AFTER a week of no TAC Cup Girls football, the players would undoubtedly be keen to get back into a huge round six. There are plenty of matches that could go either way, including the highly anticipated clash between two top sides in the Geelong Falcons and Eastern Ranges. Meanwhile, Bendigo and Oakleigh will both be searching for their first wins since round one, as they face off at Golden Square.
GEELONG FALCONS v. EASTERN RANGES
Round 6 – Saturday 21 April, 12.45pm
McDonald Reserve, Belmont
Geelong has brought in its big guns ahead of its clash against the Eastern Ranges. The Falcons have selected all five of their AFLW Academy players, including Eliza Shannon, who has been named as an emergency for the clash. Geelong is still undefeated after five rounds of TAC Cup Girls football and are looking to keep it that way, despite the Ranges bringing in a formidable outfit ahead of the clash at Belmont.
The Eastern Ranges experienced their first loss of the season in round five and would be hoping to bounce back in style and stop the Falcons in their tracks. But they will have to do this without star defender, Georgia Macpherson, who will sit out her first game of the season. Eastern’s depth is one of the best in the competition though, so there will be no shortage of talent out on the park as Emerson Woods and Olivia Meagher will come in to bolster the midfield and forward lines.
GIPPSLAND POWER v. NORTHERN KNIGHTS
Round 6 – Saturday 21 April, 3.15pm
Morwell Football Ground, Morwell
The Power are coming into this game off two consecutive wins and would be aware of the challenge they face to make it three from three in round six. However, co-captain Tyla Hanks will return to the Gippsland line-up this week after having a stellar performance in AFLW Academy colours. Emily Haeusler won our Player of the Week in her last match after a best on ground against Bendigo Pioneers and will be looking to continue that form, while Nikia Webber has been making her way up the goal-kicking tally and could play a big role on Saturday.
Webber may find it easier to play her role without Ellie McKenzie playing in defence for the Northern Knights. McKenzie will sit out the round six clash, as well as key players, Neve O’Connor and Ciara Fitzgerald. But the side’s depth continues to pay dividends, as they will boast a forward line that includes joint TAC Cup Girls leading goalkicker, Alyssa Bannan, vice-captain, Magdelene Antypas as well as Alex Pronesti and Nell Morris-Dalton. Northern could be in for a big challenge against the impressive Power but would be keen to keep their undefeated streak alive.
MURRAY BUSHRANGERS v. SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS
Round 6 – Saturday 21 April, 3.30pm
Norm Minns Oval, Wangaratta
The Murray Bushrangers are going into round six with an unfamiliar feeling, after experiencing their first loss in the TAC Cup Girls competition. The loss of stars such as Rebecca Webster and Millie Brown may have contributed to this, but fortunately, they will be back this round and could dominate in the heart of the contest. Also be sure to keep an eye out for Grace Egan and Tamara Smith, who are coming off fantastic games for Murray.
With the Dragons looking as strong as ever, they could be in prime position to really push the Bushrangers at Wangaratta. Eleanor Brown has been playing consistent football and is a key cog in the Sandringham midfield. On Saturday, she will be joined by Abbie McKay, who usually plays in defence. There was an even spread of goal kickers in round five, and these players would be willing to step up again in round six. The forward group of Maddison Wilson, Isabella Eddey, Laura Amelung, Sophia Rothfield, Hannah Bate and Georgia Emberton is one of the strongest forward lines in the competition.
GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS v. CALDER CANNONS
Round 6 – Sunday 22 April, 11.30am
MARS Stadium, Ballarat
The Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels would be hoping to even up their season by recording their third win on the weekend. Their three big guns in Sophie Van De Huevel, Rene Caris and Georgia Clarke will return to the line-up this week after all having solid performances for the AFLW Academy. Meanwhile, Nyakoat Dojiok and Lauren Butler would be hoping to continue their good form for the Rebels.
However, this could be harder for them due to some huge ins for the Cannons. Calder welcomes in captain, Madison Prespakis, after she kicked two goals and dominated the contest for the AFLW Academy squad. Fellow AFLW Academy members, Georgia Patrikios and Molly Warburton will also come back into the side to provide some support at the bookends of the ground. Playing her first game of the season will be Emily Vukovic, who is a former Melbourne Tigers youth player, so be sure to keep an eye out for her.
BENDIGO PIONEERS v. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS
Round 6 – Sunday 22 April, 2.00pm
Golden Square, Bendigo
The Pioneers last tasted victory against the Western Jets in round one, but came close in a number of encounters. Captain Megan Williamson has starred in every game she has played, while fellow midfielder, Kodi Jacques has been as consistent as ever. Playing at home will be a huge advantage for Bendigo, who will welcome Gemmi Murrell and Grace Sladden into its strong side this round.
But the Chargers also have some huge ins with captain, Hannah McLaren and star midfielders, Gemma Lagioia and Chloe O’Malley slotting back into the lineup. McLaren and Lagioia last featured in round four against the Falcons, but only played one quarter due a head clash. They were a big loss for Oakleigh last round, but will be raring to go in their return match on Sunday. With Katie Lynch looking at dangerous as ever in the midfield, it could spell trouble for the Pioneers.
DANDENONG STINGRAYS v. WESTERN JETS
Round 6 – Sunday 22 April, 3.00pm
Shepley Oval, Dandenong
The Stingrays welcome in their three AFLW Academy players into the side this week, after they all played wonderfully against Geelong. Brooke Struylaart and Samantha Ryan will slot into the forward line while Jordyn Allen will be looking to dominate in defence. Courtney Jones will start in the midfield alongside Lucinda Cripps, who usually plays in defence. Dandenong have not had a win this season but would be liking its chances at its home ground.
But the Western Jets have come off a great week, after defeating the Eastern Ranges in round five. Forward Caitlin Grieser was dominant in that game with four goals and would be hoping to intimidate the Stingrays defence as she did against the Ranges. Meanwhile, Elisabeth Georgostathis and Payton Ani-Ozols would be keen to continue their red-hot form in the midfield. On Sunday, they will have AFLW Academy member, Isabella Grant to help them out, which is a huge in for the side.