The 2021 AFLW season is finally upon us! The conference system has been scrapped, with all fourteen teams battling to finish inside the top six. With the pandemic bringing an early close to the 2020 season, there will be plenty of teams with a point to prove. We have previews and betting tips for all seven games below!
Thursday January 28, 7:15pm
A blockbuster clash to kick off season 2021 at Ikon Park between two arch rivals. The Pies were the big improvers of last season making their first ever finals appearance, whilst Carlton were genuine premiership contenders, qualifying for the prelim final after losing just one game in the home and away season. The recruitment of former demon Elise O’Dea adds to the most stacked midfield in the competition, led by the 2020 AFLW best and fairest, Maddy Prespakis. The Pies young side showed plenty of promise in 2020 especially forward of centre, with Chloe Molloy to spend more time forward this season, the Pies forward line gets even more dangerous. The Blues led the head to head battle 3-1 and their star studded midfield is going to be too much for the Pies to handle. It’ll be a tough battle, but the Blues will be too good in the season opener.
Friday January 29, 7:45pm
The Saints host the Western Bulldogs on Friday night at Moorabbin in a clash between two sides that missed the finals in 2020. The Saints were competitive in their first season in the AFLW with a young core led by young star Georgia Patrikios and league leading goal kicker Caitlin Grieser. With a season under their belt, the Saints should be pushing towards finals contention in 2021. After winning their first game of the season in 2020, the Bulldogs finished with five straight losses, with some heavy losses to end the season. The Bulldogs defence struggled last season, conceding the third most points of any side in the competition. Rising Star winner Isabel Huntington has given Dogs supporters something to get excited about, however the Dogs look like they are set for another tough year in 2021. The Saints shouldn’t have too many issues getting past the Bulldogs.
Saturday January 30, 3:10pm
The Gold Coast Suns were the surprise package in season 2020, making the finals in their first season in the competition. They kick off their season against the Demons at Metricon Stadium. The Dees have gone through a firesale during the off season in an attempt to rebuild on the fly, trading away Elise O'Dea and Maddy Guerin, Katherine Smith, Bianca Jakobsson, Aliesha Newman and Harriet Cordner for draft capital. Whilst it may work in the long run, there’s no doubt that it’s going to have some serious impact this season. The loss of Elise O’Dea to premiership contenders Carlton is a massive loss, but the continuity that the Demons have built over the past has been sacrificed in the trade period. The Suns were unbeaten at Metricon Stadium last season and thrived on their gritty defence that stood up so well last season. The Suns are primed to cause an early upset to start the season.
Saturday January 30, 5:10pm
The Eagles had a tough inaugural season in 2020, winning just one game as they finished on the bottom of conference B. They begin their season at home against the Crows, who will be looking to surge back up the ladder with a healthy list in 2021. Injuries to co-captains Chelsea Randall and Erin Phillips derailed a season that showed plenty of promise early. With a clean bill of health coming into the season, the Crows look well positioned to be back contending for the premiership. The Eagles struggled offensively last season, as they were the lowest scoring team in the league, averaging under two goals per game. The Eagles also found it difficult to get their hands on the footy, ranking second last in the competition for disposals. There looks to be more pain ahead for West Coast this season and with the Crows looking to prove a point early in the season, expect a big win for the Crows.
Sunday January 31, 12:10pm
Football returns to the cattery on Sunday afternoon as the Cats host North Melbourne at GMHBA Stadium. The Cats missed the finals in 2020 after finishing with a 2-4 record, whilst the Roos were looking set for a grand final appearance after a dominant season which saw them qualify for the preliminary final. All Australian Jess Duffin returns to strengthen an already impressive North Melbourne backline, whilst the Roos retained nearly the entirety of their best 21 from last season. This continuity should have the Roos contending for the premiership once again. The Cats were good in attack last season, ranking sixth for goals per game, however they struggled to defend against most sides in the competition last season. With the talent in the North Melbourne’s side they’re set to be one of the best teams in the comp, whilst the Cats are in a development phase with their young list. This will be a comfortable win for the Roos.
Sunday January 31, 2:10pm
The Tigers host the Lions at home to kick off their second season in the AFLW, still looking for their first win after an 0-6 campaign in 2020. The Lions young side started 2020 on fire with three wins and a draw from the first four rounds, before sizeable losses in their last three games as they knocked out in the first week of the finals. The Tigers were the second lowest scoring team in the league last season, and ranked last for disposals. The recruitment of former Collingwood forward Sarah D’Arcy will help add some more firepower to the Tigers forwardline, however the Tigers are still a long way off competing with the better teams in the competition. The Lions will be in a tight battle to make the finals with conferences being scrapped, so early wins will be crucial. With an opportunity against last year’s wooden spooners, expect the Lions to come out firing to begin the season.
Sunday January 31, 4:10pm
Round one closes with a blockbuster match between the Dockers and the Giants. The Dockers were dominant in 2020 finishing the home and away season 6-0 to finish first in conference B, whilst the Giants had an impressive record of 4-2 to finish second in conference A. Fremantle will be on a mission after the cancellation of last season prevented a likely premiership for the Dockers. Fremantle were the highest scoring team averaging 7.4 goals per game, along with their offence the Dockers were one of the league's best defences. The Dockers were ranked number one for tackles on the back of Kiara Bowers record breaking season, racking up a massive 99 tackles in seven games. The Giants have kept the majority of their side together, and have the potential to once again make the finals. However the Giants don’t have the attacking firepower that the other top sides possess, which is going to hurt them in the long run. This is set to be a cracking match, however the Dockers have too much depth for the Giants to cope with.
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