AFLW preview: Round 2, 2018

Welcome to round two of the 2018 AFLW season, where quite frankly, nobody knows what’s going to happen.

After ‘that call’ was made to the coaches and ‘that memo’ was leaked to the media, nobody knows if the coaches and umpires will abide by the AFL’s recommendations, or as a number of players have subtly (or not so subtly) hinted in the media, league headquarters will be told to ‘go forth and multiply’, and their game plans continue on as normal.

Sophie Conway celebrates her goal in the Lions’ big win away from home against Adelaide. Image: Matt Turner/AFL Media

Even without league headquarters’ thought bubbles, other news during the week means a number of questions on how teams will shape up this weekend.

For Tasmania’s Daria Bannister, her season is over after receiving the bad news that she’d done her ACL. In replacement, the Western Bulldogs have elevated from the rookie list 23-year-old, 185cm basketballer Kim Rennie.

At Melbourne, Karen Paxman was on fire in the opening minutes of the game last weekend before suffering back spasms. She has been named for this week, but will she be at 100%?

Collingwood’s Sarah D’Arcy won’t be back until round four after kicking the Blues’ Sarah Hosking in a region where… well… let’s say for a few seconds there, Hosking was counting her lucky stars that she was not a male!

Meanwhile, the Blues head into their clash with GWS without their head coach Damien Keeping, who was admitted to hospital last Sunday. We wish him a speedy recovery.

Don’t forget, you can join our live conversation on Twitter during each match by following us at @GirlsPlayFooty and using the relevant game’s hashtag.


GWS vs Carlton
Friday, February 9 @ Drummoyne Oval – 7:05pm (AEDT)
TV: Fox Footy
Stream:, AFLW App (Australia) and Watch.AFL (overseas)
Radio: ABC Grandstand
Twitter: #AFLWGiantsBlues

GWS Giants
B: Maddy Boyd – Tanya Hetherington – Pepa Randall
HB: Nicola Barr – Ellie Brush – Alicia Eva
C: Courtney Gum
HF: Emma Swanson – Phoebe McWilliams – Amanda Farrugia
F: Rebecca Beeson – Jacinda Barclay – Cora Staunton
Foll: Erin McKinnon – Jess Dal Pos – Renee Forth
Int: Aimee Schmidt – Britt Tully – Renee Tomkins – Elle Bennetts – Phoebe Monahan
Emg: –
IN: Emma Swanson, Aimee Schmidt, Renee Tomkins, Phoebe Monahan
OUT: Maddy Collier, Rebecca Privitelli, Jodie Hicks, Louise Stephenson

Carlton Blues
B: Alison Downie – Brianna Davey – Tilly Lucas Rodd
HB: Reni Hicks – Danielle Hardiman – Gabriella Pound
C: Shae Audley
HF: Tayla Harris – Kerryn Harrington – Nicola Stevens
F: Georgia Gee – Darcy Vescio – Sophie Li
Foll: Kate Shierlaw – Sarah Hosking – Lauren Brazzale
Int: Madison Gay – Sarah Lash – Breann Moody – Jess Hosking – Katie Loynes
Emg: Kate Gillespie Jones
IN: Reni Hicks, Tilly Lucas-Rodd, Sarah Last
OUT: Lauren Arnell, Nat Plane, Kate Gillespie Jones

Did we or did we not say that GWS would be no push-over last week?

True, as pointed out on Twitter, we tipped them to finish bottom four and not in the top four, as there’s still some further development that’s needed, but they will take a big scalp along the way… and that happens tomorrow night.

Despite the loss to the Dees, you can feel the positive energy all around the Giants camp. 36-year-old debutante Courtney Gum picked right up from her 2017 SANFLW and Adelaide Footy League form to collect 17 possessions.

Alicia Eva was lethal nailing 13 tackles along with her 14 disposals, and Jacinda Barcaly was brilliant across half-forward with 14 touches, 6 tackles and 2 goals.

Strangely, the team that won last week doesn’t go into the match with the same enthusiasm. Aside from missing their head coach through illness, they struggled to put away a weakened Collingwood side, who they really should have thumped.

Some of the stats were damning, including former captain Lauren Arnell laying two tackles, but zero disposals; and AFLW 2017’s leading goal kicker Darcy Vescio having no scoreboard impact.

Arnell’s performance saw no mercy given from the match selection committee, with the 2017 priority pick player dropped.

Most of the focus on this match will be at the bookends of the ground.

At one end, Tayla Harris off a good debut with the Navy Blues last week, lines up against the Giants’ Tanya Hetherington. The two did clash last year in the VFLW, when Diamond Creek hosted the St Kilda Sharks – Tayla’s second and last game in the red, black and white.

It’s the young star versus the experienced campaigner, with Hetherington probably having the edge due to the weaker Blues midfield and the Harris’ inaccurate kicking.

At the other end of the ground will be Brianna Davey versus Phoebe “P-Mac” McWilliams. Two St Kilda Sharks teammates go head to head, and despite McWilliams’ three goals last week, she’s now up against the elite of the AFLW.

