R3 preview: Battle of the unbeaten teams, Rising Stars face off

NORTH MELBOURNE v WESTERN BULLDOGS
7.15pm AEDT, Friday, February 15
University of Tasmania Stadium, Launceston, TAS

  • This match has everything. The Western Bulldogs are reigning premiers; North Melbourne is the brash new team. Former Bulldogs Emma Kearney and Jenna Bruton are up against their old side. This is first versus second in conference A. Both are undefeated.
  • The midfield battle is tantalising, with Kearney and Bruton set to go head-to-head against Ellie Blackburn (above) and Kirsty Lamb. But with Roo Ash Riddell out with a syndesmosis injury, the players rotating through the midfield – Dogs Ange Gogos, Naomi Ferres and Monique Conti, and Roos Jamie Stanton, Kaitlyn Ashmore and Elisha King – could help decide the outcome.
  • Can a ruck win the competition's best and fairest award? North Melbourne's Emma King has had an excellent start to the season, with Kate Gillespie-Jones' much improved form allowing her to spend periods of time up forward, allowing the big No. 60 to kick four goals in two games.

FULL FIXTURE Check it out here

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY v CARLTON
4.45pm AEDT, Saturday, February 16
Blacktown International Sportspark, Rooty Hill, NSW

  • It will be the battle of the round two Rising Star nominees when the Blues' No.3 draft pick from last year Madison Prespakis comes up against the Giants' No.12 pick Alyce Parker. Both enjoyed outstanding performances last weekend and will help shape this game.
  • Both teams are winless, which will likely add an element of desperation to the match.
  • The two have struggled to get the ball inside forward 50, with the Blues recording 23 entries last weekend against Adelaide for a 7.2 (44) return. The Giants had 28, but managed only two goals against a powerful North Melbourne team.
Alyce Parker will do battle with her fellow NAB AFLW Rising Star nominee Madison Prespakis

FREMANTLE v COLLINGWOOD
4.15 pm AWST, Saturday, February 16
Fremantle Oval, Fremantle, WA

  • The Dockers are the highest-scoring team (126 total points), while the Magpies have posted the lowest total to date (32 points).
  • The Dockers are having their strongest start to an AFLW season and are third on the Conference A ladder. They've had 10 individual goalkickers in their two matches. In contrast, Collingwood has kicked only four goals to date.
  • Sophie Alexander returns this week for the Pies, providing a sorely missed target up forward after missing last week with concussion. She showed plenty in her debut match in round one against Geelong and will provide a focal point.

ADELAIDE v GEELONG
2.05pm ACDT, Sunday, February 17
Norwood Oval, Norwood, SA

  • Geelong will be boosted significantly by the inclusions of experienced former Demons Richelle Cranston and Melissa Hickey. Cranston, playing her first match for the year after a two-match suspension for rough conduct in a practice match, will stabilise the midfield, while captain Hickey is playing her first game since March when she tore her right ACL.
  • Adelaide's forward line relished the wide expanses of Ikon Park last week, completing a 30-point turnaround to beat Carlton. Norwood Oval is considerably narrower, and the Crows will be keen to have a better return than the 1.11 they kicked in round one at the ground.
  • Phoebe McWilliams was an important focal point for the Cats in round two but would have been disappointed with her goalkicking of 1.2, especially with the behinds coming at crucial moments. She'll be up against Sarah Allen, who is quickly developing into one of the most dangerous full-backs in the competition.

BRISBANE v MELBOURNE
3.35pm AEST, Sunday, February 17
Hickey Park, Stafford, QLD

  • In a fiercely competitive conference A and with games against North Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs to come, Melbourne needs to win this match to stay in touch with a preliminary final spot (the top two teams from each pool qualify).
  • 'Woosha' watch. Jess Wuetschner went close to winning the competition's leading goalkicker award last year (she was one behind Brooke Lochland), and was arguably more consistent, only going goalless once. She's already kicked five this year, with Sarah Lampard or Katherine Smith likely to take on the elusive forward.
  • Melbourne's Lily Mithen has taken her game to new heights this year in the absence of Daisy Pearce. The diminutive midfielder is spending more time at centre bounces, averaging 17 disposals (up from 13) and 4.5 clearances (up from 1.1).