Preview | SANFLW W2 Finals: Grand final on the line for Dogs and Redlegs
ONE spot remains in the 2023 SANFL Women’s Grand Final with the winner of Sunday’s preliminary final between Central District and Norwood to face South Adelaide in the decider.
Both these teams enjoyed really strong second halves of the season, with Norwood bouncing back from an 0-3 start to win seven of its last nine games. Central District was similar, only dropping two games after Round 2 to finish with a 9-3 record, four points clear of Norwood. The sides are ranked first and second for offence which means it should be a high-scoring game.
LAST TIME THEY MET
Few fans from either side will forget the last time they met back in Round 3. The Redlegs looked in control as late as the 14th minute of the final term, holding a 10-point lead. But back-to-back Bulldogs goals – to Caitlen Teague and then the match-winner to Jasmine Evans – set their season up. The loss also galvanised the Redlegs who would go on to win the next four games off the back of three tight losses.
B: Laitiah Huynh (41), Karissa Searle (22)
HB: Caitlen Teague (17), Charlotte Riggs (9), Tess Gerhardy (33)
C: Dakota Williams (38), Shelby Smith (1), Sophie Eaton (12)
HF: Jovanka Zecevic (23), Lauren Breguet (28), Elaine Grigg (8)
F: Shannon Murphy (10), Georgia Avery (18)
R: Katelyn Rosenzweig (2), Jasmine Evans (27), Georgia Madigan (7)
INT: Caitlin Wendland (42), Demi Sonneman (20), Madison Lane (40), Shelby Raven (36), Tiarna Grovermann (45), Chantel Reynolds (30)
B: Alison Ferrall (19), Emliy Bartsch (27)
HB: Charlotte Nenke (44), Lauren Smith (24), Molly Brooksby (18)
C: Kiana Lee (28), Lana Schwerdt (41), Morgan Johnston (1)
HF: Amelia Rusden (10), Coby Morgan (51), Tesharna Maher (14)
F: Rosette Zerella (32), Charli Hazelhurst (39)
R: Rosie Boon (46), Tahlita Buethke (2), Sophie Arkun (43)
INT: Emma Clark (7), Alana Lishmund (15), Stephanie Simmonds (17), Nicola Burns (23), Ashlee Gould (16), Grace Whittaker (60), Kaitey Whittaker (6), Elle Lineage (50)
Central District has not made any changes from its tight loss to South Adelaide backing in its team to get the job done against Norwood. The Redlegs have only had to make the one change with Georgina Birchall coming out and an extended bench added to the side. Defender Ashlee Gould is the most experienced of those inclusions, with Kaitey Whittaker, Elle Lineage, Grace Whittaker and Sophie Arkun also listed as inclusions.
The game is crucial in the midfield, with Central skipper Shelby Smith leading the way with a balance of inside-outside midfielders such as Elaine Grigg, Caitlin Wendland and Teague, while Jovanka Zecevic and Laitiah Huynh provide that inside and outside presence respectively. In defence, Madison Lane and Georgia Madigan have been consistent all year, while key towers Charlotte Riggs and Katelyn Rosenzweig are among the most difficult players to beat in one-on-one contests at opposite ends.
Norwood has a well-balanced side, with midfielders Lana Schwerdt, Tahlita Buethke and Tesharna Maher all standouts, while Steph Simmonds has run into terrific form. Forward Alana Lishmund is always dangerous when she can get form under her belt, while young gun Molly Brooksby is coming off back-to-back best on ground performances. The reliable defensive unit that includes captain Alison Ferrall, former Dog Lauren Smith and Emily Bartsch is hard to score against, and will be looking to contain the Central attack.
From a 2023 AFLW Draft perspective, Brooksby and Grigg are two likely to feature high up in the calculations and are around that Top 10 mark nationally. The pair could cross paths at some stage during the day. From the bottom-agers, Coby Morgan has been a great improver, with Riggs and Evans another two who are likely to be highly sought after next year.
Central District has the homeground advantage and finishing second goes in as favourites. The last time these two faced off it was at this very ground so expect another thriller to go down to the wire. The teams are very different to South Adelaide, but will be able to score quickly if given the opportunity.