SANFLW Round 1 preview: New season begins

ANOTHER year of South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s football action is about to begin, with a massive four fixtures in Round 1. Four of the genuine title contenders face off, with four of the youngest sides doing battle in the other two games, with three brand new coaches and one returning coach for the 2022 season.

  • Team
  • Norwood
  • Glenelg

Friday, February 4 @ 8:00pm
Coopers Stadium

A blockbuster clash between two of last year’s heavyweights opens the season in a massive Friday night encounter. Reigning premiers Glenelg travels to Coopers Stadium to take on the 2021 minor premiers Norwood, with the Redlegs keen to atone for last season and grab a big scalp on opening night. These two sides have played seven ties in the regular season, with Norwood winning six of them. Funnily enough, before Glenelg’s triumph in the semi-final last year to book a grand final spot, the Bays had not beaten Norwood since Round 3, 2017, Norwood’s first ever SANFL Women’s loss.

Though the Bays will be without Caitlin Gould and Ebony Marinoff in this clash, they will still have a formidable midfield in captain Ellie Kellock, inside ball winner Tessa Kohn and top-age talent Sarah Goodwin. Keep an eye out for young gun Piper Window coming off a brilliant debut season last year, entering her bottom-age year as an eye-catching talent. Teenage sisters Poppy Scholz and Matilda Scholz have also been named in the side, whilst Pies fans might keep tabs on long-term future father-daughter prospect Violet Patterson. Adelaide Crows talent and first-year draftee Brooke Tonon has also been named in Glenelg’s side.

Norwood will have an altered midfield itself since that semi-final, with the on-ball brigade featuring teenagers Sarah Branford, Sachi Syme and Lana Schwerdt alongside Ashlee Gould and Erika Sporn. The Redlegs do not quite look the same without stalwart Leah Cutting who is plying her trade at St Kilda, and Jiarna Zerella has been named first ruck, with Rosie Boon a high-potential tall. Norwood also welcomes Grace Mulvahil into its defence alongside fellow NT local Morgan Johnston, whilst versatile forward Jade Halfpenny resumes her campaign up forward but is more than capable of playing anywhere.

Glenelg will head in as favourites for this clash coming off a flag, but Norwood coaches are confident the Redlegs will not drop off the pace this year, and there has been no better minor rounds side than last year’s minor premiers.


  • Team
  • West Adelaide
  • North Adelaide

Saturday, February 5 @ 12:45pm
Hisense Stadium

Potentially the match of the round, two genuine title contenders lock horns in the first game of a double-header at Hisense Stadium. Mark Moody lead West Adelaide to its maiden finals series and subsequent grand final campaign last season off the back of five consecutive wins. The Bloods knocked off North Adelaide in the penultimate round to hold onto fourth in the final week of the season, with the previous reigning premiers having to watch the finals series from afar.

West Adelaide has rolled in the changes with some big names entering the team. Unfortunately the Bloods lost superstar teenager Lauren Young to an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury over the break, but there is plenty more youth in the team. From a top-age perspective, Keeley Kustermann is a standout, and the young gun could well face off against the other AFLW Academy member Hannah Ewings. Ewings suffered a season-ending ankle injury early last season, but has returned from Round 1 in a return coach Krissie Steen labelled as “massive” for the club. Another West Adelaide name to keep an eye on is Lucy Boyd, with the 15-year-old considered at a similar level to Young the year before by coach Moody, and she is someone who could have an immediate impact, named at half-forward.

The bloods will also welcome in former Norwood mid-forward Jess Macolino, and brought in AFLW experience in Beatrice Devlyn. Kate Walsh will lead the ruck division once again with teenage inside midfielder Zoe Venning joining Devlyn and Macolino on-ball. North Adelaide will have arguably the most dynamic and exciting forwardline in the competition, with Ewings named alongside ex-Docker Jade De Melo who Steen deemed “on another level”, whilst exciting NT talent Doreena Hansen, ex-Eagle Katelyn Pope round out the front five. Ex-Carlton talent Jessica Edwards also returns to the SANFL and has been named in defence with teenagers, Amelie Borg and Jamie Parish. West Adelaide bookend, Madison Russell and Melanie Elsegood have big jobs ahead.

This is a game not to be missed. West’s midfield looks to be stronger, but North has an unbelievable forward line and defence, which makes this a loaded contest.


