ROUND 11 of the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s season has arrived as we get closer and closer to finals with several teams continuing to jockey for position. The current ladder leaders Hawthorn will enjoy its bye before they continue their quest for a premiership in the back half of the season, the Pies look to continue their undefeated season and the red hot Bulldogs look to continue their recent run of form as they stake their claim for a finals spot, all in a busy round 11.
Williamstown vs Western Bulldogs
Saturday July 21, 11:30am
Williamstown Football Ground, Williamstown
The Bulldogs come into their round 11 encounter in as good of form as anyone in the competition having won their past five matches after beginning the season with four straight losses. Now sitting at 5-4 and in sixth position the Bulldogs have set themselves up nicely, playing their best football at an important time of the year as they push for a finals spot. Superstar Ellie Blackburn has been a catalyst for their winning ways, averaging well over 20 disposals per game during the win streak. She was terrific in their win over the Bombers last week with 26 possessions and a goal. Her fellow AFLW premiership player and rising star nominee in the past season; Naomi Ferres has also been developing nicely and has strung together a number of strong performances for the team.
For Williamstown they sit at the bottom of the table, only percentage above last placed Essendon, having won only one game from their nine encounters. Despite consistently strong individual performances from the likes of Jess Duffin and Jenna Bruton, the Seagulls just cannot seem to put it all together as a team to score a victory. Duffin recorded yet another 30 possession game the past week and continued to show why she is one of the best players in the league. Bruton was also impressive with 29 possessions and a goal however it was not enough as they fell to Carlton by five goals. If Williamstown are able to get an all-around team effort, it will go a long way towards a potential upset and ending the Bulldogs five-game win streak.
Richmond vs NT Thunder
Saturday July 21, 12pm
Swinburne Centre, Richmond
The struggling Tigers return home to Punt Road on Saturday afternoon with the hope of causing a monumental upset over the in-form NT Thunder. Two weeks ago the Tigers sat at 3-4 from their seven games, with two games against the Bombers and the Demons ahead in what were looked at as very winnable. Having dropped both games, the Tigers season is now all but over, sitting three games outside the top four. They have a chance to make a huge statement in a matchup against the juggernaut that is the Thunder. Lauren Tesoriero has been spectacular for the Tigers, showing great heart and giving 100 per cent effort each week. She had 25 possessions and a goal last week, as well as laying a game high nine tackles in a great individual performance. For the Thunder they look to continue their dominance over the lesser sides and proceed to increase their already huge percentage.
The Thunder are far and away the highest scoring team in the competition, averaging 65 points per game and have blown several teams out of the water this season. Scoring will not be easy this week however as they take on the Tigers who only give up an average of 32 points per game. Abbey Holmes played a great game last week, making the most of her opportunities every time she went near the ball, kicking four goals from just seven possessions and will look to have another big impact against a Richmond defence which has been able to shut down many small forwards this season.
Darebin vs Essendon
Saturday July 21, 12pm
Bill Lawry Oval, Northcote
The Bombers have found their feet in recent weeks, having notched their first ever victory only two weeks ago before pushing the in form Western Bulldogs to the limit last week before falling by only six points. After a poor start to the season, in which they were simply overwhelmed from a talent standpoint, a number of players have shown continued improvement and a willingness to buy into the game plan, with the results now beginning to show. The likes of Hayley Bullas have been impressive all season with her tenacious attack on the footy and never say die attitude but it’s been the efforts of players such as Valerie Moreau and Tanya Hetherington which have propelled them into a competitive side. Moreau was particularly impressive last week, with two goals and 11 possessions, alongside three marks as she presented a great target for the Bombers up forward and took advantage of her opportunities in front of goal.
