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2020 AFLW: Round 3 preview

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Roar Guru
19th February, 2020
3

We are a quarter of the way through the regular season and already there are several teams that are standing out among the rest.

After two rounds, Brisbane, Collingwood, Fremantle and Melbourne all remain unbeaten, with the Lions and Dockers sitting at the top of their respective conferences.

Three of the four teams that entered the competition this year – Richmond, St Kilda and West Coast, as well as last year’s entrants the Geelong Cats – are yet to get off the mark for season 2020.

The Saints will have a tough time of it tackling the undefeated Dees to kick off the round, while West Coast and Richmond will also face tough assignments against the GWS Giants and North Melbourne, respectively, on Sunday.

We will also see our first women’s QClash when the Brisbane Lions travel down the M1 to face the Gold Coast Suns at Metricon Stadium, while a blockbuster in the west awaits when Fremantle faces Collingwood on Saturday evening.

Here is your full preview to Round 3.

St Kilda vs Melbourne
The first match of Round 3 sees St Kilda return to Moorabbin Oval for yet another tough assignment, taking on Melbourne who are yet to taste defeat this season.

After being convincingly beaten by the Western Bulldogs in Round 1, the Saints put in a much-improved performance against the Adelaide Crows on the road and were on track to cause a major upset, before being run down in the final quarter, losing by 13 points.

Again it was Georgia Patrikios who shone for the Saints, her run-and-carry through the midfield very nearly winning the game for her young side before inexperience proved to be the difference when it mattered most.

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This will give Melbourne and their coach Mick Stinear something to think about as they plot to inflict the Saints’ third defeat of the season while at the same time remain undefeated in 2020.

In heavy rain the Dees, led by Karen Paxman and Daisy Pearce in defence, ran over the top of the Western Bulldogs, winning by 20 points; they could have won by more if not for their inaccuracy in front of goal.

There was a tragic ending to the match, however, when Ainslie Kemp left the field after suffering a suspected ACL tear, which has all but ruled her out for the remainder of the season.

She joins Shae Sloane (the sister of Adelaide Crows captain Rory Sloane) and Katherine Smith as those who suffered the dreaded injury during the preseason.

Still, Melbourne remain one of the Victorian favourites for the flag and will start as favourites to make it three from three to start the season on Friday night.

Melbourne Demons AFLW

(Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Prediction: Melbourne by 16 points.

Western Bulldogs vs Carlton
The first match on Saturday afternoon sees the third instalment of the women’s Pride Game take place when the Western Bulldogs and Carlton face off at the Whitten Oval.

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After both sides won their opening-round matches against new clubs, the Bulldogs and Blues fell back to earth last week, losing to Melbourne and Collingwood respectively.

Despite the best efforts of captain Ellie Blackburn, the Dogs went down to the Dees in rainy conditions at home, while the Blues surrendered the points to arch-rivals Collingwood for the first time, with forward Tayla Harris enduring a quiet game up forward.

It was in the teams’ last meeting that a photo of Harris taking a shot for goal while airborne became viral, after which she became the target of internet trolls before it was re-uploaded to social media warning users to think before they talk.

So famous was that photo, shot by well-renowned photographer Michael Wilson, that not only was it later immortalized in a statue, but there were also calls for a silhouette to be incorporated into the AFL Women’s logo.

As you can expect, Harris will again be the centre of attention as the Blues and Bulldogs look to go 2-1 up for the season in this inter-conference clash.

The Bulldogs should take the chocolates at home.

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Prediction: Western Bulldogs by eight points.

Gold Coast Suns vs Brisbane Lions
The twilight match sees the first women’s QClash take place, when the Gold Coast Suns face their more experienced and more successful neighbours, the Brisbane Lions, at Metricon Stadium.

After only two matches, we have seen signs of the Suns’ potential, in a narrow one-point loss to the GWS Giants and an impressive 11-point win over Richmond at home last week.

Now they will face their toughest task yet – facing a Lions side which had made the grand final in their first two seasons, but have in recent times fallen victim to the expansion of the AFL Women’s league.

That being said, the Suns can expect to field up to seven ex-Lions in their side, including Leah Kaslar and Emma Pittman, therefore lighting the fuse for what stands to be a massive derby.

While the Lions have had their playing list gutted by expansion, and recently lost a trial match against the GWS Giants in which they failed to kick a single goal, it hasn’t affected the team going forward as they have notched up wins over the Adelaide Crows and Geelong Cats to start the season.

Against the Cats, Craig Starcevich’s side trailed by eleven points at halftime but then kicked five majors to nil in the second half to win by 19 points and assume the top spot in Conference A.

Instrumental to the win were Jesse Wardlaw, who kicked three goals, while Emily Bates and Sophie Conway picked up nearly 40 disposals between them as they recorded the first win at Kardinia Park by any Brisbane Lions side (men’s or women’s) since 2003.

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A high level of interest and intrigue is expected for the first women’s QClash, as it did for the men whereby the Suns won the first such clash by eight points back in 2011. I think the Lions will continue their impressive start to the season with a win on the road.

Jess Wuetschner

(Chris Hyde/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Prediction: Brisbane Lions by ten points.

Fremantle vs Collingwood
Without a doubt, the match of the round is the Saturday night showdown between Fremantle and Collingwood at the Fremantle Oval.