Possibly the saving grace for McWilliams may be the Blues coaching staff having to switch Davey into the midfield if things are going bad. In that case, it would be Laura Attard with the job of minding the GWS forward, and in that event, I’ll back P-Mac to kick a couple.

Finally, add to the equation a returning Emma Swanson to team up with Renee Forth, Courtney Gum and Alicia Eva, you’ve then got one elite midfield unit that will give the Blues nightmares.

Prediction: GWS by 15 points.


Melbourne vs Adelaide
Saturday, February 10 @ Casey Fields – 5:05pm (AEDT)
TV: 7two (Adelaide) and Fox Footy
Stream:, AFLW App (Australia) and Watch.AFL (overseas)
Radio: None
Twitter: #AFLWDeesCrows

Melbourne Demons
B: Alison Downie – Laura Duryea – Bianca Jakobsson
HB: Jasmine Grierson – Katherine Smith – Elise O’Dea
C: Melissa Hickey
HF: Shelley Scott – Kate Hore – Catherine Phillips
F: Aliesha Newman – Tegan Cunningham – Lily Mithen
Foll: Erin Hoare – Karen Paxman – Daisy Pearce
Int: Richelle Cranston – Emma Humphries – Ashleigh Guest – Alyssa MIfsud – Lauren Pearce
Emg: Brooke Patterson – Harriet Cordner
IN: Alyssa Mifsud
OUT: Maddy Guerin

Adelaide Crows
B: Stevie-Lee Thompson – Sarah Allan – Dayna Cox
HB: Angela Foley – Talia Radan – Abbey Holmes
C: Ebony Marioff
HF: Rheanne Lugg – Jessica Sedunary – Deni Varnhagen
F: Jasmyn Hewett – Sarah Perkins – Eloise Jones
Foll: Rhiannon Metcalfe – Georgia Bevan – Chelsea Randall
Int: Sally Riley – Jess Allan – Ruth Wallace – Justine Mules – Jenna McCormick
Emg: Sophie Armistead – Marijana Rajcic
IN: Abbey Holmes, Jenna McCormick
OUT: Anne Hatchard, Sophie Armistead

Who would have thought in the space of a week that the Crows’ chances of winning back-to-back AFLW flags would be looking slim?

After only scoring in one quarter against the Lions last week, they are now on the road against the team four AFLW captain predicted to make the Grand Final. RED ALERT, TAKE YOUR BATTLE STATIONS, ADELAIDE!

Mind you, it wasn’t all roses for the Demons last week.

They were on the verge of being embarrassed for a second time by the Giants, but like always with good sides, the cream rose to the top at the crucial moment with Daisy Pearce, Elise O’Dea and Richelle Cranston coming to the rescue.

As we head into this Saturday, Bec Goddard is again down not just two quality footballers, but two quality leaders.

With Courtney Cramey (hamstring) and Erin Phillips (quad) sitting out the match, numerous Crows are going to have to stand up this week to have any chance.

For example, Sarah Perkins had just the one disposal last week, along with three tackles. There wasn’t much Perko could do, the ball was being turned over on the wing too much, with the Lions having double the amount inside 50s the Crows had.

Can any of the Allan sisters or vice-captain Sally Riley put in a match-winning performance this week, or will they fold faster than a banana lounge after a hot summer’s day?

On the flip, did anyone see Geelong VFLW’s Erin Hoare rack up 22 hit-outs on debut for Melbourne? The Demons coaching staff barely had to use Lauren Pearce, who is rated elite by Champion Data – that’s saying something!

When looking for improvement in the Demons side, Melissa Hickey was quiet be her standards with eight disposals, focusing more on creating pressure; but she could afford to be with the likes of ex-Carlton footballer Bianca Jakobbson raking up 14 disposals, and the return of Meg Downie, who collected 13 touches.

The one-on-one battles to watch this Saturday at Casey Fields are Laura Duryea versus Sarah Perkins (a classic in Darwin last year), Deni Varnhagen versus Tegan Cunningham, and in the midfield, Sophie Armistead to get the job on Daisy Pearce.

Prediction: Melbourne by 20 points.


Fremantle vs Collingwood
Saturday, February 10 @ Perth Stadium – 7:10pm (AWDT)
TV: 7mate (Melb, Adel, Syd & Perth) and Fox Footy
Stream:, AFLW App (Australia) and Watch.AFL (overseas)
Radio: SEN 1116
Twitter: #AFLWFreoPies

Fremantle Dockers
B: Hayley Miller – Alex Williams – Evangelie Gooch
HB: Ashley Sharp – Cassie Davidson – Gabby O’Sullivan
C: Dana Hooker
HF: Lisa Webb – Amy Lavell – Ebony Antonio
F: Melissa Caulfield – Stacey Barr – Ashlee Atkins
Foll: Alicia Janz – Stephanie Cain – Kara Donnellan
Int: Belinda Smith – Brianna Green – Gemma Houghton – Leah Mascall – Jodie White
Emg: Tiah Haynes – Tayla McAuliffe
IN: Gemma Houghton, Lisa Webb
OUT: Lara Filocamo, Tiah Haynes

