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2022 AFL Women's season: Round 3 preview

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Roar Guru
18th January, 2022
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Two rounds into the new season and it’s already becoming clear who the front-runners are in the flag race.

With their big win over the GWS Giants last Sunday, Fremantle have assumed top spot on the ladder – a position they have become accustomed to in recent seasons – and despite having to spend a month away from home, will start favourites against Richmond on Saturday afternoon.

The Adelaide Crows are not far behind, having shown their long-standing star qualities in consecutive home victories over the Brisbane Lions and North Melbourne to start the season.

Collingwood and Melbourne are the other two undefeated teams, the former’s win over St Kilda made all the more impressive given they were without both co-captains, including the injured Brianna Davey, due to injuries and health protocols.

Five teams are yet to get off the mark and Brisbane eowill be itching to get back on the field after they were unable to field a fully fit team for against the Western Bulldogs, which will be scheduled at a later time in the season.

Here is your preview to Round 3.

Geelong Cats vs Collingwood
The undefeated Pies have continued to get on with things, thrashing St Kilda by 27 points last week, having kept the Saints goalless for the first three quarters. Britt Bonicci and Jaimee Lambert racked up over 50 disposals between them in a midfield missing both their co-captains.

It gave them a 2-0 record, which they will be favoured to extend to 3-0 when they face the Cats, who are 0-2 but slowly building.

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For the second week running, Geelong gave their opposition a run for their money, but ultimately went down by 14 points despite the best efforts of Georgie Prespakis, who racked up 15 disposals against her sister Maddy, who tallied 29.

It followed on from a narrow, season-opening loss to North in Hobart and coach Daniel Lowther would be encouraged by the way his side is tracking, after nearly avoiding a winless season last year.

While the Cats will be buoyed by the home ground advantage for the second week in a row, the Pies’ class should win out here.

Prediction: Collingwood by 18 points.

West Coast Eagles vs Adelaide Crows
The Eagles will be wondering where it all went wrong last Sunday; after trailing by two points at three-quarter-time and kicking three quick goals in succession, the westerners threw away victory when they coughed up five final-quarter goals to go down to the Gold Coast by 13 points.

It gifted the Suns their first win since Round 6, 2020, which was also against the Eagles, though that time it was in Perth.

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Rookie coach Michael Prior will need a full-team effort if they are to cause a major upset against the Adelaide Crows, who sit second on the ladder.

Four goals to forward Ashleigh Woodland saw the Crows hold off a determined North by 13 points last Sunday, while the two-time premiers were also well serviced by the usual suspects – Ebony Marinoff, the ageless Erin Phillips and captain Chelsea Randall.

Chelsea Randall

(Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

It was suggested (or joked) in commentary that cross-towners Port Adelaide, entering the league next season, should keep an eye on Phillips with a view on poaching her from West Lakes during the off-season.

The Crows’ class and experience should see them notch up another win here and further highlight their premiership credentials.

Prediction: Adelaide Crows by 20 points.

Melbourne vs St Kilda
The Dees made it two from two to start the new season, defeating Richmond by 16 points at Punt Road Oval last Friday night thanks to a strong second quarter in which they kicked five goals, including a goal-of-the-year contender from Alyssa Bannan.

Bannan, Tayla Harris and Kate Hore each booted two majors as the side continues in their bid to emulate their men’s side in winning a flag, which would bring another financial windfall to a club once on its knees.

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Mick Stinear’s side will start hot favourites against St Kilda, who are struggling near the bottom of the ladder but will get coach Nick Dal Santo back after he missed last week’s loss to Collingwood after being identified as a close COVID-19 contact.

He could only watch on as the Saints failed to kick a goal in the first three quarters, but despite the adversity they faced, stand-in coach Paddy Hill praised his side’s effort.

Catherine Phillips was their best player, with 20 disposals, while Molly McDonald and Kate Shierlaw each booted a goal in the final quarter to save the Saints from a demoralising defeat.

Now the women from Moorabbin face the toughest task of their season so far and a loss could deliver the last rites to their season.

Prediction: Melbourne by 24 points.

