Round six preview: Race for finals heating up in penultimate week

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

GEELONG v FREMANTLE

2.35pm AEDT, Saturday, March 9
GMHBA Stadium, Geelong, Vic 

- A win for Geelong all but guarantees a top-two finish in Conference B and a preliminary final spot, whereas Fremantle (third) needs a big win to keep pressure on Conference A leaders Adelaide and North Melbourne.

- The Dockers' attacking approach has been revelation this year, with the team increasing its average score from 33 last year to 50 this season. However, the forwards – without the concussed Kellie Gibson – will have a tough task against Geelong's defenders, who kept Brisbane to the lowest ever AFLW score of eight points last weekend.

- Geelong VFLW recruit Renee Garing has flown under the radar in the Cats’ midfield this season but is one of the team’s most important pressure players, averaging 7.6 tackles a game (top-four in the competition).

COLLINGWOOD v NORTH MELBOURNE

4.40pm AEDT, Saturday, March 9
Marvel Stadium, Docklands, Vic 

- With a home preliminary final still a possibility, North Melbourne will be looking to make up some of the 40 per cent separating itself and Conference A leader, Adelaide.

- Collingwood's quest for its first win for the season continues, but there were some promising signs last week against Carlton. The Pies led for large portions of the game and found goals through youngsters Katie Lynch, Jordy Allen and Darcy Guttridge, but will find this week’s opposition a bit tougher.

- Young Kangaroo forward Daria Bannister will play her first game since rupturing her left ACL in round one of the 2018 season, when she was playing for Western Bulldogs. She's highly rated and one to watch. 

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WESTERN BULLDOGS v MELBOURNE

7.10pm AEDT, Saturday, March 9
Marvel Stadium, Docklands, Vic

- These 'traditional rivals' – they played one another in several exhibition matches in the years leading up to the start of the AFLW competition – will meet for the first time since their thrilling virtual elimination final last year, when the Bulldogs just got over the line to earn a Grand Final position.

- Melbourne is sitting fourth in the strong Conference A, only four points behind the logjam of teams in first to third. Percentage isn't an issue for the high-scoring Dees, who have an average winning margin of 32 points.

- It's been a disappointing year for the reigning premiers in the Bulldogs, who have struggled to fill holes created by players leaving for expansion clubs and injuries. Classy forwards Izzy Huntington (right ACL injury) and Brooke Lochland (right leg fracture) returned last week and will be better for the runs. Their presence will allow Katie Brennan to be a marking target further up the ground. 

ADELAIDE v GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY

1.35pm CDT, Sunday, March 10
Unley Oval, Unley, SA

- Is Erin Phillips in better form than she was in her best-and-fairest winning year of 2017? Her numbers would suggest she marginally is, averaging 21.2 disposals, 1.6 goals and 5.8 clearances in 2019 compared to 20 touches, 1.3 goals and five clearances in 2017.

- Interestingly, despite having vastly different seasons, these two teams average the most clearances in the competition (26.2 for the Crows and 24.4 for the Giants). The Giants have struggled with ball movement and use after they win a clearance, making this a very intriguing midfield clash.

- The Giants have the lowest average tackle count (50) in the competition.

CARLTON v BRISBANE

4.05pm AEDT, Sunday, March 10
Ikon Park, Carlton North, Vic

- This is a virtual elimination final for Conference B. Carlton is second on eight points with a percentage of 89.6, while Brisbane third on eight points with a percentage of 71.4. The Blues face the Bulldogs in the final round of the home and away season, while the Lions play the Magpies.

- Brisbane will be looking to rebound in a big way after managing just eight points last weekend against Geelong. It's been a roller-coaster season for the Lions, who just the week before kicked their season-high of 49 points.

- Will Tayla Harris finally shake off the curse of the goalpost? After three posters against Geelong in round four, Harris' first kick for goal in round five hit the post. In comparatively low-scoring games where percentage is vital, Harris will be hoping to have her kicking boots on.

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