Collingwood Magpies
B: Cecilia McIntosh – Iilish Ross – Emma Grant
HB: Chloe Molloy – Stacey Livingstone – Caitlyn Edwards
C: Brittany Bonnici
HF: Christina Bernardi – Jess Duffin – Steph Chiocci
F: Lauren Tesoriero – Jasmine Garner – Melissa Kuys
Foll: Emma King – Jaimee Lambert – Amelia Barden
Int: Holly Whitford – Eliza Hynes – Sophie Casey – Tara Morgan – Bree White
Emg: Ruby Schleicher – Kristy Stratton
IN: Holly Whitford, Tara Morgan, Lauren Tesoriero, Jess Duffin
OUT: Sarah D’Arcy, Sarah Dargan, Moana Hope, Ruby Schleicher

Oh no. The two sides who were, let’s be honest, rubbish last week, are the Saturday night feature game… and going to be playing in front of around 50,000 paying spectators.

Let’s hope for the Pies it was just round one nerves, and for Fremantle they can find that form they showed in the third quarter against the Dogs.

Big occasions call for the very best to stand up, and that’s why most eyes will be on Kara ‘Juddy’ Donnellan this week.

The Fremantle captain was very quiet in the opening half last week when the Bulldogs went on a rampage, but as she got into the game in the second half, the Dockers fortunes started to turn around.

Can ‘Juddy’ and Freo best and fairest Dana Hooker put on a clinic like they did on home turf (Subiaco) like they did against Carlton last year?

It will be a harder challenge, with Lauren Tesoriero back in the Pies side to help Jaimee Lambert in the engine room.

The main story though is what’s happening in the Collingwood forward line.

A message has been sent. Moana Hope has been omitted due to form, with last week’s late omission, Jess Duffin (nee Cameron) coming in.

Duffin is known as a good overhead mark, but let’s hope she’s good with the ground-ball as well, after some embarrassing efforts from the rest of the Pies forwards in front of goal last week.

Prediction: Fremantle by 4 points.


Brisbane vs Western Bulldogs
Sunday, February 11 @ South Pine Sports Complex – 3:35pm (AEST)
TV: 7mate (Brisbane) & Fox Footy
Stream:, AFLW App (Australia) and Watch.AFL (overseas)
Radio: none
Twitter: #AFLWLionsDogs

Brisbane Lions
B: Nicole Hildebrand – Shannon Campbell – Nat Exon
HB: Kaitlyn Ashmore – Leah Kaslar – Breanna Koenen
C: Emma Zielke
HF: Kate Lutkins – Tahlia Randall – Kate McCarthy
F: Jessica Wuetschner – Sabrina Frederick-Traub – Brittany Gibson
Foll: Sharni Webb – Emily Bates – Jamie Stanton
Int: Ally Anderson – Arianna Clarke – Gabby Collingwood – Sophie Conway – Jordan Zanchetta
Emg: Bella Ayre – Megan Hunt
IN: Nat Exon
OUT: Megan Hunt

Western Bulldogs
B: Libby Birch – Lauren Spark – Nicole Callinan
HB: Hannah Scott – Bonnie Toogood – Brooke Lochland
C: Ellie Blackburn
HF: Jenna Bruton – Katie Brennan – Monique Conti
F: Deanna Berry – Isabel Huntington – Naomi Ferres
Foll: Aasta O’Connor – Emma Kearney – Kirsty Lamb
Int: Tiarna Ernst – Kim Rennie – Aisling Utri – Angelica Gogos – Emma Mackie – Bailey Hunt – Hayley Wildes (two to be omitted)
Emg: –
IN: Hayley Wildes, Bailey Hunt, Kim Rennie
OUT: Daria Bannister

To quote Robin Williams in Good Morning Vietnam, “It’s going to be hot, real hot, damn hot”… and I’m not just talking about the 34-degree sunny day predicted for Brisbane.

This is a classic hit-out between a well defensively structured team in the Brisbane Lions, versus the firepower of the Bulldogs’ forward line.

Both sides pack a big name half-forward: the strong overhead marking of Sabrina Frederick-Traub for the Lions, and the skill and athleticism of the Bulldogs’ captain Katie Brennan.

For the Lions, it will most likely be Leah Kaslar who will have the job of running with KB, while for the Doggies, do you go with Lauren Spark who played across Half-back last week, or do you need the power of Aasta O’Connor to ruffle Sabrina’s feathers?

In the engine room, it’s Emily Bates, Emma Zielke and Kaitlyn Ashmore taking on Emma Kearney, Ellie Blackburn and Kirsty Lamb.

That’s a midfield clash full of toughness, speed and skill… simply mouth-watering for women’s footy fans.

Plus, there’s the wildcards. Number one draft pick Izzy Huntington for the Doggies, and ex-Carlton footballer Nat Exon now lining up for the Lions.

Both of these players could explode at any moment and swing the game in their side’s favour.

As the saying goes, “defence wins premierships”, so I’m backing the Lions.

Prediction: Brisbane Lions by 6 points.