AFLW preview: Round 6, 2018

Freddie Mercury of Queen sung it best: “Another one bites the dust.”

With the passing of AFLW round five, Collingwood is officially out of the premiership race, while both Carlton and Fremantle are just about gone as well, barring the perfect results landing their way.

The Brisbane Lions are only just clinging onto second spot, but a big win over Collingwood would go a long way to them securing a Grand Final spot. Image: Michael Willson/AFL Media

The Western Bulldogs look all but assured of a Grand Final spot, Brisbane and Melbourne are shaping up as their likely challengers, but the door has been left open ever so slightly for the Giants and the Crows to make a last-minute dash.

As much as Friday night’s and Sunday afternoon’s matches have a final say on the Blues and Dockers’ Grand Final aspirations, it’s Saturday night’s game that is the whole box and dice.

By dumb luck, one of the few games that were scheduled at the start of the season to be on Channel 7’s main channel (in Melbourne and Adelaide) is the Bulldogs and the Giants clash in Canberra.

If the Doggies win, that’s a certain home final; if the Doggies lose, their Grand Final spot begins to look shaky and the Giants could have themselves a virtual Semi-Final against the Lions the following week.

Strap yourselves in folks, this is AFLW round six and it’s all about to get very serious.

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.


Adelaide vs Fremantle
Friday, March 9th @ TIO Stadium – 5:35pm (CST)
TV: 7mate (Adelaide and Perth) and Fox Sports 3
Stream:, AFLW App (Australia) and Watch.AFL (overseas)
Radio: –
Twitter: #AFLWCrowsFreo

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

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

Do you have ‘awareness’ of your quad muscle?

We were all introduced to the term ‘quad awareness’ last week after Erin Phillips left the ground after just a quarter of footy last week. It was her quad that kept her from playing the first two rounds of the season, and it looked like she’d be rule out this week.

However, the Crows have named the reigning AFLW best and fairest, and she’ll make the trip up to Darwin for Friday night’s clash.

For the Dockers, they’ve made two changes for this week, bringing in key defender Tayla Bresland, and the young woman who has had a terrible run of luck with injuries of recent years, Tiah Haynes. Fingers crossed on behalf of the footy public that we finally get to see Haynes at her very best.

The stats suggest these sides will be hard to separate. They are almost identical for disposal efficiency, with Fremantle having more clangers than the Crows, but that’s countered with the best goal kicking accuracy in the league.

Last week in the Dockers’ loss to the Giants, players like Lisa Webb and Evie Gooch seemed to lack any impact like they had in previous weeks, while Alicia Janz was completely out rucked by the Giants’ Erin McKinnon.

The good news for Fremantle might be, that with Phillips most likely to play deep in the forward line to nurse her injury, it’s a slightly weakened Adelaide midfield, and that might leave the door open for the aforementioned Dockers to get back into some red-hot form.

Now although the Crows might not have the star power of Phillips in the engine room all match, the win against the Blues allowed their next level of players to take the step up. Marijana Rajcic, Justine Mules and Ruth Wallace all impressed, and are positives signs for Adelaide going forward.

One question that does pose, is how does the Crows forward structure line up when making space for Erin Phillips, while having the in-form Ruth Wallace and Eloise Jones, plus Sarah Perkins who is having a quiet year in comparison to last year?

When you break it all down, both sides are desperate to keep their Grand Final chances alive, with the Crows sitting in the better position.

That said, in both practice matches played between these two sides in Darwin, the Crows have never gotten even close to beating the Dockers and were done by the Demons on this ground last year. Albeit, Adelaide was not at full strength in both games against the Dockers here, but it does give Fremantle belief they can get the four points.

Prediction: Fremantle by 10 points.


Brisbane vs Collingwood
Saturday, March 10th @ Moreton Bay Central Sports Complex – 3:35pm (AEST)
TV: Fox Footy
Stream:, AFLW App (Australia) and Watch.AFL (overseas)
Radio: –
Twitter: #AFLWLionsPies

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

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

The Magpies’ season has again been one of frustration.

Losing their two best players (from 2017) to trades, trading and drafting well to only then lose a couple of players injuries at the start of the year (Guttridge and Brazill).

The Pies found some form at round three to lose a shoot-out with Giants, then knocked off the fancied Demons, only to blow their Grand Final chances against the Bulldogs, partially through a reversal of a free kick when the hand momentum and a shot on goal with 80 seconds to play.

And now, they’ll finish the season without their captain after Stephanie Chiocci was rubbed out for two weeks after colliding with Libby Birch.

Perhaps with their skipper the Magpies would have given the Lions a scare like they did last year, but we can’t see that happening now.

The Magpies will see cross-coders Ash Brazill (netball) and Georgie Parker (hockey) make their debuts this week. How they fit into the team structure though will be interesting to see, and while they settle in, it might leave the door open for the Lions to take the early jump.

Brisbane heads into the match without Nicole Hildebrand, who had that head clash with Melbourne’s Tegan Cunningham at Casey Fields last week.

Conway, Pittman and Hunt come into the Brisbane team, with coach Craig Starcevich knowing the Lions not only need to win, but an extra bit of percentage is needed to stay ahead of the Demons.

Kate Lutkins is dominating across half-back and will be a handful for the likes of either Bernardi, Garner or D’Arcy. In fact, Lutkins is currently leading the Leesa Catto Media MVP.

