AFLW practice match wrap: Dees take down Pies, Roos, Saints, Tigers flex muscle

>> Check out all the latest news from the AFLW practice matches played on Saturday and Sunday.

MELBOURNE 6.2 (38) def COLLINGWOOD 3.6 (24), Saturday, Jan 25, Olympic Park Oval 

A comparatively experienced Melbourne outfit – led by returning skipper Daisy Pearce – were too good for Collingwood, winning by 14 points.

Pearce played her first game, after taking a break for pregnancy, primarily across half-back, as opposed to her customary midfield position.

Team spirit: Melbourne players embrace ahead of their practice match against Collingwood. Picture AFL Photos

New recruit Libby Birch was outstanding in defence, combining well with Meg Downie and Harriet Cordner and reading the play well. 

With Tegan Cunningham (quad) and Kate Hore missing, and Eden Zanker in the ruck to cover for the injured Lauren Pearce (knee), the forward line connection proved to be an issue at times.

The Dees are confident Cunningham and Hore will play in round one against North Melbourne, as will Lily Mithen (ankle) and Aliesha Newman (head knock), who suffered minor injuries in the game.

Forward Ainslie Kemp also suffered an ankle injury. As of Monday, the full extent of the issue was unknown, but initial signs point to the 22-year-old missing no more than a few weeks.

Melbourne's Ainslie Kemp is helped from the field during the Dees' practice match against Collingwood. Picture: AFL Photos

For the Pies, Jaimee Lambert was as sharp as ever, a constant threat in the centre square and around the ground, while Chloe Molloy led hard and danced around opponents in the forward line.

All-Australian Molloy was a junior forward and, with Collingwood having struggled to put a score on the board in 2019, could find herself in attack more often than not in 2020.

Her move to the other end of the ground allowed 19-year-old Lauren Butler to shine in defence, showing composure and confidence well beyond her years.

Sophie Alexander picked up a nasty cut above her eye as the only injury concern for the Pies.

COLLINGWOOD   0.4   0.5   2.6   3.6   (24)
MELBOURNE   1.1   2.1   4.2   6.2   (38)

GOALS
Collingwood:
Lambert, Membrey, Sheridan
Melbourne: Kemp, Sherriff, Heath, Hanks, Cordner, Scott

WESTERN BULLDOGS 8.11 (59) def GEELONG 7.5 (47), Saturday, Jan 25, VU Whitten Oval

An inaccurate Western Bulldogs side claimed a 12-point pre-season win over Geelong at Whitten Oval.

The day was marred by a hand injury to newly appointed captain Ellie Blackburn; the midfielder came off in the second quarter and did not return.

She'll receive scans later this week. 

The Cats built a two-goal lead early in the third quarter, with usual midfielders Richelle Cranston and Renee Garing doing damage deep in attack. 

Geelong's Richelle Cranston celebrates a goal during the practice match against the Dogs. Picture: AFL Photos

The hard-tackling Garing's move forward looks to be a response to the Cats' goalkicking woes of 2019, when they were the lowest-scoring side in the competition.

The Bulldogs showcased an exciting brand of football, leaving the forward 50 open for speedy forwards Kirsten McLeod and draftee Nell Morris-Dalton to run into an open goal. 

At three-quarter time, the scores were level at 34 points each, but Geelong (5.4) was much more efficient than the Dogs (4.10).

The Bulldogs were dominant in the last quarter, with Elisabeth Georgeostathis, Bonnie Toogood and No.1 draft pick Gabby Newton all having a strong influence on the shifting momentum – Jourdan Canil.

WESTERN BULLDOGS   2.2   2.5   4.10   8.11   (59)
GEELONG   2.3   3.4   5.4   7.5   (47)

GOALS
Western Bulldogs:
 Toogood 3, McLeod 2, Moody, Morris-Dalton, Marshall
Geelong: Garing 3, McWilliams 2, Cranston, Ivey  

NORTH MELBOURNE 8.3 (51) def CARLTON 6.7 (43), Saturday, Jan 25, Ikon Park

A scintillating first-quarter onslaught from North Melbourne proved to be too much for a fast-finishing Carlton, winning by eight points at Ikon Park.

