IT is week two of the VFLW finals, and the competition is down to four teams.
Although both games may be called semi finals, they have very different stakes.
For Essendon and Casey, the winner moves straight through to the Grand Final, while the loser has to front up next week to play the winner of the other semi.
For Hawthorn and the Southern Saints, the winner of their clash stays alive while the loser’s season is done. We preview the two tussles.
Essendon vs Casey
Sunday at 11:05am
Both these sides had big wins last week, and would love nothing more than to repeat that kind of performance and move straight through to the Grand Final.
It is not all doom and gloom for the loser though, as they get a second chance in playing the winner of the other semi, next week.
Casey has a daunting task ahead of it this week, attempting to pull of what no other side has done all year – beat Essendon.
These two sides have recent history though, only last meeting back in Round 14.
That particular afternoon was a very close affair, with Essendon ultimately prevailing by a single goal.
The one thing that really let the Demons down that day was their accuracy in front of goal. They kicked two goals nine but won many of the stats, including disposals, inside 50s and clearances, so if only one or two of those behinds had been goals they would have won.
They were a lot more accurate last weekend against Collingwood so there is hope for Casey fans that history will not repeat itself.
They also managed to keep Georgia Nanscawen to only 14 touches, but the main reason behind keeping her quiet – Shelley Heath – is not likely to play this week because the AFLW preseason has commenced.
Speaking of AFLW preseason, Casey’s highest ball winner and only goal scorer from that day – Eliza West and Megan Fitzsimon – are both AFLW listed and likely will not be playing this time around, so Casey will need to find other players to step up and fill the gaps.
This will likely play into Essendon’s favour, who have kept the same core team all season and whose AFL stars, the likes of Nanscawen, Renee Tierney and Alana Barba, will all still be playing this weekend.
So overall, expect another tight affair with the match to really go either way.
Hawthorn vs Southern Saints
Sunday at 1:05pm
Box Hill City Oval
These two sides had very different performances last week.
Hawthorn was never really in the match against Essendon. The Hawks struggled to really get the ball inside their 50, much less convert that into scores, but they did win the clearances despite being comprehensively beaten in the hitouts, so that is certainly a positive they will take out of the match.
The Southern Saints on the other hand, were down early against Geelong, but rallied and made better use of the windy conditions down in Geelong to their advantage to take the win, despite being challenged by Geelong right until the dying seconds.
Recent history between these two sides points very favourably in Hawthorn’s direction.
Last time these two sides met was back in Round 8, and it was a fairly comfortable win to the Hawks despite the goal famine in the middle two quarters.
However, a lot has changed between then and now, so it may be a very different affair this weekend.
Also, the Saints are one of those sides you just cannot afford to underrate.
For starters, they were actually leading at quarter time in their clash against the Bombers, and kept them goalless.
They also beat Geelong last week against the odds, who were more highly fancied then them.
The Saints should also find this week’s conditions easier then many of the conditions they have had to face in the past few weeks. Box Hill City Oval does not get the wind that the likes of Trevor Barker Oval normally does or that Deakin Uni did last week.
Both sides have noted goal scorers including the likes of Jordan Mifsud, Kristy Stratton, Tayla Kearns and Kayla Ripari, so the question will be whose midfield can give their forwards more opportunities, and whose defenders, including the likes of Jenna Richardson and Grace Buchan, can quell the influence of the opposition forwards best.