We’re gearing up for Round Six and The Doc has plenty he’s looking forward to. Let’sjump in
WESTERN BULLDOGS V CARLTON
Growing up as a Bulldogs supporter, I have learned to temper expectations… not just on the football team but in life, because I have found you will likely be pleasantly surprised.
I have very little to look forward to this week. The Dogs are a mess; having watched Carlton first-hand last week, they make it a mission to condense how the opposition plays, and the Dogs have struggled under tackling pressure all season – it’ll get ugly.
Ellie Blackburn loves playing against the Blues, averaging over 20 disposals, five clearances, 3.3 marks and 1.5 goals per game. I put that on the Blues midfielders – Keeley Sherar in particular – to go head-to-head and seize the match-up. She’s been in good form over the season’s first half and is showing her worth to the side.
In a positive, I continue to look forward to seeing what Aurora Smith does this week. Since returning from a knee injury in round three, she’s seemed comfortable at the top level and is improving with every game.
In Smith’s three games this season, she’s averaging 13.3 disposals, 2.3 rebound 50s, 2.7 marks and 3.7 tackles per game. She cracks in hard and attempts to be a driving force out of half-back. In the future, she looks like an excellent piece to the Dogs’ premiership puzzle.
GWS V WEST COAST
Given their standing this year, there will probably not be a better opportunity for the Giants than this to get a win on the board in 2023.
Winning form is good, and the Eagles easily outworked Port Adelaide last week at home, but a long travel east will provide a good challenge. GWS were defensively stringent against the Roos at a blustery Arden Street last week. But to get the win this week, they cannot afford the same players to stand up and deliver.
I need to see more from the midfielders this week – they were destroyed in the clearances last week, and Alyce Parker can’t be the only one who gets it done in the stoppages. It’s a big game for Rebecca Beeson and Nicola Barr, who were kept to just 14 disposals.
It’s a big week for their forwards, too. Izzy Huntington has been showing small glimpses after a lengthy layoff. But Georgia Garnett has been one whose form has regressed a fair bit this season. She has gone goalless in her last three games after kicking three goals in the first two weeks.
Five disposals against Richmond in round three and seven touches last week against North Melbourne won’t get it done here. The Eagles showed great resolve the previous week, with Charlie Thomas and Belinda Smith playing standout games. And who Sophie McDonald will match up with may determine this game.
MELBOURNE V ADELAIDE
It’s the match of the round, hands down!
1st v 2nd at Casey Fields, and we may have a preview of the last two teams that might be left standing when we hit the Grand Final in December.
This is a big test for the Crows, who were beaten twice by Melbourne last season and rather convincingly at that. As far as their season to date, they haven’t beaten anyone I’d consider a premiership favourite. The Suns were admirable in not letting the game blow out beyond five goals, but they still have some ways to go.
Zoe Prowse had a cracking game in defence, and after showing little glimpses of what she can do both at the tail-end of last season, she showcased her full potential as an intercept marking beast against the Suns.
Both sides are undefeated and have the best forward lines in the competition – ranked 1st (Melbourne) and 2nd (Adelaide) for points.
At one end, you’ve got Kate Hore in the form of her career, currently leading the goalkicking with 14 goals for the season, flanked by the likes of Eden Zanker (10 goals) and Alyssa Bannan (eight). And on the other end, You’ve got Caitlin Gould (nine goals), Eloise Jones and Danielle Ponter (both with eight goals).
And the midfield battle, strap in. Tyla Hanks is in great form, and Liv Purcell has been tracking along nicely; seeing them both go head-to-head with Ebony Marinoff and Anne Hatchard would be an absolute treat. In all reality, though, we may see Shelley Heath being sent to Hatchard and matching her run on the outside.
It’s all set for a beauty.
ST KILDA V HAWTHORN
This week is a golden chance for the Saints as they look for three wins in a row after looking seemingly down and out for the count when Port completed their come-from-behind victory over the Saints in round three.
The Saints enjoyed an excellent come-from-behind win of their own against Collingwood at Moorabbin a couple of weeks ago before recording a solid win away from home against the Western Bulldogs on Grand Final Eve.
Led by the captain, Hannah Priest has seen extended minutes in the midfield. As a result, her impact has improved significantly – averaging 17 disposals, 8.4 tackles, and 7.4 contested possessions per game – all of them are career-best averages.
Throughout the season, we’ve seen Priest not afraid to go one-on-one around centre bounces against some of the competition’s best. A few weeks ago, it was Bri Davey; before that, it was Jasmine Garner in round one and Erin Phillips in round three.
It would be good to see her line up one-on-one against Emily Bates. It’s been an exciting season for the Hawthorn best and fairest winner to date, showing more of a defensive edge with her tackling numbers increasing this year.
PORT ADELAIDE V SYDNEY
Despite losing to Carlton last week, I was pretty impressed with the Swans’ endeavours in how they wanted to play the game. They tried to play the possession game and looked for suitable options when they opted to play slow, and at times, it worked well; they got scoring opportunities as a result.
Port was disappointing last week against West Coast, so you’d half expect them to be up and about for this game. Ash Saint comes right back into this side this week, which’ll give Port more stability up forward.
It’s been a big week for Ella Heads, who was a tour de force in the defensive half last week against Carlton and was rewarded for her performance with the Rising Star nomination. Who lines up with her could be interesting. Is it a job for Maddy Keryk this week to take her on and make her accountable?
The Power need their older heads to lift this week. Erin Phillips’s form has dipped after a great start to the season, and some of the other more senior leaders haven’t been as prolific – I need more from players like Ange Foley, Justine Mules and Jasmin Stewart if the Power is to get the chocolates.
