IT is an exciting time in women’s football, with a new-look VFL Women’s competition and the penultimate week of TAC Cup Girls football being played in the same weekend. In this article, we will focus on round one of the VFL Women’s competition, which is full of unpredictable results.
SOUTHERN SAINTS VS CARLTON
Saturday 11.15am at Skybus Stadium
While both teams are new in the competition, the Southern Saints are the less experienced side, with the Blues including 10 AFLW players in their line-up.
However, the Saints have acquired the expertise of St Kilda development coach, Peta Searle. Searle has a brilliant footy mind and could be a beneficial role model to the new VFL Women’s team. The side’s inaugural captain, Georgia Walker would be raring to go, having tasted AFLW before. Walker is a former Collingwood player and was the club’s first signing. Although the AFLW experience isn’t there, the new side could use their home ground to their advantage and really take it up to the Blues.
It may sound like a difficult task for the Southern Saints, but the Blues did finish eighth in the AFLW competition this year. However, this may motivate Carlton’s 10 AFLW players to make amends for it in their first taste of VFL Women’s. The Blues are not taking the first game lightly, putting captain, Sarah Hosking and the ever-improving Maddison Gay in the midfield. 2017 AFLW leading goal-kicker, Darcy Vescio is starting in the forward pocket, and would be keen to get some early majors on the board. Away from the AFLW talent, the Blues have named Rugby 7s World Series Representative, Brooke Walker in their round one side. Walker could be an aggressive asset in Carlton’s back line.
DAREBIN FALCONS VS NT THUNDER
Saturday 12pm at Preston City Oval
The Darebin Falcons come into the VFL Women’s competition as the team to beat after five straight premierships. But the Northern Territory (NT) Thunder have called on some well-known stars to help its sides chances this season.
Melbourne’s Maddy Guerin will be the only AFLW player suiting up for the Darebin Falcons on Saturday but she will definitely be complemented by some fantastic up and coming talent. One player that we haven’t seen in Victoria as of yet is Ainslie’s Hannah Mouncey, who is one of the most well-known female footballers. Mouncey will start at full-forward at Preston City Oval where she will be hoping to get off to a good start at her new club.
The Thunder have stacked their midfield for the round one clash, all too aware of the dominance that the Falcons have in this competition. Adelaide stars, Chelsea Randall, Eloise Jones and Deni Vernahagen will start on the centre line, in what is a new position for Jones, who spent her first year at Adelaide in the forward line. Meanwhile Crows sisters, Jess and Sarah Allan will start in the ruck and defence, respectively, in what could be a dominant start to the season for the NT side.
COLLINGWOOD VS WILLIAMSTOWN
Saturday 2.30pm at Warrawee Park
There will be a few Collingwood players going head-to-head in round one, as some players have elected to join Williamstown for the VFL Women’s season.
Former Calder Cannon, Sarah Dargan will start at half-back for the Magpies, after being accustomed to running around in the midfield during her first AFLW season. Former marquee player, Emma Grant will start at half-forward, where she will undoubtedly provide great experience and leadership. While Chloe Molloy won’t be in action for round one, Sarah D’Arcy will provide a pillar of strength at half-back in her place, hoping to nullify one of her AFLW teammates.
Jasmine Garner will start at full-forward for the Seagulls, where she began her solid AFLW career. Garner has had stints in both the forward line and in defence for the Pies, but in blue and yellow, she will be looking to kick some majors to kick-start her side’s season. Garner could have the ball delivered by her to Collingwood teammate, Jess Duffin, who is set to try her hand in the midfield after having a solid season in defence for the Pies. She will be assisted by Bulldogs premiership player, Jenna Bruton, who will also look to have an impact in the middle of the ground.
WESTERN BULLDOGS VS RICHMOND
Saturday 4pm at VU Whitten Oval
The Western Bulldogs have not included many of their AFLW players but would still keen to show off their young talent against the Tigers.
Kirsty McLeod and Hayley Wildes will both play in the forward line for the Dogs while experienced Spur, Sarah Jolly will play in the midfield. She will be joined by West Brunswick’s Erin McLaughlin, who will play in the ruck as well as Spurs teammate, Emma Mackay, who will play on the wing. In fact, the Bulldogs have recruited plenty of talent from the VU Western Spurs, who will all be key players to watch over the season.
The Tigers have gone one less than the Bulldogs, including none of their AFLW recruits in their round one side. However they have included Bendigo recruit, Jessica Kennedy in the midfield, who will be someone to keep an eye out for. Kennedy is the inaugural captain of the side and will be able to assist co vice-captains, Elise Hogan and Kate Dixon, who will both start on half-forward flanks. Hogan and Kennedy are both from Bendigo Thunder and could work in tandem to deliver the Tigers an historic win.
GEELONG VS MELBOURNE UNI
Saturday 12.30pm at GMHBA Stadium
While plenty of AFLW players have decided to play for their respected sides in the VFL Women’s competition, Melbourne Uni still has a potent line-up to match the Cats’ fire-power.
Geelong forward, Kate Darby has been in fine pre-season form, coming off a six-goal match and being one of two goal-kickers in the Cats’ practice match against the AFLW Academy. Someone who is used to playing forward is Melbourne AFLW star, Richelle Cranston. Cranston will line up for the Cats in the midfield on Saturday, and will be able to showcase her immense power through the middle of the ground. She will be joined by new recruit, Mia-Rae Clifford, who has also been in good pre-season form. Clifford was formerly on Melbourne’s AFLW list and would be keen to reach that peak again for the Cats.
In the Melbourne Uni forward line will be former Diamond Creek forward, Sophie Abbatangelo, who was a consistent player in 2017 and tested well in the AFLW Draft Combine. Although they are both starting on the bench, AFLW Best and Fairest, Emma Kearney and former Bendigo Pioneers talented midfielder, Aisling Tupper will be key cogs through the middle of the ground on Saturday. Kearney in particular would be hoping to continue her stellar AFLW season into the VFL Women’s season against a formidable Geelong outfit in round one.
ESSENDON VS HAWTHORN
Sunday 1pm at Windy Hill
While the men battle it out on the MCG, the women will hope to establish a new rivalry at Essendon’s spiritual ground, Windy Hill.
Inaugural captain, Lisa Williams will start in the midfield for the Bombers. She will be assisted by fellow former Diamond Creek players, Hayley Bullas and Tait Mackrill, who will hope to nullify Hawthorn’s influence. Although current AFLW player, Tanya Hetherington is not in the side, a former Bulldogs player in Lauren Morecroft will be taking her place in round one, lining up at full-back to match up against one of the AFLW’s leading forwards.
Greater Western Sydney (GWS) forward, Phoebe McWilliams and Adelaide 2017 All-Australian, Sarah Perkins will combine inside 50 in round one for the Hawks. In defence, experienced campaigner, Meg Hutchins will look to hold up the fort, as she did throughout her time at Collingwood. The midfield is stacked with talent, as captain, Emma Mackie will line up next to Collingwood’s Melissa Kuys and former Eastern Ranges talent, Olivia Flanagan.