Richmond vs Fremantle
The second match of Fremantle’s month-long road trip sees them face Richmond at Punt Road Oval, where they will start hot favourites to make it a 3-0 start to the season.

After a scrappy first quarter against the Giants, the Dockers unleashed in the second quarter, scoring 4.4 (28) to nothing to all but have the match won by halftime, with only inaccuracy preventing them from winning by a bigger margin.

Playing just her second game, Dana East was among Freo’s best, while Kiara Bowers backed up her best-on-ground effort in the previous week’s Western Derby with another serviceable display in the middle, and Gemma Houghton booted two majors.

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Richmond, on the other hand, were brought back down to earth after losing to Melbourne by 16 points in a high-scoring affair at Punt Road.

Monique Conti, however, backed up her best-on-ground performance against the Saints with another 25 touches and kicked her first goal for the club, as she did her best to lift the Tigers back into the game after they’d trailed by 26 points at halftime.

While the Tigers may be playing at their spiritual home for a second consecutive week, the Dockers’ class should prove too strong.

Prediction: Fremantle by 14 points.

Gold Coast Suns vs Brisbane Lions
Rounding off a huge quadruple-header on Saturday night is the third Q-Clash, which the Suns will enter on a high after kicking five goals in the final quarter to come from behind and beat the West Coast Eagles in Melbourne, putting an end to an 11-match losing streak.

It was Cameron Joyce’s first win as an AFLW coach and extinguished any predictions that the Suns would again fail to win even a single match, as was the case last season.

While the Gold Coast had plenty to celebrate, Brisbane were unable to take to the field at all due to COVID and injuries robbing them of the ability to field a full side.

As for Round 1, the Lions copped a heavy loss at the hands of the Adelaide Crows, and lost Kate Lutkins and Dakota Davidson to long-term injuries, with the former to not play again in 2022.

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The corresponding Q-Clash last year saw the Lions win by 63 points, with the Suns managing only two points in what was a dirty day for the club. The only other Q-Clash, held in 2020, resulted in a draw.

While it is a different Suns team this time around, expect the Lions to show their class.

Prediction: Brisbane Lions by 18 points.

North Melbourne vs GWS Giants
Both last-start losers, North and the Giants were unlucky to have had to face two of the competition’s powerhouses in the Adelaide Crows and Fremantle, respectively.

Kaitlyn Ashmore and Emma Kearney both did their best to lift the Roos against the Crows but, after being within a kick or two late in the final quarter, ultimately went down by 13 points. They were also far from convincing against Geelong in Round 1 but as the season progresses, expect them to show exactly why their premiership window remains open.

On the other hand, the Giants fought toe-to-toe with the Dockers in the first quarter but failed to kick a single goal thereafter, losing by 32 points, with Cora Staunton kicking their entire score, 2.8 (20).

The loss was soured by a serious ankle injury to Rebecca Beeson, and her potential absence is the last thing Alan McConnell’s side would want as they complete their three-week road trip against the Kangaroos at Arden Street Oval this Sunday.

Prediction: North Melbourne by 15 points.

Western Bulldogs vs Carlton
Due to COVID-related issues, as well as injuries, the Bulldogs, who were originally fixtured to face the Geelong Cats at Kardinia Park, were unable to field a side for their refixtured match against the Lions, which will be played at a later date.

Their defence had been tested against Melbourne, conceding seven goals in a disappointing start to the season for Nathan Burke’s side, and the time off would’ve allowed them to refresh for their clash against the Blues.

Originally fixtured to face the Lions in Brisbane, the Blues instead headed down the highway and registered a 14-point win over the Cats at Kardinia Park, with former best-and-fairest Madison Prespakis facing off against her sister Georgie.

Madison was among the Blues’ best with 29 disposals, while the league’s leading goalkicker, Darcy Vescio, was held scoreless; still, Carlton had four individual goalkickers and their experience proved to be the difference against the developing Cats.

On the basis of their form after two matches, expect the Blues to take the points in this one and go 3-0 for the season.

Prediction: Carlton by 10 points.

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