As COVID_19 puts the sporting world into a frenzy, the AFLW has cut the last two rounds of the home and away season, and changed the finals to an eight team format beginning this weekend. There are no second chances, meaning whoever is crowned premiers will have had to win three consecutive matches. The first-placed side in each conference will play the fourth-placed side in the opposing conference. The remaining two semi-finals are also cross conference matches, with the second placed side taking on the third placed side in the opposing conference. With every team’s season on the line, expect some incredible action. We have a full preview and tips here.
Saturday 21st March, Ikon Park, 12:40pm AEDT
North Melbourne came into the season as premiership favourites and since a loss in round one, the Roos have been utterly dominant since with five consecutive wins to finish on top of conference A. Collingwood come into the finals as a beneficiary of the changed finals format, as they finished fourth in conference B. The Pies have struggled for consistency this year starting with a two game win streak, followed by a three game losing streak, then followed by a two game winning streak. However the Pies victory against Brisbane away from home last week will give the Pies plenty of confidence going into this weekend. Bri Davey led the way with 22 disposals whilst Jaimee Lambert (16 and six tackles) and Steph Chiocci (18 disposals) were amongst the best for the Pies. North dominated the second half last week against the Cats, kicking eight goals to none to round out a 41 point victory. Ash Riddell (23 disposals), Emma Kearny (22 disposals) and Jenna Bruton (21 disposals and 7 Tackles) dominated the midfield battle and their physical style will cause the Pies plenty of headaches this weekend. Collingwood must win the midfield battle if they are any chance to win this match, as the Kangaroos are much stronger at each end of the ground. The Kangaroos are deservedly red hot favourites and shouldn’t have too many troubles getting past Collingwood, especially giving the scoring power North have shown over the past month with scores of 76, 47, 63 and 66.
Saturday 21st March, Giants Stadium, 2:40pm AEDT
Melbourne travel to Sydney to take on the Giants in a tantalizing clash at Giants Stadium. Both sides finished with 4-2 records, with the Giants taking in big momentum after a tough victory over the Crows. Whilst there are many questions over the Dees after a 16 point loss to Carlton in Alice Springs. Karen Paxman once again starred with 27 disposals, however the Dees inability to convert inside fifties to goals has cost them dearly in both their losses this season. Melbourne’s key to winning this game will be whether or not they can stop Giants gun Alyce Parker. Parker racked up 30 disposals in last week’s win over the Crows, however the Lions provided a blueprint back in round four as Parker was kept to just eleven disposals as the Lions convincingly beat the Giants. Can the Demons find a Parker stopper? The Demons will like their matchups on the defensive side as Libby Burch and Daisy Pearce have led one of the league’s best backlines this season. The Giants have only averaged 29 points per game this season, whilst the Demons have only conceded an average of 20 points a game. Although the Demons are on the road, their brand of football will stand up come finals time. With the inexperience the Giants possess, the intensity of finals footy could overwhelm them. The Demons backline will lead them to a tough victory in a low scoring affair.
Saturday 21st March, Fremantle Oval, 4:40pm AEDT
The Suns travel to Fremantle Oval with hopes to continue their fairytale debut season against the undefeated Dockers. Fremantle have been superb all year, with a perfect 6-0 record highlighted by wins against Brisbane and Collingwood. Fremantle’s ruthless high pressure brand of footy has overwhelmed their opponents week after week. Kiara Bowers has embodied this brand as she broke her own record for the most tackles in an AFLW home and away season, with 85 tackles so far after six games in 2020. Like Collingwood, the Suns benefitted from the extra finals spot after finishing fourth in conference A. The Suns win over West Coast last week ultimately secured their spot in the finals as Kalinda Howarth was the difference, kicking four goals. Fremantle kicked four goals to one in the final quarter to secure a fifteen point win, Ebony Antonio was the star with 19 disposals. This will be the most one sided affair in week one of the finals, Fremantle are firing on all cylinders and Fremantle Oval has been a fortress for the Dockers across the last two seasons. Expect Bowers and the Dockers midfield group to suffocate the Suns. The Dockers won’t have any troubles against the Suns as they continue their march towards the grand final.
Sunday 22nd March, Ikon Park, 1:10pm AEDT
Week one of the AFLW finals concludes with the most intriguing match of the weekend as the Lions travel to Ikon Park to take on the Blues. These two sides have had different seasons. The Lions sat atop of conference A without a loss until round five, then lost to the Dockers and Magpies in consecutive weeks to drop to third spot in conference A. Whilst Carlton have won four games on the trot after impressive wins over the Crows and Demons in the last three weeks. Carlton’s midfield group continued their impressive form in round 6 led by Madison Prespakis (23 disposals, one goal) Lucy McEvoy (19 disposals). Carlton’s season has gained plenty of momentum in the last few weeks as their forward line is finally starting to fire, with Tayla Harris and Darcy Vescio playing some strong footy. Brisbane on the other hand, has lost all momentum in a season that looked so promising just two weeks ago. Rheanne Lugg played a lone hand for the Lions with 19 disposals, who have massive concerns over the attacking side of their game, kicking just six goals combined in their past two games. The Lions success early in the season was built behind attacking ball movement that has been nowhere to be seen across the past two weeks. With plenty of momentum, as well as playing a home final, everything is set up for the Blues to succeed. With the Lions midfield struggling at the worst possible time, the Blues will be extremely confident heading into the semi final. Carlton will put an end to a Brisbane season that promised so much, but ultimately delivered little.
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