2018 AFL Women’s season: Round 3 preview

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    Two grudge matches will highlight this weekend’s round of AFL Women’s matches, with Tayla Harris and Alicia Eva set to go up against their former clubs for the first time.

    Last round’s matches proved to be brutal, with two players suffering season-ending knee injuries and a massive thunderstorm suspending play in the GWS Giants vs Carlton match, won by the Blues by 21 points.

    In that match, Blues captain Brianna Davey suffered the dreaded ACL injury, which has sidelined her for twelve months, while number one draft pick Isabel Huntington suffered the same fate in the Western Bulldogs’ win over the Brisbane Lions.

    Two rounds down and already three players are gone for the season – so let’s just hope that round three is much more gentle to the players. Here is your full preview to the round.

    Adelaide Crows vs Western Bulldogs
    Having lost their first two matches of the season, both to the same two teams they lost to in the inaugural AFLW season, every match from here on in is sudden death for the Adelaide Crows if they want to keep their premiership defence alive.

    Without their co-captain Erin Phillips, the Crows slumped to last place on the AFLW ladder after suffering the heaviest defeat of any side this season, going down to flag favourites Melbourne by 32 points at Casey Fields.

    And their plight will not be helped this weekend by the absence of their other co-captain, Ange Foley, who will be missing this weekend after copping a one-match suspension for kneeing Dees captain Daisy Pearce.

    This will make their home assignment against the Western Bulldogs all the more tougher, especially with Paul Groves’ side coming off an impressive win over the Brisbane Lions in the Sunshine Capital.

    It was marred, however, by yet another one of their players going down with a season-ending knee injury, with number one draft pick Isabel Huntington suffering the same fate as Daria Bannister did in the opening round.

    Huntington had, minutes before her heartbreaking injury, shown why she has the potential to take the AFLW by storm, kicking two goals in the second quarter.

    It has put a dampener on the Dogs’ 2-0 start to the season and while they are on the road for the second consecutive week, they would love nothing more than to inflict more misery on the reigning premiers in their own backyard.

    Bulldogs

    (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

    Prediction: Western Bulldogs by 10 points.

    Carlton vs Brisbane Lions
    The first grudge match to look forward to this round will pit Tayla Harris and her Carlton Blues up against her former side, the Brisbane Lions, at Ikon Park on Saturday night.

    Last weekend, the Blues scored a 21-point win over the GWS Giants in Sydney but it came at a massive cost as they lost their inspirational captain Brianna Davey to a serious knee injury which will sideline her for 12 months.

    The result was achieved in tough conditions after heavy rain forced the suspension of play just as the players were about to start the second quarter.

    The Blues, who had conceded the opening goal of the game, were able to regroup and kick the last three majors without reply to start the season 2-0 for the second consecutive year.

    It was also achieved without their regular coach, Damien Keeping, who remains sidelined due to illness. Nick Rutley will continue to serve in the role on an indefinite basis.

    If the club ever needs any inspiration as they seek their first AFLW premiership, they need not look back as far as what the Western Bulldogs men’s team achieved in the face of such great adversity in 2016.

    Against all odds, the Dogs won the AFL premiership despite boasting a horror injury list, the most serious of which was a knee injury to then-captain Robert Murphy that occurred early in the season.

    Still, the Blues boast some good quality players in Darcy Vescio, the Hosking twin sisters and Nicola Stevens, but will have their work cut out against a Brisbane Lions side smarting from their nine-point loss to the Western Bulldogs last start.

    Craig Starcevich’s men failed to kick a goal in the first half and while they fought back in the second, it was not enough as they suffered their first loss in a regular season match; the result leaving them as one of two clubs (the other being Fremantle) with an even record after two rounds.

    The corresponding match last year ended in a draw, but it was effectively a dead rubber for the Lions who had already secured the minor premiership with one round to play in last year’s inaugural season.

    Jess Wuetschner

    (AAP Image/Glenn Hunt)

    It will now remain to be seen how Carlton respond to the loss of their captain, Brianna Davey, for the remainder of the season. While they have the home ground advantage, I think the Lions should bounce back.

    Prediction: Brisbane Lions by ten points.

    Collingwood vs GWS Giants
    This is the only match of the round which will pit two winless teams against each other, and as such, crunch time has arrived for both Collingwood and the GWS Giants.

    Despite kicking the first two goals of the match, the Pies went down to Fremantle in the first football match played at the newly-built Perth Stadium to once again start their campaign with two losses from as many matches.

    Another phenomenal performance from second-gamer Chloe Molloy and a two-goal haul from Christina Bernardi, however, were highlights for the black and white faithful.

    It will remain to be seen whether Moana Hope, who was dropped for the clash against the Dockers, will be recalled for the showdown against the Giants, who were just as sloppy in their 21-point loss to Carlton at Drummoyne Oval last Friday night.

    After Phoebe McWilliams kicked their first goal of the match, an untimely delay due to thunderstorms in the area ultimately put the Giants off their game as they failed to kick another major thereafter.

    High-profile recruit Alicia Eva was best-on-ground with 17 disposals and there is no doubt she will be fired up for the clash against her former teammates at Olympic Park Oval this Sunday.

    The Pies won the corresponding clash by 36 points last year but, with Eva now behind enemy lines, her new side will be much more competitive this time around as they seek just their second win in the AFL Women’s league.

    Still, the Pies will want to perform in front of their fans in what will be their first home game after two away matches to start the season.

    Prediction: Collingwood by 14 points.

    Melissa Kuys

    (AAP Image/Tony McDonough)

    Fremantle vs Melbourne
    From the outside looking in, you’d think that another tough task would await premiership favourites Melbourne when they fly over the Nullarbor for their clash against Fremantle at Fremantle Oval.

    It is true on this respect, as the Dockers are coming off an impressive win over Collingwood in what was the first match of football to be played at the new Perth Stadium.

    The win, achieved in front of just under 42,000 people, was highlighted by 35 possessions between last year’s best-and-fairest, Dana Hooker, and captain Kara Donnellan, as well as two goals from Melissa Caulfield, who would have done the great Matthew Pavlich proud with her efforts in the #29 guernsey.

    For Michelle Cowan’s side it was the perfect way to hit back after they were overwhelmed by the Western Bulldogs in round one, in which it failed to score a single point in the first half.

    But from the inside looking out, it’s Melbourne who continue to show why they are the favourites for the flag, as they thrashed last year’s premiers, the Adelaide Crows, by 32 points, thanks to another masterclass from captain Daisy Pearce as well as fellow All-Australian Karen Paxman.

    It was a more polished performance from Mick Stinear’s men after they avoided somewhat of a major embarrassment in round one when it defeated the GWS Giants by only six points in their opening round match.

    But while the only thing that will just about test them is the long flight to Perth, the Dees should fly back east with the four premiership points.

    As for Fremantle, returning to their regular home ground in Fremantle Oval, where they will play the remainder of their home games, will be a massive departure from the record crowd they were greeted with at Optus Stadium last week, with the crowd to be capped at 10,000 for their clash with the Dees.

    Prediction: Melbourne by 20 points.

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    The Crowd Says (1)

    • Roar Guru

      February 14th 2018 @ 9:22am
      mastermind5991 said | February 14th 2018 @ 9:22am | ! Report

      CORRECTION: “Craig Starcevich’s men…”

      Should be “Craig Starcevich’s women“.

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