The Falcons have had an inconsistent season to date; having notched a number of impressive wins, only to be followed by a number of poor losses in what has been a struggle to put together a string of good performances. This was evidenced last week as they were completely uncompetitive against the Thunder, registering their one and only goal in the dying minutes of the match. Their midfield has been a strength for them most of the season, with Lauren Pearce playing well in the ruck and setting up opportunities for midfielders such as Elise O’ Dea who has been impressive in her own right. They will need a bounce back game from forward Hannah Mouncey who was held goalless last week, something unusual for the leagues leading goal scorer.
Geelong vs Casey
Saturday July 21, 1pm
Queens Park, Highton
After a disappointing couple of weeks for Geelong, they bounced back nicely last game with a statement victory over the Saints. They sit in fourth position on the ladder, with six wins, two losses and a draw to their name and will look to push for a home final in the coming weeks. After missing a couple of games in the middle of the season, Richelle Cranston has come back, looking as dangerous as ever and taking games away from the opposition. Cranston had 29 possessions last week and was all over the ground for the Cats in a great performance. This looms as a crucial game for the Cats as a loss will see them drop back to the pack in what is becoming a crowded race around the middle of the ladder, while a win will create clear separation and establish them as a legitimate premiership contender.
They take on the Demons, who have won two straight games and put themselves back in contention for a finals berth. Bianca Jakobsson was once again great for Casey in their win last week; tallying up another 20 possessions game whilst young gun and goal sneak Eden Zanker booted two majors. Maddie Shelvin also played a great game however she will be hoping to take more advantage of her opportunities on goal after she failed to convert, kicking zero goals and four behinds to go along with a strong 18-possession game. A win will go a long way to the Demons moving back towards the top contenders; however a loss could be damaging towards their chances of post season action.
Carlton vs Collingwood
Sunday, July 22, 12pm
RAMS Arena, Craigieburn
The Blues ended a six game losing streak last week after a dominating five-goal win over Williamstown. Carlton’s VFLW season has been extremely similar to their AFLW season in which they won their first two games before dropping several matches in a row in what has been another disappointing stretch. They have a huge opportunity to re-announce themselves to the competition with a win over the undefeated Collingwood. Darcy Vescio has been absolutely unbelievable all season long and this was exemplified in her performance last week with four goals and 14 possessions. Vescio has been a constant shining light for the Blues this season and only sits one goal behind Darebin’s Hannah Mouncey for the competition lead with 14 goals to this point. After a bye last week, the Pies come in unbeaten in eight games and have a chance to return to top spot on the ladder, as the Hawks enjoy their bye week.
There have been stars aplenty for Collingwood this season, led by Chloe Molloy, Sarah D’Arcy, Jaimee Lambert and Jessica Edwards to name a few. Molloy in particular has shown herself to be a class above her competitors, having not lost a step after missing the early rounds of the season. A move forward, after spending the AFLW season down in defence has been successful and shown her versatility as a player. These two sides faced off a little over a month ago, with Collingwood dominating en route to a six goal victory. Carlton will need to make some adjustments if they are to beat the flag favourite Pies and record their second consecutive victory.
Southern Saints vs Melbourne Uni
Sunday, July 22, 3pm
SkyBus Stadium, Frankston
In the final game of the round, the Saints host Melbourne Uni in a Sunday afternoon encounter. The Saints find themselves in the midst of an up and down season, sitting in the middle of the table with four wins and four losses from eight games. A win would see them join the pack of teams on five wins and be only a game out of the finals with a little over a month to go in the season. Alison Drennan will play a huge role in the matchup as she looks to add to what is already an impressive portfolio for the 2018 season.
Melbourne Uni have just struggled to get it together thus far this season with only two wins to date. Despite not getting the win last week, they will enter this game with great confidence having pushed the top of the table Hawthorn right to the limit in a five point loss. This was particularly impressive given that their star Emma Kearney struggled with only nine possessions, in a rare off game for her. Ashleigh Riddell stepped up when it mattered most and almost led Melbourne Uni to victory but ultimately was not enough. This presents them with an opportunity to put together some strong performances and get some wins on the board in the back half of the season, with finals seemingly out of the question.