Oh, and Matilda Scholz? As good as she’s been this year (including her shocker last week), I hope she’s ready for a lesson in Ruck 101 by Ally Morphett.
BRISBANE V COLLINGWOOD
The Pies got back on the winners’ list last week against Essendon to keep their season alive, but they are coming up against a Brisbane side that has won four in a row and will be looking to save themselves a game clear of fifth spot as we begin to head towards the end of the season.
The Lions have had the wood on Collingwood in recent memory, and given how Brisbane recorded 41 inside 50s for an inaccurate 8.11 last week, there’s not much that suggests that won’t continue here.
The Pies will welcome back Eliza James for this game, and haven’t they missed her presence up forward? She was last seen in round one, taken out of the game early due to an ankle injury. It’ll be a tough ask first-up to produce a match-winning effort against one of the better defences in the competition.
Brisbane’s midfield is firing on all cylinders right now. Ally Anderson is back in the form that saw her net the league’s best and fairest award last season, and Belle Dawes is fresh off one of the best games of her career to date.
Bre Koenen is an interesting case to look at. In her past two weeks, she’s been attending 36 and 35 per cent of centre bounce attendances, respectively. She posted 19 disposals and seven tackles against North Melbourne and even kicked her first goal since 2019 in that game.
She followed it up with 13 touches last week against Hawthorn. It’ll be interesting to see if Craig Starcevich will follow it up this week.
ESSENDON V GEELONG
Last week, the Cats were given a lesson by a Melbourne side who are firming as the side to beat at the midway point of the season. This week, they’ll set themselves a genuine chance to get one back on the leading top four as they travel to Warrnambool’s Reid Oval to take on Essendon.
It’s a big game for both sides. Both teams are in the logjam of sides fifth to 10th on three wins – a win for either side will enhance their chances of playing finals football this year.
You feel that just outside the eight, the Dons have more to play for. Last week was a big chance to solidify their good start to the season, and they bottled it big time against a Collingwood side that has stuttered a lot in their opening month.
In the corresponding fixture last year at Warrnambool, the game was dominated by one player, Chloe Scheer. It’s been some year so far for the former Crow, sitting in the top five in the competition for goals with 10 for the season.
However, this is becoming a worrying trend for her against the better sides. She had four disposals against North Melbourne a few weeks ago, and last week against Melbourne, she was only kept to three touches and no scoreboard impact. Meanwhile, a teammate in her fifth career game kicked three goals and looked more like the chance to win the leading goalkicking than anything else.
Up the other end, the Dons need to find players who can help Bonnie Toogood. Like Scheer, she’s got 10 goals to her name and is playing every bit like a leader. She was responsible for all three of Essendon’s goals last week, and if they can’t find a solution on the weekend, it could be a long afternoon for Essendon fans.
RICHMOND V GOLD COAST
Like the Essendon and Geelong game, this is a game that could help potentially shape the top eight when we get to the business end of the season. Richmond and Gold Coast sit in the top eight with three wins and two losses.
Richmond was quite disappointing last week at home against a travelling Fremantle side, and despite being in the eight at the midway point of the season, I can’t help but feel like they should be better than where they stand.
Injuries certainly haven’t helped. They’ll miss Sarah Hosking this week, and Ellie McKenzie, Jess Hosking, Bec Miller and Sarah D’Arcy are all still missing with injuries, so depth has been seriously tested in recent weeks.
That said, this is a golden opportunity for the Suns to get another win and continue with their season. I don’t know how many expected them to beat Adelaide last week, but they did well to keep with them after the Crows kicked the first four goals of the match.
Jamie Stanton was kept goalless this week; I expect her to have an excellent bounce-back performance this week. Tara Bohanna’s goal-scoring input has been a considerable disappointment thus far; this could be a perfect opportunity to get her season back on track.
But that’s dependent on the midfielders. Charlie Rowbottom was outstanding once again, and Lucy Single worked hard to limit the influence of Ebony Marinoff in this game. Indeed, Mon Conti is the match-up to watch in this game. Keep her out of the game as much as possible, and the Suns should record a healthy victory.
FREMANTLE V NORTH MELBOURNE
I was impressed with Fremantle’s work rate this week, and it’ll be interesting to see how they match up against a North Melbourne side who had to work hard to get the premiership points last week against a plucky GWS.
They’ll get Ebony Antonio back this week after she was a late scratching in the win over the Tigers last week. That’ll help to a degree, but with Ash Riddell and Jasmine Garner both in, arguably, career-best form, how are the Dockers mids going to best that and give the supply to the likes of Aine Tighe and Mikaela Tuhakaraina?
I liked Ange Stannett in the midfield last week. She gave them an extra point of difference, and you know she’ll dig deep and work hard to ensure the footy goes to the good of her and her teammates. Another one that has flown under the radar in recent weeks is Megan Kauffman, who I thought her ability to run with the footy and take the game on at times last week was insatiable.
Speaking of Tighe, that should be an enthralling match-up against one of the league’s best defensive stoppers this season, Jasmine Ferguson. Out of all those who have had 15 contested defensive one-on-ones or more, Ferguson is first in the competition for the least amount of contested losses. A 15.8 per cent defensive contest loss percentage is the best in the competition.
I suppose it goes by saying Sarah Wright has had 14 contested one-on-ones this season and has lost just two; she’s playing some solid defensive footy in her own right. The Roos are the best defensive team in the competition, conceding just 81 points this year, including six points against Carlton in round two and two points against the Giants last week.
The Doc is the heart and soul of our AFLW coverage. He pours himself into it to provide the best in the business. If you come here for AFLW stuff and enjoy what he does, please consider buying him a coffee for the work he does by clicking the link below. I’m sure he’d greatly appreciate it.