AFL Women's

AFLW – Round 6 Preview: Lions look to stay unbeaten

We are very much into the business end of the season and three sides remain in the hunt for the inaugural AFL Womens premiership. Last week was a nail-biting affair with all four games being within five points at the final siren.

A top of the table clash last weekend between Adelaide and Brisbane – that no one would have seen coming at the beginning of the season – leaves the Lions a game clear at the top, and the Crows remain ahead of third-placed Carlton. Both of these sides will be keen to get another four points to ensure the Blues don’t get a sniff.

This weekend, two stadiums host their first official AFLW match – surprisingly, one of these is a home ground of one team. Collingwood will play their first game at Olympic Park against the Giants, with their first two home games having been moved to Ikon Park for capacity reasons. Further north, Adelaide host Melbourne at their ‘home ground’ in Darwin, where half the Crows side trained together in the lead-up of the competition.

Even with five sides completely out of contention for a Grand Final birth, the quality and effort should remain at the high standard we have seen it throughout the competition, and expect to see some close contests this weekend.

Fremantle v Carlton, Domain Stadium, 6:05pm AEDT, Friday March 10

Fremantle play their first game at Domain Stadium on Friday, facing off against the Blues at the questionable timeslot of 3:05pm in Western Australia. Unfortunately, the AFL has scheduled this before the men’s JLT match as well, with this and the unfriendly time of the match being a bit of a spit in the face for the AFLW. Sitting in last place on the ladder, the home side will be playing for their first win in the competition – a result no expert predicted at the beginning of the season.

On the other side of the ledger, Carlton are just a game out of the top two and will be extremely disappointed if they fail to get the chocolates in this encounter. The Blues need two wins from their last two games and Adelaide to lose at least one to reach the inaugural AFLW Grand Final. A loss for the Blues will almost secure a Brisbane vs Adelaide Grand Final.

Both teams are coming off nail-biting finishes, with the Blues just holding on and the Dockers nearly pinching their first win.

Privitelli and ferocious tackler Nat Exon make way for Kennedy and Ivy for the Blues while Golisano and Cain are in for Devlyn and Chuot for the Dockers.

Carlton really should take this one out BUT we didn’t think GWS had a hope against Melbourne last week. The Blues are on the road and Brianna Davey remains under an injury cloud, despite pulling off a brave effort last weekend.

Brisbane v Western Bulldogs, South Pine Sports Complex, 11:05 am AEDT, Saturday March 11

The Western Bulldogs play interstate for the first time in the AFLW when they come up against the top-of-the-table Lions on Saturday morning. The Lions will be hoping they don’t wake up on the wrong side of the pillow for this early encounter, as a loss in this match may cost them a home Grand Final.

Brisbane had their greatest triumph of the season last Saturday night claiming an inspirational three-point victory over the Adelaide Crows – and that is saying a lot considering they have been the surprise packet of 2017.

The Bulldogs will be playing for pride once again but winning is still important to them, evidenced by the fourth quarter fightback last week when all hope seemed lost.

If Emma Kearney and Ellie Blackburn – the latter who was outstanding last weekend – get on top in the middle of the ground, they may spoil the party for Brisbane. However, it will remain to be seen how they fare in their first match outside of Victoria.

Brisbane are not exactly heralded for their midfield brigade besides the outstanding work of captain Emma Zielke, but should have the advantage in the tall department with youngsters Sabrina Frederick-Traub and Tayla Harris – moreso considering defender Aasta O’Connor is out with injury.

For the Lions, Campbell makes way for rookie Kate Deegan and a host of outs for the Bulldogs sees Moorecroft, Timmins, Williams and the injured O’Connor on the sidelines, replaced by Gamble, Gardner, McLeod and Neaves.

As they say, Brisbane are ‘due for a loss’, so the Bulldogs are certainly in with a chance. It will be difficult without marquee signing Katie Brennan, though, who has been ruled out for the season with injury.

Adelaide v Melbourne, TIO Stadium, 7:10 pm AEDT, Saturday March 11

Footy travels to the Northern Territory on Saturday afternoon with the Adelaide Crows hosting the Demons at TIO Stadium.

This will be the first time the half NT/half Adelaide lineup play at their ‘home and away from home’ in the season proper, so it will be interesting to see how well adapted the Crows are to the conditions.

Melbourne’s finals hopes were dashed last weekend after a disappointing loss to the struggling Giants in an ugly affair at Blacktown. The Daisy Pearce-led Demons will be intent to get back on the winners list, but defeating the Crows interstate is a tough ask.

The match looms as a ripping contest with midfield stalwarts Pearce and Paxman coming up against Crows’ skipper Erin Phillips and young gun Ebony Marinoff. Don’t expect the Demons to take a backward step just because they are out of finals, though, as Melbourne will be intent to redeem themselves for last week’s slip up.

The Crows have brought in Killian and Thorn for Hollick and Mules, and the Dees have replaced tall forward Jessie Anderson and Sarah Jolly with Scott and Strachan.

This is a real danger game for Crows as a loss and a Carlton win over the Dockers will leave only percentage between the two sides for second place.

You would hazard a guess that Adelaide will win but as we have seen throughout the season, the AFLW is very unpredictable.

Collingwood v GWS, Olympic Park, 11:05 am AEDT, Sunday March 12

The round ends with a meaningless dead rubber against fifth and sixth – not exactly the best way to end the weekend of AFLW footy…

This is the unfortunate downfall with the eight round and a final two system currently in place, with some matches at the end of the year being irrelevant in the scheme of things.

Funnily enough, this is the first time the Pies have played at Olympic Park during the AFLW season, and they will be keen to snag a win at their traditional home ground. The Giants are coming off an eight-day break after their encouraging first win in gruelling conditions at Blacktown.

Moana Hope managed to hit the scoreboard last weekend but if the Giants can shut her down – as just about every side has this season, admittedly – they will be every chance to clinch another upset victory. Jess Del Pos played her best game for the season last weekend in a match-winning effort and marquee signing Emma Swanston continues to go about her business.

The Pies have named an unchanged the lineup and for the Giants, exciting forward Hannah Wallett comes in for Kate Stanton.

Collingwood could make it three wins on the trot after their underwhelming start to the AFLW that ultimately left them out of contention by Round 3.

For entertainment’s sake, we will call this the ‘Battle for 5th’, with the winner of this claiming fifth spot on the AFLW ladder.

The Pies should win this on their home deck but both sides are extremely difficult to read. A draw, perhaps?

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