The Roos piled on the goals early, kicking five to nil in the opening stanza.

The inclusion of Tasmanian ruck Abbey Green to the North line-up means that Emma King will be able to play forward for much longer periods in 2020, and she was a handful in attack for most of this match.

Emma King could be a handful near the goals in 2020. Picture: AFL Photos

Ellie Gavalas has been a valuable addition to North Melbourne's midfield brigade, forming a dangerously tough trio with Ash Riddell and Jenna Bruton.

Defender Tahlia Randall may come under match review scrutiny for a bump/head knock on Lauren Brazzale, which stopped the game to allow the Blue to be taken off the field and sent her to hospital for precautionary scans.

Carlton coach Daniel Harford was pleased with how his side turned things around, but not overly happy with the slow start.

Lucy McEvoy, taken with pick No.2 in the NAB AFLW Draft, showed a clean pair of heels out of the centre, while the Blues' pace up forward – including Georgia Gee and Brooke Walker – will be an issue for opposition teams.

Tayla Harris was also a constant threat both in the air and on the ground, although she wasn't thrilled with receiving a hair ruffle from Beth Lynch after conceding a 50-metre penalty.

CARLTON   6.7 (43)
NORTH MELBOURNE   8.3 (51)

GOALS
Carlton:
 Walker 2, Harris 2, S. Hosking, McEvoy
North Melbourne: King 2, Garner 2, Bateman, Bannister, Abbatangelo, Ashmore 

ST KILDA 6.10 (46) def GOLD COAST 3.6 (24), Saturday, Jan 25, Southport Oval

In a battle of the new sides, an inaccurate St Kilda comfortably accounted for a rusty Gold Coast by 22 points, recording 16 scoring shots to nine at Southport Oval.

The Suns were having their first hitout of the season, with last week's match simulation against Brisbane called off due to wild weather.

We're accustomed to seeing Leah Kaslar anchor Brisbane's defence, but it may be a case of new club, new role for the former Lions skipper, playing up forward against the Saints.

Gold Coast's Leah Kaslar could have a new role in 2020. Picture: AFL Photos

Former Giant Britt Perry was one of the Suns' best, booting two and keeping the Saints' defence busy, while midfielders Kate Surman, Hannah Dunn and Jacqui Yorston were also prominent.

With Gold Coast the only club yet to appoint a skipper, Sam Virgo led the side for the day.

The Saints were actually one point down at the main break, before a strong second half saw them hold the Suns to just two points while adding 25 of their own.

Former VFLW player Olivia Vesely was one of St Kilda's best in the midfield, while ex-Blues utility Tilly Lucas-Rodd looks to have locked herself into an attacking defence role at the Saints.

In promising signs, young midfielders Georgia Patrikios, Nicola Xenos and Tarni White all stamped their authority on the match at various stages.

They may be a new side, but the Saints have an AFLW-experienced forward line, with Kate Shierlaw, Jess Sedunary and Kate McCarthy all hitting the scoreboard.

GOLD COAST   2.1   3.4   3.5   3.6   (24)
ST KILDA   2.2   3.3   5.9   6.10   (46)

GOALS
Gold Coast:
 Perry 2, Kaslar
St Kilda: Shierlaw 2, Sedunary 2, McCarthy, Vesely 


ADELAIDE 8.4 (52) def FREMANTLE 5.5 (35), Saturday, Jan 25, David Grays Arena

A pair of knee injuries unfortunately headlined Adelaide's 17-point win over Fremantle, with Crow Deni Varnhagan and Docker Aine Tighe both unable to finish the match in Mandurah.

The pair will have scans later this week, while Sophie Li also suffered a concussion.

A scary six-goal second quarter from the Crows – without Erin Phillips and Chelsea Randall – proved to be the difference in the game.

The Dockers impressively clamped down on the reigning premiers in the second half, but the damage was done, having leaked far too many goals from close range.

Talking 38-year-old Courtney Gum out of retirement looks like a Matthew Clarke-masterstroke, with the 2018 AFLPA MVP turning back the clock in a forward role.

The Crows could be on a winner after talking former Giant Courtney Gum out of retirement. Picture: AFL Photos

Sarah Allan and Marijana Rajcic were at their best in defence, while Anne Hatchard is set to continue a sparkling 2019 in the midfield.

