AFLW Head-to-Head: Tahlia Gillard vs Emma King

IN OUR new series Head to Head, we take a look at a potentially exciting head-to-head set to take place over the weekend, and how the match-up may transpire on game day.

Note: The match-up of course subject to the selection of both players in their respective sides.

Ahead of Round 2, we take a look at Melbourne defender Tahlia Gillard up against 50-gamer North Melbourne ruck/forward Emma King.

After bouncing in and out of the team at times last season, Gillard has been the beneficiary of some unfortunate injuries to more senior players, taken her opportunity with both hands and will be really looking to cement her place in the side tonight and as the season progresses. She will likely have to battle the vastly more experienced King, who in recent seasons has found herself less in the ruck and more in the forwardline.

Standing at 190cm, Gillard is the obvious choice to go to the 184cm King, who towers over everyone else in Melbourne’s defence. Gillard taking care of King means the likes of Libby Birch can run with the more mobile Tahlia Randall. Both players can also pinch hit in the ruck so expect to see them battle there too, not just in the North Melbourne forward line

Despite the vast gap in both age and games of experience, this is a surprisingly even pairing. The average disposals for both players is pretty similar (7.2 for King vs 6.8 for Gillard) and the average marks are dead even at two apiece. However there are a number of other stats that paint a very interesting picture.

Gillard has a significantly higher career average disposal efficiency (70.8 vs 57.2) and just about double the number of average intercepts to her name, King has the higher average contested possessions count (4.0 vs 2.2) while Gillard has the higher uncontested possession average by a similar margin (4.0 vs 2.9).

This shows that King is going to have to be wary of Gillard’s ability to intercept, and has to be very clean with the ball to match her. Gillard however needs to make sure that when she has the ball, she needs to break free of King to be most effective.

No matter what happens between the pair tonight, expect an entertaining tussle.

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