AFLW clubs dust off cobwebs ahead of season
THOUGH the official practice matches kick off next weekend, 16 of the 18 clubs engaged in either unofficial practice matches or match simulations over the past week. We summarised the notes made by clubs across the competition to put it all in one place.
ADELAIDE vs PORT ADELAIDE
Adelaide and Port Adelaide clashed at Thebarton Oval where the score was not kept due to it being a match simulation. The four 20-minute quarters saw Port play all 27 available players against an impressive Crows side who were missing some key midfielders. Jess Waterhouse was the last player on the Crows list, but she showed why she is more than capable of stepping up to the elite level, booting three first half goals. Others who impressed coach Matthew Clarke included Rachelle Martin and Danielle Ponter, with the full Crows wrap here. While Fremantle recruit Gemma Houghton was the standout Port player, new coach Lauren Arnell said she was impressed with her side’s contested ball-winning and response from a slow start to a dominant second term.
FREMANTLE vs RICHMOND
Richmond proved too strong for an understrength Fremantle outfit in Mandurah, running out 10.11 (71) to 1.2 (8) victors. The Tigers were minus Katie Brennan in the big win, while the Dockers were without key midfielders Kiara Bowers and Hayley Miller, and youngster Sarah Verrier, while a host of experienced talents such as Ebony Antonio and Janelle Cuthbertson were limited to a half. Draftee Megan Kauffman kicked the Dockers sole goal, while Courtney Wakefield slotted five for the winners. Star onballers Monique Conti and Ellie McKenzie took advantage of an inexperienced Dockers midfield. Fremantle coach Trent Cooper named Jess Low as his side’s best, playing through the midfield in the final term. For the Tigers, Stella Reid kicked a couple of majors, while Sarah Hosking also played well. The in-depth Richmond report is here.
SYDNEY SWANS vs GWS GIANTS
Further north, the first unofficial Battle of the Bridge took place with the more experienced GWS GIANTS getting the better of Sydney Swans by 18 points. After a competitive first half where just four points separated the sides, the GIANTS kicked four goals to two in the second half to record the 7.9 (51) to 5.3 (33) victory. Of the seven GIANTS goals, six came from three players with first year draftee Zarlie Goldsworthy, youngster Emily Pease and leading goalkicker Cora Staunton all finishing with two majors. New GIANTS coach Cameron Bernasconi said he was particularly pleased with Jasmine Grierson‘s work in defence, while Pease and Goldsworthy stood out. For the Swans, another first-year player slotted multiple goals as Cynthia Hamilton kicked three in the loss.
BRISBANE vs GOLD COAST
A match simulation Q-Clash took place last Thursday night with Brisbane and Gold Coast having a tough battle at Metricon Stadium. Without an emphasis on scores, reigning league best and fairest Jessica Bates backed up her incredible 2022 season, and as among the best with the likes of Isabel Dawes, Catherine Svarc and Courtney Hodder. In defence, Breanna Koenen lead from the front yet again and the forwardline looked ominous. Lions coach Craig Starcevich said the match simulation was more about getting minutes into players and using rotations around the ground. The full Lions wrap can be found here. For the Suns, Lauren Ahrens was a standout as Gold Coast played its entire list on the night. First-year draftee Jasmyn Smith was among those to impress, whilst Jamie Stanton provided good service inside 50 to Tara Bohanna and defender-turned-forward Giselle Davies. Meanwhile Annise Bradfield made her return from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. The Suns wrap can be found here.
In a low-scoring contest, North Melbourne knocked off Collingwood under lights at the AIA Centre. With a strong breeze favouring one end, the Roos came away with the 4.5 (29) to 2.6 (18) victory. Jasmine Garner slotted two goals against her former side, with Chloe Molloy kicking an impressive snap from the boundary line. Aside from Garner and Ash Riddell who were impressive as expected, the tall trio of Sophia McCarthy, Grace Matser and Kim Rennie impressed aerially, while first-year draftee Charli Granville was clean at ground level. The full Roos wrap can be found here.
Expansion side Hawthorn hit the road to travel to Western Australia and take on a very different looking West Coast unit at Mineral Resources Park. Though the brown and gold challenged at times, the Eagles played four quarters and recorded a 29-point victory, 11.4 (70) to 6.5 (41). Tamara Luke slotted four goals in the loss for the Hawks to be a dominant target inside 50, while Kate Bartlett (three), Shanae Davison (two) and Aimee Schmidt (two) were impactful for the blue and gold.
Reigning grand finalists Melbourne proved too strong for expansion side Essendon in a predictable result, but one that would have still had Bombers fans pleased. The Demons won by 44 points, but Essendon still managed to kick six goals against one of the title contenders. Essendon boasted a young backline against a potent Demons attack, with many taking the field in an AFLW contest for the first time. Finally, Carlton and St Kilda had a low key match simulation training session at Ikon Park, with the two teams testing out a variety of combinations.