SANFLW Round 8 preview: AFLW talent returns for big weekend
SOME of the AFL Women’s talent has returned to the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s competition for a huge Round 8. With the season at a finals-defining point, many teams are desperate for a win, whilst others are hoping to continue their strong form into finals.
Saturday, April 2 @ 3:30pm
Two sides in very different predicaments this season face off in what is simply a must-win game for the home side, West Adelaide when the Bloods take on Sturt. Having not won since a thrilling victory over North Adelaide in Round 1, the last placed Westies must win to try and replicate their 2021 season revival despite the slim finals chances. Sturt on the other hand need a win to snap a two-game losing streak. Both sides have copped their fair share of injuries and Health and Safety Protocols over the past month, and it will be the case once again.
West Adelaide loses Jess Macolino (one game after her return) and Jessica Chyer to the latter, and Natasha McKay (knee) to the former, whilst the Double Blues have also lost key midfielder Isobel Kuiper to a knee injury. West Adelaide welcome back some young talent including Tamika May and Grace McNicol, whilst the Double Blues have their best five combined ins of the season, with defenders Hannah Prenzler and Alex Ballard, forwards Ally Ladas and Georgia Swan, and tall Amy Brooks-Birve all returning.
It should give them upper hand with their defence right back up to its incredible, reliable self, making life difficult for a West side that has struggled to score in recent weeks except for young gun Lucy Boyd. The West defence has been a shining light for the side, with Beatrice Devlyn, Madison Russell and Emma Kilpatrick all in great form, as are young ball-winners Zoe Venning and Keeley Kustermann. Sturt just looks to have too much consistency across the board, with Georgia Bevan, Kiera Mueller and Alisha Gepp just a few of those enjoying terrific years.
Saturday, April 2 @ 4:50pm
Flinders University Stadium
A real finals-defining clash in every sense of the term, the fourth placed South Adelaide hosts the sixth placed Central District. The last time these sides clashed in Round 1, it was fairly tight up until early in the third when Demi Sonneman slotted a major two and a half minutes in to cut the deficit to five points at X Convenience Oval. From that point on, the Panthers would go on to slam 7.5 to the Bulldogs’ 1.0, a game that the red, white and blue faithful are unlikely to have forgotten. Since that match, both sides have shown they can be good enough for finals, with the Bulldogs’ best perhaps a little better, but the Panthers more consistent across the board, leading to an extra win and a higher percentage. Whilst Central District heads in unchanged from the initial team last week, Saints’ AFLW-listed midfielder Tahlia Meyer returns to the Panthers, alongside young run Jemma Ellis, whilst Esther Schirmer and Layla Rogers are both forced outs.
The Bulldogs are looking for an incredibly three wins on the trot and will have to do it down south in the furthest trip for the northern-based side. Though the Bulldogs are technically unchanged with no confirmed outs, it is fair to say someone will make way for last omission Shelby Smith who was a forced change last week. She rejoins a strong midfield that features Jovanka Zecevic and Lauren Breguet who are in great form, with ruck Isabelle Starmer having another brilliant season, whilst speedsters Laitiah Huynh and Georgia McKee have created run, and Charlotte Riggs has become a marking machine.
South Adelaide will welcome the inclusion of Meyer, who with Nicole Campbell provides that extra touch of experience, whilst Gypsy Schirmer and Jaslynne Smith are reliable runners behind the ball. Though she had a rare quiet one last week, Shae Archbold as well as Jess Waterhouse (who both kicked three goals in Round 1) will need to be stopped if the visiting team is to get up. The Panthers have relied a fair bit on the pair in recent weeks, though they have been gradually sharing the goals around, and the likes of Tahlita Buethke and Lucy Northcott can be thrown forward if required.
Saturday, April 2 @ 6:20pm
ACH Group Stadium
If Central District fans could not forget the heavy loss to South Adelaide, then Norwood supporters will have the Round 1 73-point shellacking at the hands of reigning premiers Glenelg firmly burnt into their memories. The Redlegs were just outplayed, inspired by a ridiculous six-goal haul in the second half from Crows star Brooke Tonon who equalled the all-time record, and the Bays posted the highest score (13.9) of the season. Glenelg will be without Tonon this time around, as well as young ruck Matilda Scholz (Heath and Safety Protocols) and Jess Searle (concussion). They regain a heap of talent who missed through Health and Safety Protocols last week, with Violet Patterson, Piper Window, Laura Chigwidden and Alice Bradley among those returning. The Redlegs have an even bigger name in – both literally and figuratively – with St Kilda AFLW-listed ruck Leah Cutting making her return to the SANFL Women’s, alongside inclusions Morgan Johnston and Nicola Burns.
Glenelg suffered a disappointing loss to North Adelaide last round, but it was somewhat understandable given the outs, and the Bays will be quick to want to bounce back this week. They still sit second on the table, but with Sturt and North Adelaide both playing bottom two sides, it could be really dangerous if they do lose. The Redlegs on the other hand will nee to win to try and leap back into the top four, but regardless due to South and Central District playing off, either side winning would not be good for the fifth placed Redlegs. They will be relieved to have Cutting back in, and with Sachi Syme, Jade Halfpenny and Lana Schwerdt all in great form, and both Alana Lishmund and Grace Mulvahil slotting three goals apiece last week, the team recovered from back-to-back defeats.
Glenelg will be relieve with the return of the youth and experience around the ground, with Patterson and Window to provide some extra depth to the midfield of Ellie Kellock and Jessica Bates. Chelsea Packer (three goals in Round 1) got off to a blistering start last time the side’s played, so Norwood will be keen not to allow that to happen again, whilst Caitlyn Swanson can also be a dangerous forward target. The game is set up to be a real classic, and certainly closer than their opening night encounter.
Saturday, April 2 @ 7:20pm
Maughan Thiem Kia Oval
Unlike the other sides in the more recently previewed games, these two sides faced off in Round 5, with North Adelaide slamming home seven goals to the Woodville-West Torrens‘ zero in the second half to run away with the contest, 11.5 (71) to 3.2 (20). The match was symbolic of the Eagles season, who for large portions of matches have been able to stick with opponents, but fadeouts have been costly. Still a very young team – despite AFLW experience sprinkled around the field, it will be a tough asked for the seventh placed Eagles to topple the ladder-leading Roosters. The Eagles will bring back Renee Forth, Jemma Whitington-Charity and Ella Little for the this contest, with the Roosters able to recall Lauren Gauci who has returned from her West Coast AFLW duties., She joins Tayla Gordon and Ella Quinn among the inclusions, but the Roosters have lost a quartet of players, highlighted by important ball-winners Brianna Arthur and Kate Case.
Woodville-West Torrens have bolstered its experience as the season has gone on, with Abbey Dowrick proving a valuable addition to the side, and along with Jessica Sedunary, Jordann Hickey and Leah Kaslar provide great leadership in each of the thirds. The Eagles do have a lot of great young talent, headlined by Shineah Goody, with the bottom-age AFLW Academy member alongside a host of State Academy members including Cher Waters and Whitington-Charity in that midfield.
North Adelaide has so much depth across the board, and so many potential goalscorers that the Roosters do not have to rely on an individual to get them over the line. The forward line of Hannah Ewings, Jade De Melo, Doreena Hansen and Cristie Castle has so many strong elements to it, whilst Jessica Edwards and Katelyn Pope in the midfield, and Kristi Harvey anchoring the defence, the high-level experience across the board is why the Roosters should realistically be premiership favourites, and maintain top spot with a win in this match.