Meg Saultry previews Round 7 of the Swisse Wellness VFL Women’s season, which sees two teams travel to Gippsland and another two fight for their first win of 2019.
CLICK HERE for the Round 7 TEAMS
GEELONG vs CASEY DEMONS – Saturday 11.30am @ GMHBA Stadium
* Watch live via vfl.com.au VIDEO STREAM and listen live on GOFOOTY.LIVE or CASEY RADIO 97.7FM.
Geelong (11th, 1-4) haven’t won a match since Round 2, having played the Top 3 teams in Collingwood, Western Bulldogs and Richmond in the past three rounds and lost. Casey Demons (5th, 3-2) are looking to break a two-match losing streak of their own, going down to Southern Saints (11 points) and Collingwood (four) in Round 4 and 5 respectively. Both teams will have fresh legs though, having just come off a bye.
Which team’s forward line will rule the other? Both Geelong and Casey rank quite closely when it comes to the amount of inside 50s and goals per game, though Casey look more efficient with their ball use. Geelong have the fire power in their forward 50 with Richelle Cranston, while the Cats will want to closely watch Demon Maddy Guerin who has kicked seven of the Dees’ 25 goals this season.
The combination of Bridie Winbanks and Eden Zanker in Casey’s ruck continues to do wonders for the Demons this season. Both are in the top 10 of the competition for hitouts, while Casey ranks number one for hitouts to advantage, meaning the Demons midfield – which boasts players like Harriet Cordner and Maddy Guerin – will have first use of the football.
COLLINGWOOD vs WESTERN BULLDOGS – Saturday 11.30am @ Morwell Recreation Reserve
Collingwood (1st, 5-1) continue to go from strength to strength after their Round 1 loss to Southern Saints, having won their last five games in a row – including last round’s 78-point defeat of the Darebin Falcons. Western Bulldogs (3rd, 4-1) suffered their first loss last week, defeated by 16 points by a wilful Carlton outfit.
Does Western Bulldogs have the fire power to match Collingwood? The Bulldogs just couldn’t score last round. The Dogs had 34 inside-50s for five scores compared to Carlton who had 30 inside-50s for a return of 11 scores. The work of Ellie Blackburn (26 disposals, eight inside-50s) and Kirsty Lamb (25, five) pushed the ball forward for no reward, but with no Blackburn this week, the Dogs can’t be complacent. In what will be welcome news to the Dogs, Collingwood will be without star forward Chloe Molloy, who kicked five goals for the Pies last round.
Collingwood AFLW player Sharni Layton will look to gain some form at VFLW level after lining up for her first match last week. The former netballer had 18 disposals, 12 hitouts and five clearances to feature in the VFLW team of the week. Though Layton looked overwhelmed at AFLW standard at the start of the year, she grew into her role as each game passed. A number of matches at VFLW level should further consolidate Layton’s development before AFLW 2020.
HAWTHORN vs SOUTHERN SAINTS – Saturday 11.50am @ Box Hill City Oval
* Listen live on 3WBC 94.1FM.
After a tough start to the season saw them go 0-2, Hawthorn (7th, 3-2) are back on track with three comfortable wins over lower sides the Darebin Falcons, Williamstown and Essendon in recent weeks. Southern Saints (4th, 4-1) solidified their place in the Top 4 with a 28-point win over Melbourne Uni last round, following wins over Carlton and the Casey Demons.
Can Southern Saints size up against Hawthorn? When the two teams matched up last year, the Hawks were able to physically dominate a young Saints outfit. But the Saints have looked a sharper team this year on form alone, so they are in a much better position to stand up to the Hawks. The Saints rank first in the competition for contested possessions and marks, but will need to be on top of their game against the likes of Hawthorn ball-winners Chantella Perera (10 contested possessions last round), Rosie Dillon (13) and Pip Peschke (10).
Saints recruit Tilly Lucas-Rodd made her 50-game milestone last round one to remember. The former Carlton player had her best game for the Saints with a team-high 27 disposals, four clearances and three inside-50s in the Saints’ win over the Mugars.
DAREBIN FALCONS vs WILLIAMSTOWN – Saturday 2pm @ Bill Lawry Oval
* Listen live on Women’s Australian Rules Football Radio via RSN Carnival 2.
Darebin Falcons (13th, 0-5) have looked overwhelmed at times this season and suffered a 78-point loss to Collingwood last round. While Williamstown (12th, 0-4) have looked more competitive in recent weeks – a nine-point loss to Hawthorn and 11-point loss to Melbourne Uni – they too are still looking for their own drought-breaking win.
Which club will win their first match? Both Darebin and Williamstown are still to win a game this season, and while Williamstown look closer to a win given their tighter margins in games, the Falcons have gone inside 50 more often and kicked more goals than the Seagulls this season. The confirmed omissions of Jamie Stanton and Lauren Arnell won’t help the Falcons’ cause, though ruck Lauren Pearce will be instrumental in setting her side up for the win and will be amply supported by Reni Hicks. For Williamstown, it’ll be experienced AFLW player Aliesha Newman along with Moana Hope and Sharnie Whiting in the forward line who will need to lead a young Seagulls line-up.
For a team that was well beaten on the scoreboard against Collingwood last round, Darebin will need to do the little things right if they are to be competitive in matches. The Falcons only had nine more tackles than the Pies in a 78-point loss and recorded four fewer one-percenters.
NT THUNDER vs ESSENDON – Saturday 4pm @ TIO Stadium, Darwin
* Watch live via Thunder TV VIDEO STREAM.
An inconsistent NT Thunder (8th, 3-2) will be hoping to rebound from a 21-point loss to Richmond on home soil last round. After their first win in Round 4, Essendon (9th, 1-4) failed to replicate that form after their bye, falling to Hawthorn by 36 points in Round 6.
What can NT Thunder do to return to the winners’ list? In the Thunder’s loss to Richmond last round, the home team went inside 50 10 more times than Richmond, but the Tigers’ defensive line was able to rebound more easily. More defensive pressure from the Thunder won’t go astray against the Bombers this week, along with more accurate goalkicking – though playing their first back-to-back games in the Northern Territory will no doubt help the Thunder team recover and prepare well for the clash.
Hayley Bullas has continued to star in the Bombers midfield this season after a stellar first VFLW season last year. The joint vice-captain is first in clearances and third in contested possessions and hard-ball gets in the competition this season and should be in serious consideration come AFLW Draft time later this year.
* ROUND 7 BYE: Carlton, Richmond and Melbourne Uni