AFLW preview: Round 4, 2018

In just one weekend of football, everything we thought we knew about AFLW just got tipped on its head.

If you think round four is going to be any easier to tip, you’ve got to be crazy.

The Western Bulldogs and Carlton Blues will contest the first AFLW Pride Game on Friday night. Image: Herald Sun

Star players missing through injury or suspension, a game played in the middle of nowhere (Alice Springs) and cut-throat matches that could end the Grand Final aspirations of a number of teams.

Oh, and amongst that all, we’ve got something to celebrate: the first AFL Women’s Pride Game, to be contested between the Western Bulldogs and Carlton.

However, there is one shadow lurking. The AFL Men’s JLT Community Series kicks off this weekend as well. How much media coverage will it suck away from the AFLW, or will women’s footy fight through to dominate the back pages of the papers?

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.


Western Bulldogs vs Carlton
Friday, February 23 @ VU Whitten Oval – 7:05pm (AEDT)
TV: Fox Footy
Stream:, AFLW App (Australia) and Watch.AFL (overseas)
Radio: Joy FM 94.9, ABC Grandstand & SEN 1116
Twitter: #AFLWPrideGame #AFLWDogsBlues

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

Carlton Blues
B: Alison Downie – Danielle Hardiman – Kate Gillespie-Jones
HB: Keryn Harrington – Nicola Stevens – Courtney Webb
C: Sarah Hosking
HF: Jess Hosking – Nat Plane – Breann Moody
F: Darcy Vescio – Gabriella Pound – Kate Shierlaw
Foll: Maddison Gay – Tilly Lucas-Rodd – Katie Loynes
Int: Shae Audley – Reni Hicks – Madeline Keryk – Lauren Arnell – Sophie Li
Emg: Bridie Kennedy – Sarah Last
IN: Courtney Webb, Madeline Keryk, Lauren Arnell, Natalie Plane
OUT: Katie-Jane Grieve, Georgia Gee, Tayla Harris, Lauren Brazzale

Well, well, well, isn’t this match going to be a chaotic mess!

The Bulldogs are missing their forward firepower in Katie Brennan (ankle) and Izzy Huntington (ACL), while the Blues are missing their best player in Brianna Davey (ACL) and high-profile trade Tayla Harris (suspension).

In theory, the Doggies should be the hardest hit, as the Brennan-Huntington combo represents nearly 50% of all their goals scored for the season to date. That said, taking away their contributions (7 goals), the rest of the red, white and blue have kicked more goals total than the entire Blues squad (10 to 8).

However, the game will most likely be played in the Blues’ style: a good old fashion, low scoring, car park brawl style of game.

Carlton lead the competition for tackles, averaging 69 per game, with Shae Audley, Sarah Hosking, Katie Loynes and Jess Hosking all in the top 25 for tackles laid so far this season.

This highlights a great work rate and they constantly put their opponents under pressure.

Frustratingly, the Blues also have the worst disposal efficiency in the league at just 52.8% and the worst goal kicking accuracy at a lousy 23.5%, meaning they are not getting reward for effort.

On the flip side, the Bulldogs lead the competition in disposal efficiency at 62.8%, but that percentage could be dented after the Blues start to apply the brake clamps.

The question for this match is who can make the most of their limited opportunities with the depleted stocks they have?

Looking at it on paper, the easy answer seems to be the Bulldogs. Emma Kearney, Ellie Blackburn, Hannah Scott, Jenna Burton and Brooke Lochland can all not only move the ball, but also score.

Although the Blues have the 2017 AFLW leading goal kicker in Darcy Vescio, they simply just can’t get the ball to her. Take out ball magnet Brianna Davey, the marking of Tayla Harris and the hustle of Lauren Brazzale, and things are looking pretty grim for Carlton.

Sophie Li and Nicola Stevens, both in the league top 50 for disposals gathered, offer a light of hope, but they’re going to need a hell of a lot more support.

Prediction: Bulldogs by 8 points.


Brisbane vs Fremantle
Saturday, February 24 @ South Pine Sports Complex – 3:35pm (AEST)
TV: 7Mate (Brisbane & Perth) and Fox Sports 3
Stream:, AFLW App (Australia) and Watch.AFL (overseas)
Radio: –
Twitter: #AFLWLionsFreo

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

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

Late on Saturday night after their win at Princes Park in the dark, it seemed the Lions were on track to take one of the two Grand Final spots on offer.

Less than 24 hours later, the Dockers sent shockwaves through the competition and catapulted themselves back into calculations.

This match promises to be a cracker in the Sunshine State, as it’s known the Queensland style of footy has been modelled on that of WA’s: a fast, wide open, attacking game.

Looking at the stats, both sides are almost equal for hitouts and centre clearances, and with the battle in the centre square being Emma Zielke and Emily Bates versus Kara Donnellan and Dana Hooker, it’s hard to even suggest who has the slightest of an advantage.

On the wings, the Lions speedy duo of Kaitlyn Ashmore and Kate McCarthy will have their work cut out trying to shrug off Evie Gooch and Ebony Antonino.

Then there’s the show stoppers. At one end of the ground, the legend that is “Woosha” – forward pocket Jessica Wuetschner who is on fire this season – already has five goals to her name and looking more dangerous every game. At the other end, the young Swan Districts recruit Emily McGuire. Her one-handed pick up, spin around and goal last week for Fremantle was an instant highlights reel classic.

