Saints and Tigers draw in opening match sim

IN a fitting first competitive contest ahead of the AFL Women’s Season 8, St Kilda and Richmond could not be split on Friday night at RSEA Park as the two sides booted 5.5 (35) apiece.

Both teams unveiled several new players, with ex-Magpie and dual All-Australian Jaimee Lambert starring for a half going up against Richmond gun Monique Conti. Returning for her first game since tearing her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in 2021, Tyanna Smith looked like she had lost none of her trademark burst or skill.

Richmond had a three goals to one third term which put them seven points up with a quarter to play, but back-to-back goals – via Nicola Stevens and Nicola Xenos put the Saints ahead late in the game. Just when it looked like the home side would come away with the win, Katelyn Cox kicked a game-levelling major for the Tigers.

Conti and Eilish Sheerin were named among the best with Cox and Ellie McKenzie, while ex-Saint Caitlin Greiser looked good against her former side. For the Saints, Ella Friend and ex-Lion Jesse Wardlaw both kicked a goal and looked dangerous as a key forward combination.

Carlton recruit Natalie Plane spoke post-match about her first experience in the red, white and black, and said there was plenty to like about the clash.

“It was pretty good,” Plane said via the St Kilda website. “We stuck to what we planned to do. We had some good moments and other moments where we made mistakes, but I’m pretty sure we’re going to go well this year.

“I really liked Xenos’ attack on the ball, and Serene’s (Serene Watson) voice down back was unreal, she just directs and demands.

“It was good to see ‘Friendy’ (Friend) get up and take a few marks, and it was good to see Jesse (Wardlaw). I’ve played against her but never played with her, and she’s the (real) deal.”

Fellow new recruit Greiser was also pleased by what her new team showed in the draw.

“I think the girls played really well and we worked well together,” she said via the Richmond website. “There’s going to be so many learnings to come from today, we’ll go back and look at the vision and work on the positives and the things we need to work on as well.

“I felt confident to get out there and play my role… And I’m really proud of the group’s effort and how we went as a team.

“Looking forward to going interstate with the girls next week, it’s exciting to bond and creating that culture. Travelling together is really important, and I already feel like they’re my family.”

Both sides have the seven-day turnaround and travel interstate, with the Tigers heading up to Blacktown International Sports Park to face the GWS GIANTS, while St Kilda heads west to Alberton Oval to meet Port Adelaide.


North Melbourne flexed its muscles against second-year side Essendon, coming away with a win on the road against the Bombers, 10.7 (67) to 5.5 (35). Unsurprisingly, Jasmine Garner was a standout early, while Alice O’Loughlin (two goals) was dangerous up forward. The experience of Ash Riddell and Emma Kearney also shone through. The likes of Madison Prespakis and Bonnie Toogood looked good in the loss.

Fellow second year side Sydney held on against a fast-finishing Gold Coast to have its first win – albeit in a preseason contest – of its history thanks to a 7.5 (47) to 5.10 (40) victory up at Heritage Bank Stadium. The Swans lead by as much as 26 points at the final break before the Suns booted 3.3 to 0.2 in the final term to cut down the final margin.

Port Adelaide also picked up a strong victory, defeating GWS GIANTS by 31 points at Alberton Oval. In a four-quarter performance, the Power booted three first quarter goals and won each of the terms to get home, 8.5 (53) to 3.4 (22). Abbey Dowrick booted two goals in the win, while new recruits Ashleigh Saint and Jasmin Stewart also impressed in the wet. Returning after almost 18 months out, Rebecca Beeson made a strong return, while Zarlie Goldsworthy starred in the loss.

Fremantle got back to its best after an injury-prone Season 7, crushing rivals West Coast by 52 points in a Western Derby. The Dockers dominated the midfield and gave their forwards plenty of chances, running away 11.10 (76) to 3.6 (24). Mim Strom was a star for the Dockers taking control in the ruck, while the top-end class of Kiara Bowers and Hayley Miller went to work.

Reigning premiers Melbourne kicked off its Season 8 preparations with a 21-point win over Carlton at Ikon Park. The Demons trailed by five points at quarter time, but took control after that, kicking 5.4 to 1.2 to secure the 5.5 (35) to 2.2 (14) victory. New Demons skipper Kate Hore was outstanding for the winners, while Blues’ star Mimi Hill was best-on for the Blues.

Western Bulldogs saved their best until last in a three-period win over Hawthorn. The Bulldogs trailed by 11 points at the last change, but booted four goals to one in the final term to run over the brown and gold, 5.1 (31) to 3.8 (26). Sarah Hartwig kicked two goals in the win, while Elisabeth Georgostathis also caught the eye off half-back. Star recruit Emily Bates and fellow former Lion Greta Bodey both impressed in their first hitout for the Hawks.

Adelaide sent an ominous message to the competition with a 34-point win over reigning grand finalists Brisbane up at Brighton Homes Arena. The Crows and Lions faced off in a five-period outing which saw plenty of goals kicked in the former’s 13.9 (87) to 8.5 (53) victory. Ruck Jess Allan was impressive at the stoppages, while Eloise Jones looks likely to take the mantle as the number one forward with a promising display inside 50. For the Lions, Courtney Hodder kicked a couple of goals looking dangerous inside 50, while Lily Postlethwaite made her return from an ACL injury.

In wet conditions, Geelong scored a 14-point win over Collingwood at Victoria Park to close out the match simulation round. The Cats kicked 5.6 (36) to 3.4 (22) thanks to a dominant three goals to nil opening quarter. Darcy Moloney kicked three goals up forward for the Cats, while new recruit Kate Surman caught the eye.

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