R4 preview: Grand finalists meet again, Conference B heats up

HERE'S a quick look at the five NAB AFLW Women's matches this weekend. 

GEELONG v CARLTON
4.45pm AEDT, Saturday, February 23
GMHBA Stadium, Geelong, Vic 

  • This looms as an important clash in the Conference B race for preliminary final qualification. Carlton sits first and Geelong second, but the two sides have won only one game each. The winner will get some separation on the rest of the conference.
  • The Cats have struggled to get the ball to their forwards, averaging just under 22 inside 50s a match. Against Adelaide last week, Geelong had only 16 and managed seven scoring shots. If the Cats can address this, they could be hard to beat.
  • Abbey McKay will become the first father-daughter selection to play in the AFLW when she makes her debut for Carlton on Saturday. The 18-year-old's father Andrew played 244 games for the club from 1993-2003. 

FULL FIXTURE Check out when your team plays

WESTERN BULLDOGS v BRISBANE
7.15pm AEDT, Saturday, February 23
VU Whitten Oval, Footscray, Vic 

  • The 2018 Grand Final rematch sees these two sides in very different positions to last year. The Bulldogs are sitting at the bottom of a hotly contested Conference A (but have two wins on the board), while Brisbane is third in Conference B, coming off a very disappointing 29-point loss to Melbourne.
  • The Bulldogs didn't get their hands on the footy against a strong North Melbourne last round, recording just 164 disposals for the match, the fewest of any side. (By contrast, Adelaide recorded the most, with 253).
  • The Dogs' defence has been a thorn in the side of Lions key forward Sabrina Frederick-Traub, with Lauren Spark boasting a strong record against the key tall. Tiarna Ernst fills the hole well in front of Frederick-Traub, meaning the Lions will have to lower their eyes and target Jess Wuetschner and Kate McCarthy more. 

ADELAIDE v FREMANTLE
8.05pm ACST, Saturday, February 23
TIO Stadium, Darwin, NT 

  • Fremantle finished seventh in both 2017 and 2018, but has had an outstanding start to the season, undefeated and the highest-scoring side in the competition. After wins against Melbourne, Brisbane and Collingwood, Adelaide looms as the side's biggest test so far.
  • Despite booting 10 goals against Geelong, the Crows have rejigged their forward line, with strong-bodied forwards Chloe Scheer (suspension) and Sarah Perkins (omitted) out, and speedy runners Jenna McCormick and Hannah Martin in.
  • This will be the first time Fremantle's Kellie Gibson comes up against her former side in an official capacity after heading west following the 2017 premiership. The forward has played two practice matches against the Crows but missed the 2018 home and away match with a hip flexor injury. 
Chloe Scheer is suspended for the clash with Fremantle

COLLINGWOOD v GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY
2.05pm AEDT, Sunday, February 24
Morwell Recreation Reserve, Morwell, Vic 

  • Both teams have everything to play for. The only winless sides in the competition will be desperate to get four points on the board and keep their faint finals hopes alive.
  • Ash Brazill has been Collingwood's best player this season but will miss the match with concussion. It leaves a big hole in the backline, especially against a side featuring powerful forwards Cora Staunton, Yvonne Bonner, Christina Bernardi and Jacinda Barclay.
  • Magpie midfielder Melissa Kuys will play her first match for the year after Achilles surgery in September, and along with the returning Emma Grant, will add some experience and stability to a young line-up. 

MELBOURNE v NORTH MELBOURNE
4.05pm AEDT, Sunday, February 24
Casey Fields, Cranbourne East, Vic 

  • Can the North Melbourne train keep rolling? The Kangaroos have steamrolled everyone in their path, but Casey Fields has been known for throwing up a few odd results and unusual weather events.
  • Harriet Cordner and Meg Downie are forming a powerful backline duo for the Demons, but will need support from Sarah Lampard, Ainslie Kemp and Chantel Emonson to counter the multi-pronged Kangaroos forward line.
  • Demon Lauren Pearce and Kangaroo Emma King have been two of the strongest rucks in the competition this year in different ways. Pearce has dominated the middle while King's been most powerful moving up the ground. Sunday's match-up could go some way to influencing All Australian selection.

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