Both sides have proven to be slow out of the blocks this year and gradually build into the game, so based on not much separating them on paper, one has to tilt in favour of the home team.

Prediction: Brisbane by 6 points.


Melbourne vs Collingwood
Saturday, February 24 @ TIO Traeger Park – 5:40pm (ACST)
TV: 7Mate (Melb, Adel, Syd & Perth) & Fox Footy
Stream:, AFLW App (Australia) and Watch.AFL (overseas)
Radio: –
Twitter: #AFLWDeesPies

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

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

Oh, this game could get ugly, very ugly.

There’s this vibe floating around that the Melbourne players are ticked off with their performance last week.

They had full control over the Dockers in the first quarter and failed to put them away. They know they gave up four premiership points they should have easily banked, and now they’ll be looking to take it out on their next opponents.

Unfortunately for the Magpies, just when things were starting to look like they were going to click, they face this Melbourne outfit wanting to take out their frustrations on someone.

Moana Hope showed us glimpses of her best with two important goals, Jaimee Lambert and Stephanie Chiocci racked up the possessions, and Chloe Molloy continues to show us why she should have been the number one draft pick – YES, I SAID THAT!

Last week was also great to see Meg Hutchins back out on an AFLW ground, running around collecting disposals and terrorising sides.

My question to the Collingwood selection committee is, why wasn’t Hutchy played in the first two weeks? Just quietly, if I was Geelong or North Melbourne I’d pick up the phone and say the Pies “If you don’t want Meg, we’ll gladly take her”. The veteran has many years of good footy left in her.

The problem is for the Magpies is who can they afford to sacrifice to do a tagging role this week, who exactly in the Melbourne midfield do they tag, and how can they match the disposal output of the Demons?

While we always heap praise on the Darebin Midfield Mafia which are the engine room of the Demons, can we just take a moment to say how bloody good Bianca Jakobsson has been since crossing over from Carlton?

After round three, Jakobsson off half-back has been averaging 15.3 disposals (only behind Daisy Pearce and Elise O’Dea at the Dees), 5 marks and 3.3 tackles per match. This Cranbourne star is thriving at in the red and blue.

Boiling it all down, the Pies are improving, but are just not in the same class as Melbourne, who have too many stars to keep under control.

Prediction: Melbourne by 22 points.


GWS vs Adelaide
Sunday, February 25 @ Fremantle Oval – 4:35pm (AEDT)
TV: 7 (Adelaide) & Fox Footy
Stream:, AFLW App (Australia) and Watch.AFL (overseas)
Radio: –
Twitter: #AFLWGiantsCrows

GWS Giants (squad only)
Alicia Eva, Phoebe McWilliams, Jodie Hicks, Rebecca Beeson, Jessica Dal Pos, Nicola Barr, Tanya Hetherington, Ellie Brush, Aimee Schmidt, Cora Staunton, Maddy Collier, Pippa Smyth, Britt Tully, Emma Swanson, Amanda Farrugia, Melissa Freckelton, Pepa Randall, Elle Bennetts, Erin McKinnon, Courtney Gum, Renee Forth, Phoebe Monahan, Jacinda Barclay
IN: Maddy Collier, Pippa Smyth, Melissa Freckelton
OUT: Louise Stephenson

Adelaide Crows
B: Mariana Rajcic – Sarah Allan – Courtney Cramey
HB: Stevie-Lee Thompson – Rachael Killian – Deni Varnhagen
C: Erin Phillips
HF: Abbey Holmes – Jasmyn Hewitt – Jenna McCormick
F: Ruth Wallace – Sarah Perkins – Jess Sedunary
Foll: Rhiannon Metcalfe – Chelsea Randall – Ebony Marinoff
Int: Angela Foley – Jess Allan – Georgia Bevan – Justine Mules – Eloise Jones
Emg: Anne Hatchard – Sally Riley
IN: Courtney Cramey, Angela Foley, Anne Hatchard, Sophie Armitstead
OUT: Rheanne Lugg (wrist), Dayna Cox

Can you believe it… two feel good stories are about to collide in the final game of the round.

On one hand, the St Kilda Sharks’ cult hero, Phoebe McWilliams is leading the league goal kicking tally, bagging 6 goals so far for the Giants.

On the other hand… ERIN FRICKIN’ PHILLIPS!

I know for many years, most of us have been in awe of Daisy Pearce, but it’s time to face the facts. Right now, Erin Phillips is the best women’s Aussie Rules footballer on the planet.

To single handily, while at only 65% fitness due to a quad injury, collect 15 disposals, snag four goals and drag your side back into the premiership race, words fail me to even think of how to describe her performance.

Belief is a beautiful thing, and Phillips has shot some of that back into her Crows side and their supporters.

However, there is a hiccup. Dayna Cox, third for most disposals amongst the Crows, is missing this week through suspension.

The likes of Chelsea Randall, Ruth Wallace and Ebony “I tackle anything that moves” Marinoff will have their work cut out for them this Sunday.

Giants know they’ll need to stop include Alicia Eva who has taken her game to another level since crossing over from Collingwood, and Courtney Gum, who chose to nominate for the NSW draft pool despite living in SA. That one could really come back to bite the Crows on the backside.

While GWS have the right players to put up a defence against the Crows forward line, whether Adelaide choose Phillips or Perkins to stay in the goal square, the Crows backline looks like it might struggle to contain an in-form Giants duo of McWilliams and Jacinda Barclay.

Prediction: GWS by 9 points.

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