vastly improve on its 2021 season and get back to its 2020 form. In order to do that though they will have to turn around their slow starts. They were notoriously slow starters in 2021 and after the practice match, it is looking like slow starts will once again be a thorn in their side heading into 2022.

Kiara Bowers is set to cause more havoc on the competition in 2022, and Ebony and Kara Antonio are consistently putting out big performances. Then there is the exciting Roxanne Roux inside 50.

West Coast on the other hand is just looking to improve on 2021 and have a largely injury free 2022 season. They will take some confidence from that practice match win, and they also get back the likes of Dana Hooker, who will certainly make a difference in that Eagles lineup. Look out for the crafty Charlotte Thomas, whilst Evie Gooch runs out for the first time against her former side.

  • Team
  • Adelaide
  • Brisbane

Sunday at 1:40pm ACDT
Flinders University Stadium

Another match up fans were not expecting to see until later in the season, but it has come early. It is the Grand Final rematch from last year as Brisbane were able to overpower the Crows and claim their first flag.

The Lions came into this clash a much younger side, after a number of their experienced stars retired after the Grand Final. They do come into the clash after a dominant display against the Suns in the practice match, but Adelaide are another step up in class.

There are no shortage of stars on either side, with Brisbane boasting a star-studded and reliable backline led by Breanna Koenen and Kate Lutkins, with. the damaging Courtney Hodder up the other end. Then there is the likes of Emily Bates and Ally Anderson in the middle.

The Crows on the other hand, will be bolstered by the return of Chelsea Randall into the starting side after she missed the Grand Final due to concussion. They will be even hungrier heading into 2022, spurred on by their Grand Final loss. Erin Phillips, Ebony Marinoff and Anne Hatchard is a trio that few teams can contain, so it will be interesting to see just how the match plays out.

  • Team
  • Carlton
  • Collingwood

Sunday at 4:10pm AEDT
Ikon Park

One of the oldest rivalries in professional football returns for another chapter on Sunday afternoon. Last time these two sides met, it was the Magpies who got the win to the tune of a solitary goal.

Carlton come into the clash with a lot of its most experienced players from their 2021 team. The likes of Jess Hosking, Tayla Harris and others have all left, so it is going to be up to Carlton’s draftees to step up and fill the hole. Jessica Dal Pos does come in from GWS, which will help fill the gap a lot. Then there’s the young talent in Annie Lee and Keeley Sherar, as well as reigning leading goalkicker Darcy Vescio.

Collingwood on the other hand is one of the premiership contenders for 2022. The Magpies have a well rounded squad, and their forward line is a daunting prospect for any opposition side. With the likes of Sabrina Frederick and Imogen Barnett in there, as well as Chloe Molloy and others, it is going to be hard for Carlton to keep them all quiet.

  • Team
  • Gold Coast

Sunday at 5:10pm AEST
Great Barrier Reef Arena, Mackay

The final round of the match sees Gold Coast host GWS in sunny North Queensland. Matches in the past between these two sides have generally been low scoring but also played in very tough weather conditions.

GWS come into this season desperately looking to push back into the finals race, and recruits Chloe Dalton, Katie Loynes and Jasmine Grierson will certainly help the GIANTS do that.

For Gold Coast on the other hand, the only way is up after a winless 2021. Their goal will be to improve on 2021, and maybe even get back to the 2020 form which saw them make finals in their inaugural season. New additions Charlie Rowbottom, Alana Barba and Tara Bohanna will certainly help in that mission.

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