SANFLW Preliminary Final preview: Double Chance Blues face reigning premiers
JUST one of Sturt or Glenelg will reach the last Sunday in May, with the 2022 South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s Preliminary Final to take place to decide North Adelaide’s grand final opponent. The Roosters earned their place after defeating Sturt in the second semi-final last week, with the Double Blues enacting their double chance through that loss. They now take on Glenelg who did enough to get past South Adelaide in the do-or-die first semi-final.
Sunday, May 22 @ 1:10pm
After Sturt utilised its double chance in its loss to North Adelaide in week one, there is no turning back for either the Double Blues or Glenelg in this one. The match takes place at Wigan Oval on Sunday afternoon, where the Adelaide Hills should provide the perfect backdrop for a do-or-die penultimate round of finals action.
Both these sides would have come away last week with plenty of room to improve, particularly Sturt who, after booting the first goal of the game, kicked just 1.1 for the rest of the match, as North Adelaide piled on 11 straight majors to run away with the 11.5 (71) to 2.2 (14). Though Glenelg got the win, the Bays were far from their best selves, not really clicking into gear until the third term, playing a reactive brand of football in the first half that allowed Sturt to take a low-scoring one-point lead into the main break. Lead by skipper Ellie Kellock, Glenelg picked itself up off the canvas and delivered a killer blow to the Panthers, and ensured their hopes of back-to-back flags remained alive with a 5.7 (37) to 3.3 (21) victory.
At the team selection table this week, ruck Alex Pearce is out of the side, which will leave the talented and athletic Zoe Prowse to take on the equally athletic, but 10cm taller Matilda Scholz, and Jess Searle. The Double Blues have brought in three players on an extended bench, with the hope that inside midfielder and reigning best and fairest winner Isobel Kuiper can get up for the clash after that injury in Round 12 last in the Double Blues’ win over Central District. Ally Ladas adds a point of difference up forward and was named back in the side, as was Olivia McEvoy on an extended bench. Glenelg had a far easier team selection, bringing back Chelsea Packer from suspension, adding the wily forward into the side and ensuring the Bays kept their cards close to their chest in regards to who would drop out of Sunday’s match.
Looking to the key battles, the ruck between AFLW-listed Prowse and heir apparent to that in Scholz will be one to watch, with Kellock, Piper Window and Jessica Bates all having good seasons. Bates was well down on her season averages last week and will no doubt put out a bigger performance this week, up against a south midfielder of Alisha Gepp, Kate Harris and Georgia Bevan, if Kuiper does not get up.
Sturt’s defence is key to its success, with the likes of Kiera Mueller, Alex Ballard and Jaimee Wittervan all able to balanced between defence and offence, whilst the Glenelg set of Madisyn Freeman, Ella Boag and Sarah Goodwin all break the lines. Up forward for Sturt, India Rasheed is a point of difference, with Amy Brooks-Birve difficult to stop on the lead, whilst Marie Martino and Samantha Franson are dangerous players for the Bays.
The clash is set to go down to the wire, and on last week’s form and general finals experience you would go Glenelg, though Sturt has earned its spot here, and whether or not Kuiper gets up for the clash could be a telling factor, in what is set to be a nail-biter.