  • Team
  • Central District
  • South Adelaide

Saturday, February 5 @ 12:50pm
X Convenience Oval

Over at Elizabeth Oval, one team on the rise will host another accepting that 2022 will be a “traditional rebuild” and finding out which one will come out on top. Central District looked ultra-impressive in 2021 and were unlucky to only finish sixth on the SANFL Women’s table. South Adelaide made finals, but after the bulk of the Panthers’ experienced core wlll be unavailable in 2022, the team will be overhauled with plenty of youth. Up to seven Panthers will make their debut in the game, symbolising just how many fresh faces there will be.

South Adelaide’s midfield still looks strong, lead by captain Brianna Wedding in the ruck. Young guns Tahlita Buethke and Gypsy Schirmer, and 23-year-old debutant Nari Wright round out a strong onball brigade. Nicole Campbell AFLW experience will come in handy particularly this season, with a host of young guns filtered throughout the team. Shae Archbold is one name coach Rick Watts has highlighted, with Brooke Boileau and Schirmer’s sister Esther among the others who have plenty of potential. Defender Jaslynne Smith is still only 21-years-old and one to keep an eye on as a mature-age recruit, with ex-Eagle Nicole Collie named at full-back.

Central District will want to get off to a perfect start in 2022 under new coach Ben Hunt. The biggest question mark for the Bulldogs will be how they can overcome the loss of Katelyn Rosenzweig (ACL injury), and will also be without competition leading goalkicker Chantel Reynolds for the opening match of the season. Instead, the forward line is filled with a number of young talents. South Australian Under 19s representatives Lauren Breguet and Madison Lane have been named inside 50 – the latter moving back to the role after a stint in defence – as well as 15-year-old Georgia McKee who will make her debut. She is among five potential debutants in the side. Central’s midfield of ruck Isabelle Starmer, captain Shelby Smith, consistent talent Caitlen Teague and forward-turned-midfielder Laitiah Huynh make it a versatile group.

The midfield should decide this game with both fairly strong. The sides both contain plenty of youth, but Central started the season strong last year, and will be favoured to do so again here at home.


  • Team
  • Woodville-West Torrens
  • Sturt

Saturday, February 5 @ 2:55pm
Hisense Stadium

Two new senior coaches will go head-to-head in the second game of the double-header at Hisense Stadium when the bottom two sides from last year’s SANFL Women’s open their account tomorrow afternoon. Woodville-West Torrens will have the experienced Narelle Smith at the helm, taking over from Tess Baxter, whilst Michael O’Connor will lead Sturt for the first time since taking over from Bruce Dawes. Both sides have some seriously talented youth and plenty of upside, and would be tipped to move up the ladder in 2022.

Almost half of the Eagles side could be fresh faces in a mix of experience and youth. The starting side is bookended by AFLW experienced players in Leah Kaslar and Jordann Hickey, with McKenzie Dowrick and Renee Forth also up the forward and defensive ends. Swan Districts forward Brianna Hyde has also joined the club and will be one to watch as she chases her AFLW journey to join her sister Mikayla at the top level. Outside of the obvious experience – that also includes current Crows-listed player Jasmine Simmons – there are also plenty of young guns to watch. Shineah Goody is one of the top AFLW Draft prospects for 2023, and she is alongside Under 16s talent Jemma Whitington-Charity in the midfield, with Marlie Fiegert another name to remember. The Eagles will miss captain Annie Falkenberg, but have 2020 best and fairest winner Jovanka Zecevic.

Sturt has always backed in its youth and 2022 will be no different with a number of fresh faces adding onto a team that features almost 75 per cent of its list born in the 21st century. Adelaide Crows listed ruck Zoe Prowse has been named in the side along with the more guaranteed ruck of Amy Brooks-Birve also in the side. Captain Maya Rigter, Kiera Mueller and Alex Ballard have all been named in the regular rock-solid defence alongside Prowse. Old Ignatians recruit Ellie Lynch, and 2021 best and fairest winner Isobel Kuiper form a strong midfield core, while India Rasheed is a 2006-born talent to remember, and Hahndorf’s Tahlia Walker a State Academy member in line to make her debut. The Double Blues have also been able to bring in Crows-listed Jasmyn Hewett for the season as well.

Another blockbuster game, Sturt has more stability in its lineup, but the Eagles have loaded up on AFLW experience to complement its young guns, so could be favoured in this contest.


Inline Feedbacks
View all comments