The Dockers have enjoyed a smooth start to the year, first overcoming the Geelong Cats by 16 points in the opening round before making a mockery of the first Western Derby by thrashing cross-town rivals the West Coast Eagles by 45 points at Optus Stadium.

18-year-old draftee Roxy Roux showed maturity beyond her years, kicking three goals in a match that drew over 35,000 spectators to Optus Stadium and earning herself a Rising Star nomination in the process.

Trent Cooper’s side will stay at home for a third consecutive week, welcoming Collingwood in what promises to be an intra-conference blockbuster.

Last Sunday, the Pies continued their own impressive start to the season under new coach Steve Symonds by defeating Carlton by 15 points at Ikon Park, marking their first win over the Navy Blue; it was also the first time the Pies had started a season with two consecutive wins.

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Defender Stacey Livingstone, however, came under fire for labelling Blues forward Tayla Harris “useless” after she’d kept her to only one goal, though she has since apologised.

The trip over the Nullarbor will be one of two interstate trips the Pies will make in 2020, the other to be against the Brisbane Lions in Round 6.

At home, the Dockers should continue their impressive form as they continue to build towards the finals.

Kiara Bowers

(Daniel Carson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Prediction: Fremantle by 20 points.

GWS Giants vs West Coast Eagles
The first match on Sunday sees the GWS Giants play host to the West Coast Eagles in what will be their second and last appearance in Blacktown for 2020.

After defeating the Gold Coast Suns by just a solitary point in treacherous conditions in Round 1, the Giants struggled to match it with North Melbourne in Launceston; after scores had been level at quarter-time, they managed only one goal thereafter to lose by 18 points.

Still, the Giants were served well by captain Alicia Eva, but they simply cannot rely on her to do all the heavy lifting if they are to win more matches in 2020.

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GWS Giants

(AAP Image/Tony McDonough)

Their second home game of the season sees them face another new team, the West Coast Eagles, who will be fielding two ex-Giants in their side – captain Emma Swanson and Maddy Collier.

In their first home game in history, the Eagles struggled to match it with cross-town rivals Fremantle, enduring a scoreless first quarter and only kicking two majors for the match as they lost by 45 points.

The scoreless first quarter meant that they failed to kick a goal in four consecutive quarters, which in effect is a whole match, after they’d kicked only one goal (via Swanson) in their Round 1 loss to Collingwood.

Now, the Eagles must prepare themselves for the long flight to the Harbour City, and if what we saw in the first two rounds is any indication, then it could be another long afternoon for the blue and gold this Sunday.

This will also be the only chance for Eagles fans in Sydney to see their side in action, with the men’s team not scheduled to play in the Harbour City this year.

Prediction: GWS Giants by 14 points.

Richmond vs North Melbourne
What was shaping as a potential blockbuster could threaten to turn ugly when the winless Richmond face undefeated North Melbourne at Ikon Park on Sunday.

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Despite boasting a team featuring the likes of captain Katie Brennan, Monique Conti, Christina Bernardi and Sabrina Frederick, the Tigers have yet to get off the mark in 2020, dropping its first two matches of their history to be sitting at the bottom of Conference A.

Their most recent match saw them lose to fellow newcomers the Gold Coast Suns by 11 points, and Brennan should consider herself lucky not to face any judiciary action after appearing to target the shoulder of an injured opponent.

North Melbourne, meanwhile, bounced back from its narrow opening-round loss to Melbourne by dominating after quarter-time to defeat the GWS Giants by 18 points in Hobart last week, with Emma King and Emma Kearney among their best players.

Alison Drennan

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Coach Scott Gowans had put the onus on his team to respond to their Round 1 defeat and they delivered, showing why they are one of the favourites for this year’s flag.

They now have the chance to inflict further misery on the Tigers in a match that was scheduled to be played at Punt Road Oval, but has been shifted to Ikon Park in the anticipation of a large attendance.

Prediction: North Melbourne by 18 points.

Geelong Cats vs Adelaide Crows
The final match of Round 3 sees the Geelong Cats remain at home for the second consecutive week, welcoming the Adelaide Crows to Kardinia Park in what will be a rematch of last year’s embarrassingly one-sided preliminary final.

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In that match, the Crows dominated from start to finish, keeping the Cats scoreless until halfway through the final quarter as they stormed into their second grand final (which they would eventually win) in three years.

Anne Hatchard in action for the Crows

(AAP Image/Darren England)

But it will be a slightly weaker Crows side the Cats will face this Sunday, with the reigning premiers still without captain Erin Phillips, Rhiannon Metcalfe and Chelsea Randall due to knee injuries.

Matthew Clarke’s side survived a massive scare from newcomers St Kilda at home, being forced to come from behind in the final quarter to triumph by 13 points thanks to the efforts of Ebony Marinoff and Anne Hatchard.

The Cats, meanwhile, managed to lead the Brisbane Lions by 11 points at half-time but would not kick a major after half-time, conceding the final five goals of the game to lose by 19 points.

They were led superbly by teenagers Nina Morrison and Millie Brown, who each picked up 18 disposals, while Olivia Purcell kicked two majors. Still, entering their forward 50 remains a weakness for the Cats, who failed to take a mark in their forward arc for the whole match.

Like the Lions last week, the Adelaide Crows as a club haven’t enjoyed a great deal of success at Kardinia Park, with neither their men’s or women’s side having won there since 2003. However, that drought will end this Sunday.

Prediction: Adelaide Crows by 14 points.

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