The first two rounds of the AFLW season has provided plenty, with upsets galore. The Lions have shocked many to lead conference A as the only undefeated team in the conference. While Fremantle, Collingwood and Melbourne are all 2-0 in a tight conference B. Round three is upon us and here’s our full preview and tips.
Friday 21st February, RSEA Park 7:10pm AEDT
The Demons travel to Moorabin with a perfect record after a round one upset over premiership favourites North Melbourne, and a convincing victory over the Bulldogs in round two. The Demons have overcome a plethora of injuries to register two quality wins led by Libby Burch who was rock solid down back last week keeping the Bulldogs to just two goals. Daisy Pearce has again shown why she is the league’s best player, with a classy 15 disposal outing off half back in wet conditions. The Saints currently sit second last in conference B with an 0-2 record, however the Saints gave reigning premiers Adelaide an almighty fright as the lead nearly all game, only to be overran in the final minutes. Georgia Patrikios followed up her round one Rising Star nomination with an 18 disposal effort that nearly dragged the Saints to an upset victory. The Demons have had a ruthless defence that has conceded just five goals in the opening two matches, and the Dees outside mids have ran their opponents off their feet. Daisy Pearce’s move to half back has been a masterstroke, as she has completely controlled the first two matches. The Demons will be too strong for the Saints, as they continue to push their case for premiership contention early in the season.
Saturday 22nd February, Victoria University Whitten Oval 3:10pm AEDT
This is a massive conference B clash as both the Dogs and Blues come into the fixture at 1-1. The Blues were upset by the Pies in a 15 point loss at home on Sunday, whilst the Dogs posed no threat to the Demons in a 20 point loss that should have been more, but the Dees inaccuracy made the scoreboard respectable for the Dogs. With the Dockers, Pies and Dees breaking a game away in the top three of conference B, this is a must win for both teams to remain in the hunt for finals. Carlton’s inefficiency inside forward 50 has been an issue in their opening two games, the Blues won the inside fifty count against Collingwood but could only manage 3 goals. In round one the Blues kicked 6 goals 12 behinds, the Blues can’t afford to continue to be inefficient if they want to challenge for a premiership. The Dogs lack of outside class was apparent in their loss to the Demons in round 2. Ellie Blackburn and Kirsty Lamb were superb on the inside, but the Dogs lack of speed and efficient ball use on the outside was shown as they were dominated on the outside. Don’t expect a forward line featuring Tayla Harris, Nicola Stevens and Darcy Vescio to struggle for a second week in a row. With an in form midfield led by Jess Hosking, Madison Prespakis and Lucy McEvoy, Carlton will bounce back and get a crucial win that will shape the conference B standings.
Saturday 22nd February, Metricon Stadium 5:10pm AEDT
The first ‘Q Clash’ in the history of the AFLW features the first and third placed sides in conference A. After winning just two games in 2019 the Lions look set for a rebuild, but the Lions have shocked the league with wins over the reigning premiers Adelaide and a gutsy win on the road against Geelong. After a one point loss in round one to the Giants, the Suns scored an impressive win over the Tigers in round two to jump into third place in conference A. The Lions struggled to put together winning scores in 2019, but that has been no issue this season with Jess Wardlaw announcing herself to the competition with three goals against Geelong. The Lions attacking improvement has come from a midfield that has placed a clear emphasis on quick ball movement. Emily Bates (22 disposals) and Sophie Conway (15 disposals) lead a stunning second half comeback which saw the Lions kick five goals to none in the second half. An inspirational performance from Jamie Stanton led the Suns to their first victory, Stanton played through an arm injury whilst collecting 20 disposals and a goal. Kate Surman was influential up forward, kicking two goals and providing the Suns with a strong aerial presence. The Suns defence held strong as they won the tackle count by 20, the Suns are averaging 77 tackles over the first two weeks of season. They also were willing to use the corridor on the counter attack which is something the Lions will need to be careful of. Two very contrasting styles in this match as the high pace, free flowing Lions battle the defensively strong, counter attacking Suns. This game is going to be won and lost in the midfield. The Lions midfielders have been a force in their first two matches and they match up well against the Suns. The Lions will have too much firepower for the Suns and will move to a perfect 3-0.
