Full AFLW R8 preview: Crunch battles loom in run to finals

JUST TWO home and away rounds remain in the 2021 NAB AFLW season, and teams are still jostling for a finals position.

Brisbane hosts North Melbourne in the match of the round, while Fremantle and Melbourne should also be a cracker.

And who will win consecutive games for the first time, West Coast or Richmond?

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Friday, March 19

Gold Coast v Carlton at Metricon Stadium, 4.10pm AEST

  • Frustratingly, the Suns still remain without a win, and with two rounds remaining, time is starting to run out. Maddi Levi had an instant impact in her return up forward, but the Suns have struggled to maintain possession on the outside, ranked last for average uncontested possessions.
  • There's no two ways about it, it's crunch time for Carlton. The Blues have to win big on Friday night – and again the following week – and hope results go their way in order to qualify for finals. They effectively outplayed the powerful Fremantle for all but 10 minutes last week.
  • Tip: Unfortunately for Gold Coast, Carlton is here on a mission and the Suns are standing in their path. Blues by 27 points.

WATCH IT LIVE Suns v Blues

Watch it LIVE: Suns v Blues from 4.10pm AEST. Picture: AFL Digital

Saturday, March 20

Geelong v Greater Western Sydney at GMHBA Stadium, 1.10pm AEDT

  • A short turnaround for Geelong, having played in the heat in Perth on Monday. They'll be looking to rebound after comfortably their worst performance for the year, struggling with the Eagles' intensity and as has been the case all year, breaking down across half-forward.
  • GWS will be full of confidence after a comprehensive win over St Kilda and have a good (but short) record against Geelong. The wet-weather specialists won't have the rain on their side this week but will be looking to out-run the Cats on the outside, an area of concern for both teams.
  • Tip: It really depends on what form Geelong produces – the confidence and run against Carlton or the confusion against West Coast? GWS may have too much power out of the middle. Giants by 15 points.

WATCH IT LIVE Cats v Giants

Watch it LIVE: Cats v Giants from 1.10pm AEDT. Picture: AFL Digital

Collingwood v St Kilda at Victoria Park, 3.10pm AEDT

  • Collingwood was seriously tested against Brisbane last week, losing its first match for the year and integral defenders Lauren Butler (hamstring) and Jordy Allen (foot) for the season. The new defensive mix will be something to watch for, as will Bri Davey's bounce back after being well-held by Cathy Svarc.
  • What a week to draw Collingwood for the beleaguered St Kilda. The Saints will be buoyed by the availability of Rosie Dillon, who copped a knock to her larynx last week, while Nat Exon (shoulder) may also boost the side who were comfortably outplayed by the Giants.
  • Tip: Collingwood is still pushing for a top-two spot and home preliminary final, meaning it'll be keen to put the foot down. Pies by 32 points.

WATCH IT LIVE Magpies v Saints

Watch it LIVE: Magpies v Saints from 3.10pm AEDT. Picture: AFL Digital

Brisbane v North Melbourne at the Gabba, 4.10pm AEST

  • Brisbane is flying high, winning three consecutive games – against Fremantle, GWS and Collingwood – on the road. Cathy Svarc is curating a long list of tagging victims, while the Lions are never solely reliant on one player to star, with Emily Bates, Ally Anderson and Dakota Davidson featuring in recent weeks.
  • After a mid-season slip-up, losing to Collingwood and Melbourne, North Melbourne has just done what it needs to do without ever quite hitting top form. Things get incredibly difficult now, with games against two powerhouses in Brisbane and Fremantle.
  • Tip: These teams are the short-kick queens of the competition, ranked first (Roos) and second (Lions). North Melbourne might have the edge in the midfield, but the Lions have the dominance around the ground. Brisbane by eight points.

WATCH IT LIVE Lions v Kangaroos

Watch it LIVE: Lions v Kangaroos from 4.10pm AEST. Picture: AFL Digital

Sunday, March 21

Richmond v West Coast at the Swinburne Centre, 12.40pm AEDT

  • Can Richmond record a consecutive win for the first time, and its third victory overall? The Tigers showed good maturity when challenged in the third quarter by the Suns, and Katie Brennan has tapped into a rare vein of form, starring up forward.
  • West Coast produced its best ever game of footy against a hapless Geelong, hassling on the inside and tearing the Cats apart on the outside. They've now shown they can pile on the goals, which will have given the team enormous confidence after a tough 18 months.
  • Tip: Both teams coming into this match after a win would have raised eyebrows at the start of the season, but they're in the best form we've seen from the fledgling sides. The Tigers may have too much midfield firepower, especially with Emma Swanson suspended. Richmond by 13 points.

WATCH IT LIVE Tigers v Eagles

Watch it LIVE: Tigers v Eagles from 12.40pm AEDT. Picture: AFL Digital

Adelaide v Western Bulldogs at Norwood Oval, 3.40pm ADCT

  • Adelaide will be looking to rebound from a surprise and poor loss to Melbourne, beaten in the clearances and conceding a whopping 40 inside 50s. The Crows still lead the competition in contested possessions and are second for disposals.
  • After two straight losses to more experienced sides in Collingwood and North Melbourne, the Bulldogs desperately need a win to keep their finals hopes alive. Izzy Huntington is averaging 2.6 contested marks a game – the next best, Maddy Boyd, is on 1.6 – but faces a fierce battle against Sarah Allan.
  • Tip: Adelaide should be stung by its performance against Melbourne, and despite a healthy percentage, would prefer to wrap up a finals spot this week rather than next against Collingwood. Crows by 23 points.  

WATCH IT LIVE Crows v Bulldogs

Watch it LIVE: Crows v Bulldogs from 3.40pm ACDT. Picture: AFL Digital

 

Fremantle v Melbourne at Fremantle Oval, 3.10pm AWST

  • Fremantle should be riding high after its come-from-behind win over Carlton. Kiara Bowers is seemingly unstoppable in the midfield at the moment, rebounding from a quiet first quarter where she had just four disposals to finish with 28. She's now favourite for the AFLW best and fairest.
  • The equation is simple for Melbourne – its currently in the top six but is vulnerable to dropping out if the Dogs or Blues get on a roll. Pinching a win here would be ideal, but if the Dees are to lose, keeping it to a manageable margin will be key.
  • Tip: Fremantle rarely loses at Fremantle Oval, but Melbourne pulled one out of the box against Adelaide at Casey Fields last week. Saying that, the Dockers may have too many forward targets. Freo by 14 points.

WATCH IT LIVE Dockers v Demons

Watch it LIVE: Dockers v Demons from 3.10pm AWST. Picture: AFL Digital

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