Ally Anderson continues to rack up disposals without much media spotlight, which she deserves, while Sabrina Frederick-Traub went into ‘beast mode’ last week, unstoppable with 15 disposals and 3 goals.

If we look again to the Magpies, it will be on the likes of Lambert, Grant and Tesoriero this weekend to all step up and make up for the absence of Chiocci if they are any chance of troubling the Lions.

Prediction: Lions by 16 points.


GWS vs Western Bulldogs
Saturday, March 10th @ UNSW Canberra Oval – 7:10pm (AEDT)
TV: Channel 7 (Melbourne and Adelaide), 7mate (Sydney, Brisbane and Perth) and Fox Footy
Stream:, AFLW App (Australia) and Watch.AFL (overseas)
Radio: –
Twitter: #AFLWGiantsDogs

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

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

Now this is the match-up I’m here for.

The Giants last week put the Dockers away comfortably at Fremantle Oval, while the Bulldogs, although sitting on top the table with a healthy percentage, didn’t beat the Pies with the greatest of ease. The latter being a concern, especially when the Doggies were dominating the Inside 50s count.

Courtney Gum was sublime last week, while Alicia Eva didn’t need to dominate the stats, as she had plenty of support from Ellie Brush, Nicola Barr and Rebecca Beeson.

To see that midfield load carried very evenly, would have Alan McConnell grinning from ear-to-ear.

Further, although she only kicked one goal, Cora Staunton is beginning to look more dangerous, the further she works herself up the flanks. Most AFLW sides fall down across half-forward, but if Staunton can be that important link up player, allowing McWilliams and Barclay to stay deep in the forward line, that makes the Giants even more dangerous.

However, when we talk about dangerous as a matter of fact, the Bulldogs midfield duo of Ellie Blackburn and Emma Kearney are all that and more to every opposing team.

Each week, these Melbourne University footballers can be a lock to deliver 30 disposals between them. Even last week when some though Kearney was “quiet”, she still managed to get 13 possessions.

The Bulldogs’ forward line spread the load last week, with six goal kickers getting on the board, and although that should be good news, they are coming up against a good GWS defence featuring Hetherington, Farrugia, Monahan, Barr, Collier and Swanson.

Looking at the stats, the sides are fairly similar for inside 50s, rebound 50s, centre clearances and goal accuracy, meaning we’re in for a coin-flip of a match on paper.

Add history to the case, where both sides had a hard-fought match in Canberra last year, and we should be in for a classic. The head says tip the Dogs, but I’m going with the heart and hoping for an upset. The Giants for me to win and set up a thrilling final round.

Prediction: GWS by 4 points.


Carlton vs Melbourne
Sunday, March 11th @ Ikon Park – 4:35pm (AEDT)
TV: Fox Footy
Stream:, AFLW App (Australia) and Watch.AFL (overseas)
Radio: ABC Grandstand
Twitter: #AFLWBluesDees

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

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

If you’re a Carlton supporter, you’re begging for this season to end and end quickly.

So much hype surrounded the Blues at the start of the season, and then it all went off the rails.

Add to their woes that Lauren Brazzale and Lauren Arnell are missing through injury, can anyone see a path to victory for the Blues?

As much as the Carlton midfield are bagged, it may shock some to know that the Blues are ranked fifth for inside 50s, with Adelaide, Fremantle and Collingwood placed lower.

What is really stinging in the Blues though is their goal kicking accuracy. 25.5% is nowhere near good enough to even think of challenging for the flag. Put another way, they have kicked 12 goals for the year and 31 BEHINDS!

Further, Carlton’s goal kicking accuracy was around 50% last year, meaning on last year’s percentage, they should be around 22 goals now, not 12. Plus, they lost players who were responsible for kicking a quarter of their goals last year. Bella Ayre (4), Bianca Jakobsson (4) and Bec Privitelli (1) were traded, whilst Jordan Ivey (1) did her knee during the VFLW season.

Whilst they did pick up a forward in Tayla Harris, and she has been racking up the disposals and marks, her goal kicking accuracy is still as it was last year, about 25%.

The Bulldogs learnt the lesson last year. You can have a good midfield, but if you aren’t kicking straight when you’re having a shot inside 50, you’re not going to win many matches.

Melbourne comes into Sunday’s match with a Grand Final spot within its grasp. Like last year, it will come down to the final round to find out if they make it or just miss out and will not be wanting a misstep against the Blues to give them an uphill battle to make second place on the ladder.

The Demons will be without Jakobsson this week, but with the choice of either Meg Downie or Laura Duryea to replace her in defence, it will not sweat Melbourne.

One thing that will be worrying many sides as we get to the business end of the season, is that Daisy Pearce has taken her game up another notch. After being well and truly shut down by Brittany Bonnici the week prior, she took it upon herself to kick a couple of goals early on to jump-start Melbourne’s premiership campaign against Brisbane.

Melissa Hickey slotted in nicely to her old half-back role, Karen Paxman and Elise O’Dea racked up 49 disposals between them… it was the Demons at their devastating best in the midfield.

Whilst the Blues will be thankful to have Jess Hosking and Maddie Keryk back in the engine room, they are coming up against the competition’s Rolls Royce midfield. It’s going to be a tough day at the office for them.

In short, the Blues are limping to the finish line and the Demons have got the fire back in the belly.

Prediction: Melbourne by 25 points.

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