Saturday 22nd February, Fremantle Oval 7:10 AEDT
There was plenty of hype surrounding the Dockers in pre-season and they most certainly have lived up to the hype, with two wins from two games and a league best percentage of 241.9. After a round one victory against the Cats, the Dockers thrashed the Eagles by 45 points in the first AFLW’s Western Derby. Collingwood sit just under the Dockers in conference B with a perfect record and a percentage of 22. The Pies pulled off an upset fifteen point win against arch rivals Carlton. Collingwood’s early success has come from a dominant midfield led by Jaimee Lambert and Brittany Bonnici 21 disposals and 17 disposals respectively against the Blues. This game will be a massive shaping match for conference B, with the Demons likely to remain unbeaten, it’s crucial for both teams to remain ahead of the pack chasing. Early season wins for the Dockers are crucial given their home heavy schedule in the first half of the season. Both sides have shown this season that they have no trouble moving the ball and kicking winning scores, however the Dockers have a slight advantage at the defensive end of the ground, which will be crucial in this game. Home ground advantage has been crucial across the history of the AFLW and since the beginning of 2019, Fremantle are 5-0 at home. The Dockers will get over the line in one of the games of the season.
Sunday 23rd February, Blacktown International Sports Park 1:10pm AEDT
The Giants host the Eagles with a chance to get back into the top three in conference A after a disappointing loss against North Melbourne. West Coast have had a tough introduction into the AFLW, with a 27 point loss in round one to Collingwood and a 45 point loss to the Dockers in round two. The most concerning aspect for the Eagles so far has been their inability to score, the Eagles have only registered three goals so far this season. The Giants had more scoring shots than North, but were inefficient in front of goal against the Kangaroos kicking 2.7. The Giants showed they can compete with the best in the league, but they still lack a forward line that can kick winning scores. Like the Eagles, the Giants have only kicked three goals this season. This game will be won and lost in the midfield. The Giants have performed well in the contested possessions led by Alicia Eva who had 21 disposals in round two and Alyce Parker who had 16 disposals. Emma Swanson and Dana Hooker will need to produce big games for the Eagles if they are any chance to win this game. Don’t expect a free flowing game between these two sides, this is going to be an old fashioned slog. The experience of the Giants midfield will prevail in a low scoring contest.
Sunday 23rd February, Ikon Park 3:10pm AEDT
It’s a matchup between 2nd place and last place in conference A as Richmond host North Melbourne at Ikon Park. The clash was originally scheduled to take place at Punt Road but was moved due to expected big crowds. The Tigers have disappointed so far in their first season in the AFLW. The Tigers built a list with plenty of big name talent for their inaugural season, but they haven’t delivered after losing to the Blues and the Gold Coast. The Kangaroos were ruthless in attack as they kicked six goals one. After a disappointing round one loss against Melbourne, the Kangaroos key players set the tone early with a positive intent and aggressive ball use. Led by Jasmine Garner (19 disposals, two goals) Emma Kearney (20 disposals), Jenna Bruton (20 disposals) and Ashleigh Riddell (18 disposals). Like many of the expansion sides, the Tigers have failed to kick winning scores, only registering four goals from their first two games. Katie Brennan has struggled to have an influence on games like she did a few years ago with the Bulldogs whilst Monique Conti was a shining light for the Tigers with 17 disposals against the Suns. After a shock loss in round one, the Roos will be ruthless in looking to boost their percentage as they work their way up the ladder. With arguably the most powerful offensive side taking on a side that has struggled to kick goals this season, it could be a bloodbath. North Melbourne will have no issues meeting the line in this fixture.
Sunday 23rd February, GMHBA Stadium 5:10pm AEDT
Round three concludes with a conference A clash as the Crows travel to Geelong to take on the Cats. The reigning premiers picked up their first win after they defeated the Saints at Hisense Stadium in Adelaide. The Cats sit second last in conference B after surrendering 5 unanswered goals in the second half against the Lions in round two. The Cats led by 11 points at half time, but lost by 19 after the second half fade out. The Crows were the opposite as they came back from a three quarter time deficit to beat the Saints. The reigning premiers are relying on their veterans to produce early in the season due to their extensive injury list which includes two time league best and fairest winner Erin Phillips. Ebony Marinoff and Anne Hatchard controlled the midfield, whilst Sarah Allan played arguably her best game of her career, whilst Jess Foley intercept marking was vital late in the game. Although the Crows suffered a shock loss in round one, they just need to be within touching distance of the top three as they start to get their star players back from injury. The Crows know if they can make the finals, they will be hard to beat. The Cats have suffered late fade outs in their first two games this season, as their lack of depth has been exposed late in games. If the Cats are any chance to win, they will need to get off to a fast start. Even with the lack of star power given the injury list they face, the Crows have a cohesive unit that have a proven gameplan and the confidence that they have produced time and time again across the history of the AFL. Being away from home, this could be a danger game for the Crows, but they will find a way to get the job done at the cattery.
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