THERE are just four rounds remaining in the 2021 NAB AFLW season, meaning teams are desperate to lock up a top-six spot.
Collingwood v Western Bulldogs looks to be the pick of the games this round, while AFLW returns to Canberra for the first time since round seven, 2019.
Friday, March 5
Richmond v North Melbourne at the Swinburne Centre, 5.10pm AEDT
- It's an early first bounce ahead of Richmond's AFL AAMI Community Series match at Marvel Stadium. The Tigers will be flying high after their breakthrough win against Geelong, but North Melbourne looms as a tougher challenge. Four of Courtney Wakefield's seven goals have come in first quarters this year.
- When North Melbourne flexes its midfield muscle, it's a scary prospect indeed. Jasmine Garner, Emma Kearney, Ash Riddell and Jenna Bruton combined seamlessly against Carlton, wearing down the inexperienced engine room and piling on the pain late.
- Tip: This should be a much closer affair than the last time these sides met in 2020 (56 points), but the Roos are still a bridge too far for the developing Tigers. 22 points.
WATCH IT LIVE Tigers v Kangaroos
Saturday, March 6
Greater Western Sydney v Brisbane at Manuka Oval, 3.10pm AEDT
- Coach Alan McConnell called out the forward line structure in last week's loss to the Western Bulldogs, and it'll be something the Giants will have to straighten up quickly coming up against a hardened, experienced Brisbane backline of Kate Lutkins, Shannon Campbell, Bree Koenen, Emma Zielke and Nat Grider.
- The Lions were happy to grit their teeth and win ugly against Fremantle last week, having previously piled on the goals against weaker sides. Emily Bates has tapped into a rich vein of form, recording a season-high 26 disposals against Fremantle. Her previous high this year was 19.
- Tip: The Giants generally perform well at their home away from home in Canberra, but Brisbane has just knocked off the might of Fremantle. Lions by 17 points.
WATCH IT LIVE Giants v Lions
Adelaide v Gold Coast at Norwood Oval, 4.40pm ACDT
- Aside from one (fairly big) hiccup against Fremantle, it's been smooth sailing for Adelaide so far this season. Coach Matthew Clarke would have been thrilled with their full-ground defence against St Kilda, and ability to then capitalise after turning the ball over, more often than not inside 50.
- Life just got more difficult for the Suns, faced with a fifth straight road trip (Metricon Stadium is unavailable this weekend due to a caravan show) and talismanic forward Sarah Perkins ruled out for the season with a knee injury. However, they did record a season-high 13 scoring shots against West Coast last week.
- Tip: Unfortunately for the winless Suns, this looms as another tough challenge with the Crows intent on keeping hold of their top-six spot. Adelaide by 29 points.
WATCH IT LIVE Crows v Suns
Melbourne v St Kilda at Casey Fields, 7.10pm AEDT
- After scoring a cumulative 25.10 over its first three games, Melbourne's inaccuracy woes have returned with a bang (or whimper), kicking 3.20 across the past two weeks. They've been getting plenty of opportunities, but whether they're from viable scoring positions is another question.
- It's been a tough and inconsistent second season from St Kilda, which is understandable from an expansion side. The Saints were stagnant and well corralled by a disciplined Adelaide full-ground press, and will be hoping to rediscover their run this week.
- Tip: Melbourne has to win this game to remain in touch with the top six - and it have the firepower to do it. Dees by 13 points.
WATCH IT LIVE Demons v Saints
Sunday, March 7
Carlton v Geelong at Ikon Park, 12.40pm AEDT
- A game against a team with a percentage of 27.5 was conveniently just what the doctor ordered for the flaky Blues, who will be boosted by the return of AFLW best and fairest Maddy Prespakis from suspension. Carlton has percentage woes of its own, sitting one game and 59 per cent out of the top six.
- A nightmare scenario for Geelong would be to have its best two midfielders, Nina Morrison and Liv Purcell, sidelined with ACLs, and that's exactly what's happened. The Cats rank last for goals, third-last for disposals and fourth-last for tackling.
- Tip: The tide has to turn eventually for Geelong, but it won't be this week. Carlton by 34 points.
WATCH IT LIVE Blues v Cats
Collingwood v Western Bulldogs at Victoria Park, 2.40pm AEDT
- Five wins on the trot, already a club record, and a sixth tantalisingly looming on the horizon. The Pies will go two games clear on top if they get the four points on Sunday. Collingwood ranks first for average disposals, second for handballs, but tellingly, eighth for kicks.
- The Dogs are also on the march this season, recording four straight victories. The last time the AFLW side achieved this was at the tail end of 2018 and start of 2019. One area of concern would be the spread of goalkickers, particularly against a strong Magpie defence, with just five players kicking majors this year.
- Tip: This could be where the Bulldog bandwagon shudders to a halt. The Magpies have a year or two on the Dogs' rebuild and are slightly deeper all around the field. Pies by 15 points.
WATCH IT LIVE Magpies v Bulldogs
West Coast v Fremantle at Optus Stadium, 1.40pm AWST
- West Coast will be hoping to continue its winning momentum into this week, but it could be a tough ask in the return fixture against Fremantle. Just over a third of the list are on this week's injury list, with seven players facing fitness tests in order to play.
- We may well look back to the round five result as "the loss Fremantle had to have", should the Dockers rebound in style and storm their way to a flag. They just shaded the Lions in the midfield, but goalkicking accuracy (1.8) was a big issue last week.
- Tip: If there was a week not to get Fremantle, it was after losing its first game since the 2019 preliminary final. The first part of the RAC Derby could be a very one-sided affair. Dockers by 35 points.
WATCH IT LIVE Eagles v Dockers
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