SANFLW Round 9 preview: State Academy talent out as clubs look to final month
A LARGE quantity of State Academy members will be missing from Round 9 action of the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s competition. With four rounds remaining, just six sides can make finals, and one on the verge of being ruled out with a loss this weekend.
Saturday, April 9 @ 9am
ACH Group Stadium
One of three early starts for players and fans who might want to get across to see the AFL Women’s Grand Final, the reigning premiers come up against this year’s benchmark side. Glenelg fell to Sturt back in Round 2, which was their only loss coming into Round 7. Since then, the Bays have had two defeats on the bounce, Sturt on the other hand had also suffered two consecutive defeats, but bounced back last round in style as the troops retuned. Given both sides have a number of quality youths, they will be missing some serious talent out on the park.
Glenelg will be without young guns Sarah Goodwin, Piper Window and Ella Boag, as well as experienced players Caitlyn Swanson and Laura Chigwidden. On an extended bench, the likes of Samantha Franson, Jess Searle and Laura Chigwidden all return. For the Double Blues, Kiera Mueller and Lily Whitcombe come out of the defensive half, and India Rasheed and Tahlia Walker from the other end. Coming into the side are the likes of Nicole Baker, Larissa Schenscher and Olivia McEvoy.
The key battle will be in the midfield, with Ellie Kellock, Violet Patterson and Jessica Bates up against the likes of Ellie Lynch, Alisha Gepp and Kate Harris. Though the Double Blues are still without Isobel Kuiper, the half-back line of Hannah Prenzler, Alex Ballard and Lily Whitcombe is arguably the side’s strongest line, even if the visitors lose the midfield battle. Sturt is closer to its best side and will be favourites, though Glenelg is always strong at home.
Saturday, April 9 @ 9am
The next early start is a North against South clash when North Adelaide plays host to South Adelaide at Prospect Oval. The Roosters are in red hot form, and whilst they did have a scare against Woodville-West Torrens Eagles last week – and subsequently lost top spot due to percentage – have still piled on five consecutive wins since being 1-2. The Panthers have also found great form of late, and sit in fourth, but only marginally, and they will need to win this match to remain in the four if, as expected, Norwood wins against Eagles.
The Roosters will be without key Under 18s talents Hannah Ewings, Amelie Borg and Elaine Grigg, whilst co-captain Erin Sundstrom suffered that serious knee injury last week. Returning to the side is some experience in Jaimi Tabb and Brianna Arthur, as well as forward targets Jaime Norup and Letisha Ackland. For the Panthers, Tahlia Meyer heads back to the VFLW after her one-game stint, with Jemma Ellis representing South Australia, and Sarah Wright out with a shoulder injury. Forward Jess Kirk and defender Esther Schirmer are among the inclusions for the visitors
With competition leading goalkicker Shae Archbold and the dangerous Jess Waterhouse inside 50, the Panthers attack can be dangerous, whilst Tahlita Buethke recovered from what looked like a serious injury early in last week’s game to take her place on the wing, and Gypsy Schirmer is another player in great form. It is hard to fault the Roosters defence, even without Borg and Sundstrom, with Kristi Harvey, Lauren Gauci and Ella Metcalfe back there. North Adelaide should have the experience to get the job done here despite some key outs.
Saturday, April 9 @ 9am
Maughan Thiem Kia Oval
With a line put through the Woodville-West Torrens‘ finals hopes officially now, the young side will be keen to play the party pooper in the run home and try and spoil finals chances for some other sides. Up first is Norwood, with the home side gutted through a combination of State Academy and injuries. A host of their most important players are out of the clash, with Shineah Goody, Ella Little and Cher Waters (State Academy) joining captain Annie Falkenberg and defensive general Leah Kaslar on the sidelines. They do have a host of young players coming in as well, with Grace Martin, Chloe Whitington-Charity, Charlotte Dolan and Marlie Fiegert all amongst the ins.
Norwood has found some great form the last two weeks after two big losses, and is on the verge of cracking back inside the top four. With South having to play North, this game looms as a must-win heading into the final few rounds. Norwood do lose a trio of young midfielders in Lana Schwerdt, Sachi Syme and Molly Brooksby, whilst regaining Isabel Martin, Jazmine Egan and Natasha Allison. Though largely unaffected outside that midfield group, it means the likes of Jade Halfpenny, Sarah Branford and Sophie Armitstead will have to step up against a weakened Eagles midfield group as well.
The Eagles forward line can be potent with Jordann Hickey (though she has mostly played back the last couple of weeks), Abbey Dowrick and Amie Blanden, with Jessica Sedunary a crucial player in the forward half. The defensive setups of Alison Ferrall and Morgan Johnston have been impressive for the Redlegs of late, with Alana Lishmund and Grace Mulvahil having some red-hot form. Norwood should be too strong in this game, with a bit more depth across the ground.
Saturday, April 9 @ 4:50pm
X Convenience Oval
In an absolute must-win contest for Central District, the Bulldogs are back home against last placed West Adelaide. In a famous win that kick-started their season, the Doggies came from behind – after being comfortably in front – to run over the top of the Westies down at Hisense Stadium in Round 3. The hero that day was Georgia McKee who will not be able to repeat her heroics given she has State Under 18s duties alongside top-ager Dakota Williams. The in-form Caitlin Wendland is also out due to Health and Safety Protocols, which naturally rules out her sister Kasey Wendland as well, whilst Ella Mickan will also miss due to injury. The Bulldogs will welcome back Tess Gerhardy and Keely Cannizzaro among five ins to the side.
If the Bulldogs team selection is a little chaotic, then spare a thought for the West Adelaide team. Yet again the Westies have copped a high volume of outs, and not just due to State Academy duties. Whilst they do lose trio Keeley Kustermann, Charlie Scutchings and Lucy Boyd for that reason, the red-hot Zoe Venning is out due to Heath and Safety Protocols with Olivia Smith, whilst Paris Francis (concussion) is also a forced out. They do regain defender Madelyn Zacher and midfielderJess Macolino, with Kustermann’s sister Saraid a potential debutant.
There is still plenty of quality out on the park for both sides, with the West Adelaide defence of Zacher, Madi Russell, Beatrice Devlyn and Emma Kilpatrick forming a strong bond, though the Bloods have just struggled to score the last few weeks. Central has a strong midfield that includes captain Shelby Smith, as well as inside ball-winner Jovanka Zecevic and over-ager Lauren Breguet, whilst Laitiah Huynh and Charlotte Riggs are other rising stars in the side. Given the West Adelaide outs, Central District should take home the win and keep its finals hopes alive.