Key forward Gemma Houghton was a constant threat up forward for Fremantle, while Kara Antonio (nee Donnellan) accumulated possessions at will running on the ball.

Livewire Gabby O'Sullivan worked hard in a four-quarter performance at half-forward, while 18-year-old Mim Strom battled valiantly full-time in the ruck once Tighe went down.

Mature-age draftee Janelle Cuthbertson looks set for a round one debut in a key position post, having played both ends of the ground against the Crows.

ADELAIDE   1.1   7.3   7.3   8.4   (52)
FREMANTLE   2.1   2.2   3.4   5.5   (35)

GOALS
Adelaide: Forth 2, Gum 2, Mules, Jones, N. Allen, Newman
Fremantle: Houghton 3, E. Antonio, O'Sullivan


GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 5.7 (37) def BRISBANE 0.3 (3), Sunday, Jan 26, Tom Will Oval

It could be a long season ahead for Brisbane, failing to kick a goal in a 34-point loss to GWS at Olympic Park.

It must be acknowledged the Lions were coming into their first practice match, while the Giants already battled Adelaide last week, but Craig Starcevich's team struggled up forward throughout the game without Jess Wuetschner (recovering from a lightning strike).

In a very scrappy affair, second-year GWS midfielder Alyce Parker looked a class above, combining very well with ruck recruit Jess Allan.

Alyce Parker was a class above in the practice game against Brisbane. Picture: AFL Photos

The former Crow's move to the Giants raised questions about their ruck combinations, but the answer appears to be Allan in conjunction with Erin McKinnon, with Ingrid Nielsen (two goals) playing as a key forward.

The Giants' backline has played together for a few years now and it showed, with Pepa Randall, Tanya Hetherington, Ellie Brush and Nicola Barr combining well.

Draftee Catherine Svarc provided a spark out of defence for Brisbane and the tireless Emily Bates played well in the middle of the ground.

Defender Shannon Campbell was her industrious self, while there were promising signs from youngsters Nat Grider and Gabby Collingwood, playing with a lot more confidence.

Talls Jessy Keeffe and Jesse Wardlaw found plenty of it and top draft pick Lily Postlethwaite provided a few nice cameos through the midfield.

GWS   5.7 (37)
BRISBANE   0.3 (3)

GOALS
GWS: Nielsen 2, Schmidt, Beeson, Bonner
Brisbane: Nil


RICHMOND 7.9 (51) def WEST COAST 3.5 (23), Sunday, Jan 26, Swinburne Centre

Richmond was comfortable victors over fellow new side West Coast, winning by 28 points at the Swinburne Centre. 

It was a four-quarter performance from the Tigers, while the Eagles would be ruing some missed shots at goal in the second term which relieved pressure when the match was still in the balance.

Christina Bernardi may be coming off a serious foot injury that sidelined her for the entire VFLW season, but the forward was at her classy best, causing havoc with hard two-way running. 

New skipper Katie Brennan provided a calm head in the middle of the ground in the absence of Mon Conti (basketball), while key forward Courtney Wakefield had dangerous hands leading out of the square. 

Katie Brennan celebrates a goal during the Tigers' clash with West Coast. Picture: AFL Photos

Lauren Tesoriero made a successful return from a torn ACL. Having chosen not to have surgery, the veteran Tiger had an instant impact after being injected into the middle in the second half.  

Small Imahra Cameron has the honour of being West Coast's first ever draftee, and she demonstrated why with some electric work and a decent boot bursting out of stoppages. 

Irish rookie Grace Kelly was a strong target up forward, while the defensive combination of Sophie McDonald, McKenzie Dowrick and the experienced Talia Radan was strong. 

Defender Ashton Hill snuck forward to kick a stunning goal from the pocket, while experienced duo Dana Hooker and Emma Swanson were consistent in the midfield. 

RICHMOND   2.0   4.0   5.7   7.9   (51)
WEST COAST   0.1   2.5   2.5   3.5   (23)

GOALS
Richmond:
Stahl 3, Bernardi 2, Wakefield, Brennan 
West Coast: Tester, Gilmore, Hill

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