The path to Etihad Stadium has narrowed with now only four teams left in the hunt to make the 2017 AFL International Cup Women’s Grand Final.
Today at Royal Park, as if one grand conspiracy, we’ll see at least one team from the British Isles and one team from North America make the big dance this Saturday at Docklands.
From 1pm (AEST) on McAlister Oval, the 49th Parallel Cup combatants, the Canada Northern Lights and USA Freedom, duke it out with the reigning International Cup champions going in as favourites.
After a scare from Fiji in round one, where they got over the line in golden point extra-time, the Northern Lights bounced back to destroy Pakistan and easily handle the GB Swans.
What will trouble the Freedom is finding a way to stop of the run of Hilary Perry, Aimee Legault, Kirsti Oja, Lara Hilmi, Valerie Moreau and Nicola Kirwan. The ability for coach Jason Arnold to rotate these stars through the middle at will should give Leigh Barnes a headache on who to tag or negate.
On the flip-side, the Freedom do bring strength and height to contest, with Hallie Kastanek expected to dominate the ruck contests, Brette Brower and Carly Smolak will prove difficult to match up on, while Melissa Armstrong will be in and under in every pack looking for the hardball get.
To watch the Canada versus USA semi-final, click on the video below at 1pm (AEST).
Then at 2:45pm, the GB Swans and Irish Banshees meet for the third tournament in just 12 months.
Since their international debut, the Swans have never been beaten by the Banshees head-to-head; however, it’s a much stronger Irish squad this time, when including their Australian-based players.
The UTS Shamrocks’ Gillian Behan, Carol Breen and Christine McCutcheon, plus Diamond Creek’s Maebh Moriarty, Clara Fitzpatrick and Laura Duryea, have all been carving it up in this year’s tournament, proving a class above the players based elsewhere around the world.
For the Irish to be stopped, the Saulter sisters (Danni and Alex), Beth Bailey, Frankie Hocking and Rania Ramadan are all going to have to play out of their skins for the Swans to win.
Can Lucy Jones and Laura Turner find their way through the heavy Banshees traffic to get the ball inside 50 for Stacey Hughes to bag a few? Only time will tell.
To watch the Ireland versus Great Britain Semi-Final, click on the video below at 2:45pm (AEST).
Also on today are the minor placing Semi-Finals to see who will advance to the fifth v sixth and seventh v eighth ranking finals on Friday.
To watch the Fiji versus European Crusaders match, click on the video below at 1pm (AEST).
To watch the PNG Flames take on Pakistan, click on the video below at 2:45pm (AEST).
As an added bonus, Girls Play Footy will be conducting two Facebook Live Q&A streams with players from the winning Semi-Final teams this evening.
Then from 9pm (AEST) we’ll be putting your questions to either the Canada Northern Lights or USA Freedom in another live Facebook Live interview.