SANFLW Round 11 preview: Finals spots on the line
A MASSIVE penultimate round of action sees finals spots on the line in each of the four South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s match in Round 11. Norwood can lock up a top four spot if the Redlegs beat Sturt and the Panthers lose to Glenelg, whilst North Adelaide, the Bays and Double Blues are all jostling for the double chance. Central District’s season is on life support in terms of finals, but is still a mathematical chance of finals after a clash with the Eagles.
Saturday, April 30 @ 12:50pm
Norwood can lock up a finals spot with an upset win against Sturt, whilst the Double Blues will be keen to keep their top two hopes alive given the two sides either side of them take on bottom four teams. Norwood does pose a problem, and though consistency has not always been there for the Redlegs – a couple of beltings at The Parade and an away loss to the Eagles attest to that – their best has been enough to get them into fourth spot. If they win and South Adelaide lose, it guarantees them fourth spot and yet another finals series. For Sturt, they lose and the results will be out of their hands for the final round if both North Adelaide and Glenelg win.
Sturt will be relieved to welcome back the troops with defence regaining Kiera Mueller and Lily Whitcombe, with Crows-listed tall Zoe Prowse, Under 16s forward India Rasheed and in-form midfielder Ellie Lynch all returning. The Reglegs regain their trio of State Academy midfielders in Sachi Syme, Lana Schwerdt and Molly Brooksby, whilst the Reglegs will also be celebrating Sophie Armitstead‘s 50th game. Given Leah Cutting‘s form in the ruck, it will be fascinating if the Double Blues utilise Prowse to assist Alex Pearce in the role. Meanwhile the likes of Tesharna Maher and Alana Lishmund have been very good of late, and will be ones to stop for Norwood.
Sturt will likely be a touch too strong at home and with the defence back intact, but Norwood has plenty on the line too and might cause an upset.
Saturday, April 30 @ 3:15pm
Maughan Thiem Kia Oval
The other Saturday afternoon game takes place at the home of the Woodville-West Torrens Eagles, as they lock horns with a hungry Central District outfit. The Bulldogs took it right up to the ladder-leading Roosters last week, but ultimately fell short again in a one-point nail-biter. Though not “mathematically” out of the finals, they would need South Adelaide to defeat Norwood in Round 12, with the sides to lose both their Round 11 matches, whilst Central also made up the large percentage difference between itself and the Panthers. So as unlikely as that is, there technically is a glimmer of hope, but to be a chance they have to win, and win big against the Eagles. Woodville-West Torrens have pride on the line and can put a permanent marker line through Central’s finals hopes with victory.
The Eagles will be thrilled to welcome back Shineah Goody fresh off a Most Valuable Player (MVP) campaign for South Australia, and realistically a huge chance for the overall tournament MVP. She returns with Ella Little, whilst the home side has two potential debutants on an extended bench in Georgie Blades and Brittany Spooner. Unfortunately the Eagles have also lost some experience with Jessica Sedunary (suspension) and Leah Kaslar (personal) missing the Round 11 game. Central on the other hand have just brought in the two State Academy players in Georgia McKee and Dakota Williams to an extended bench, with Laitiah Huynh also named back in the side after missing last week. McKee will be keen to do a lot of damage up forward, whilst the midfield of Shelby Smith, Lauren Breguet and ex-Eagle Jovanka Zecevic will tackle the likes of Goody, Jemma Whitington-Charity and Sophie Zuill.
Central District should do enough to win, but Woodville-West Torrens is very strong at home.
Saturday, April 30 @ 8:10pm
A top against bottom clash takes place at Hisense Stadium on Saturday night when West meets North. Two months ago few would have predicted the circumstances to be so, given the Bloods held on to topple the Roosters in dramatic fashion in a Round 1 classic. Since that day though, North has won eight out of nine – only dropping that goalless nail-biter to Sturt in Round 3 – whilst West Adelaide has dropped nine on the trot. That losing streak has largely been due to constant COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocols, injuries and unavailabilities due to the AFLW Under 18 Championships. Though all teams have copped similar issues throughout the year, West has particularly been dealt a harsh blow, especially when they lost league best and fairest Lauren Young before a ball was bounced. Though the season has had a line through it for some time, Mark Moody’s chargers can still impact the finals, with a win over North here making it a tantalising final round of action. The Roosters need a victory to just solidify – though not guarantee – top spot with them having a higher percentage than both Sturt and Glenelg.
West Adelaide regains the talents of Keeley Kustermann and Charlie Scutchings from the national championships, and it marks the first time the two Kustermann’s will lineup alongside each other at League level, with Saraid Kustermann also named as an in for the Bloods. Another crucial inclusion is experienced ruck Kate Walsh after Leah Cutting took the inexperienced Bloods ruck department to town last round. It would not be another week in the SANFL Women’s for West without some key players out, and few have had more consistent seasons than defender Madelyn Zacher (shoulder), whilst Olivia Smith (knee) is also out. For the Roosters, they have lost Cristie Castle to a knee injury but they have recalled Hannah Ewings, Elaine Grigg and Amelie Borg after their State duties, and have also been able to bring back the class of Jade De Melo and extra size in Jaime Norup. The midfield battle between Ewings, Julia Clark and Jessica Edwards up against Jess Macolino, Zoe Venning and Keeley Kustermann will be a highlight of the match.
North looks too consistent across the board and should be too strong, but West would love nothing more than to cause an upset and put a dint the Roosters’ top two hopes.
Sunday, May 1 @ 11:50am
ACH Group Stadium
The standalone Sunday game pits reigning premiers Glenelg up against South Adelaide. The Bays have locked up a finals spot and need one more win to see off a potential Norwood challenge, but would be looking much higher and gunning for the double chance. With North Adelaide in the final round, Glenelg need to win here to give itself the best chance of snatching a top two spot, but it could well come down to percentage even with a win there. For South, the finals are not completely off the table given the Panthers are only a win behind, but they have to hope that if they lose, then Norwood goes down too. If the Panthers win, then it guarantees them the possibility of making finals left in their own hands, with a final round clash against Norwood to effectively determine fourth spot. If the Panthers lose here and Norwood win though, no amount of percentage – they are comfortably clear of the Redlegs – will save them with one game left and two wins behind.
Both sides have gained some incredibly massive ins, with only Glenelg on-baller Tessa Kohn (quad) a forced change. State Academy representatives Sarah Goodwin, Ella Boag, Piper Window and Matilda Scholz all return to the Tigers outfit, with Jess Searle also back in. The Panthers will be thrilled to recall their two leading goalkickers in Jess Waterhouse and Shae Archbold, in-form midfielders Nicole Campbell and Tahlita Buethke, and the versatile Lucy Northcott. The Panthers have had crucial unavailabilities the last couple of weeks, but having Senna Gulden step into the team and Cheyenne Hammond return gives the Panthers that extra experience. Though she did not play last week, Czenya Cavouras has been named on an extended bench with South at its most experienced all season. Glenelg has one of the competition’s best players this season in Jessica Bates in ripping form, whilst captain Ellie Kellock played her best game of 2022 last week, and Madisyn Freeman has been building some nice form of late too.
Glenelg at home will be favourites here, but the game could go down to the wire given South looks the strongest it has all year.