Brisbane has been rocked by a season-ending injury to a second star as Adelaide defended its decision to bring back captain Chelsea Randall, who hurt her hamstring again.
Brisbane forward Gabby Collingwood’s return to the AFLW this year has ended in heartbreak after scans on Monday revealed a season-ending knee injury.
The 23-year-old was back on the footy field last Saturday, playing her first AFLW game after a two year recovery from an ACL injury in her left knee.
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However, her return has been cruelled by a season-ending knee injury in her right knee, with scans revealing a ruptured ACL and MCL.
The heartbreaking injury will see Collingwood sidelined for the rest of the season as the club supports her through her rehabilitation.
“It’s difficult news to swallow, particularly after Gabby worked so hard to get back into the side after her first ACL injury,” Lions head of women’s football Breanna Brock said.
“Fortunately, she’s in good spirits and the team has really rallied behind her over the past few days as she looks ahead to rehabilitation again.”
It comes after the club lost veteran Kate Lutkins to a season-ending knee injury during their Round 1 clash.
Lions tall forward Taylor Smith is also recovering from an ankle sprain suffered in Tuesday’s match against Carlton and will test her fitness during training this week.
It comes as Adelaide declared it did not rush AFLW captain Chelsea Randall back too soon after she re-injured her hamstring in the Crows win over Melbourne.
Randall limped to the bench during the second quarter of the Crows big win over the Demons at Norwood Oval on Saturday.
The Crows captain had missed their previous match against West Coast with a hamstring injury after suffering the knock in Round 2 and Randall grasped at the same area she had injured two weeks prior following a marking contest.
The Crows on Monday ruled Randall out of this weekend’s Round 5 clash against Carlton.
Adelaide AFLW head of football Phil Harper said they were expecting Randall to miss multiple games.
But he said Randall had done all the necessary training leading up to the match and ticked all the boxes before she was named to take on the Demons.
“She tested really well before the game, however a game is different to testing,” Harper told the club’s website.
“She’ll probably be out for at least a couple of weeks but we don’t know the full extent yet.
“Chelsea definitely won’t be playing this week and possibly longer.
“We will know more once the results of her scan are known.”
Crows midfielder Ebony Marinoff said she was confident Randall had not been rushed back.
“It was actually really disappointing because last week she was really flying on the track as Randall does,” Marinoff said.
“She definitely did all the right things.
“They (medicos) will do all the right things but potentially just be a little bit more cautious given the fact she ticked all the boxes (last week) and still tweaked it a little bit.
“Because she ticked all the boxes to play, that would be really silly not to play your captain when she is capable of playing, so I don’t think there’s any reason that she shouldn’t have played.”
The Crows are one of two unbeaten sides in the AFLW so far, along with Fremantle.
Suns make AFLW history in win over Tigers
The Gold Coast have claimed back-to-back wins for the first time in their AFLW history with a tight five-point triumph over Richmond at Metricon Stadium on Sunday.
The Suns were winless throughout 2020 and broke the drought against West Coast two weeks ago before being sidelined last week after Covid swept through the Gold Coast camp.
Midfielder Ali Drennan had 27 possessions for the Suns – including 11 in the final quarter – to go with nine clearances, Jamie Stanton had 20 touches for the home side while Tara Bohanna and Sarah Walker were a constant threat up forward for the Gold Coast.
Goals to Kate Surman and Cheyenne Hammond in the last quarter put the Suns in front in the seesawing contest and they held on in the tense closing minutes.
The Gold Coast dominated territory and possession in the opening term but only took a five-point lead into quarter-time. The Suns led inside 50 entries 13-2, clearances by 7-2 and enjoyed a 27-17 edge in contested possession.
However, they were only able to kick the one goal through Bohanna while they butchered a number of golden scoring opportunities in front of the sticks.
Richmond’s only response was a goal to Katie Brennan who relieved teammate Christina Bernardi of the footy who was suffering from a dislocated finger from the marking contest.
The Tigers kicked the first two goals of the second term through Tessa Lavey and Sarah Dargan to hit the lead but the Suns finished the first half with all the momentum after
Bohanna and Perkins kicked truly to give the home side a slender four-point cushion.
Richmond kept the Suns scoreless in the third term and hit the front after goals to Brennan and Kate Dempsey handed the visitors an eight-point advantage at the last change.
Gold Coast: 1.5 3.7 3.7 5.9 (39)
Richmond: 1.0 3.3 5.3 5.4 (34)
Gold Coast: Bohanna 2, Perkins, Surman, Hammond
Richmond: Brennan 2, Lavey, Dargan, Dempsey
3: Ali Drennan
2: Tara Bohanna
1: Monique Conti
Kangaroos hop into AFLW top four
North Melbourne have leapt into the AFLW top four after defeating Carlton by 30 points at Princes Park on Sunday.
Aside from a brief 10-minute window across the first and second quarters, the Kangaroos were rarely troubled, kicking six goals in a row before cruising to victory 7.9 (51) to 3.3 (21).
The result leaves Carlton’s finals hopes precariously placed. The Blues are stuck on one win nearing the halfway mark of the season and will probably need to win at least five of their last six games to make the top six.
The Kangaroos smashed the Blues in the territory battle with more than double their inside 50s (46-21), and out-tackled Carlton (45-33) while also comfortably winning the clearances (23-15) and contested possessions (104-92).
North trio Ash Riddell (30), Jenna Bruton (28) and Mia King (25) and were prolific, combining for 83 disposals (25 contested) and nine clearances as North’s movement of the ball up the middle of the ground regularly split the Blues open.
Emma King provided a strong focal point for the Kangaroos in the forward half, taking a game-high seven marks, while Daria Bannister and Alice O’Loughlin combined for four goals.
For Carlton, captain Kerryn Harrington (18 touches) did a great job keeping North’s Tahlia Randall to one goal, while Maddie Prespakis (21), Paige Trudgeon (19) and Keeley Sherar (19) also tried hard.
North Melbourne absolutely dominated the first quarter, but despite registering the first 13 inside 50s of the contest and tripling the Blues for clearances (7-2), could not convert those whopping discrepancies onto the scoreboard and headed into the first change with just a one-point lead.
The Kangaroos had to wait until their 12th forward entry for their first goal, while the Blues did so with just their second entry moments before the siren to nullify all of North’s hard work.
The Roos’ lead completely evaporated when Carlton’s Darcy Vescio snapped a ripper from 30m out early in the second term after selling candy to Jasmine Ferguson for her first goal of the season, but majors from Randall and Bannister (two) saw North wrest back control.
The visitors headed into the final period with a 15-point lead, and finally got rewarded for their efforts, booting the first three goals, including a pair to O’Loughlin, to emphatically seal the deal.
Late in the second quarter with the Blues trailing by a point, Harrington made a costly error deep in defence when her chip to Jess Dal Pos went out on the full. That gave Bannister a very tough chance on goal from 35m out on the boundary line, but the forward made it look easy, threading the eye of the needle in spectacular fashion to restore her side’s seven-point lead.
Moody muffs it
Carlton’s Breann Moody suffered a similar fate to her captain late in the final term when her kick across North’s goal slewed off the side of the boot and also went out of bounds on the full. And just like Bannister did in the first term, O’Loughlin kicked an equally brilliant goal from the sharp angle, bending it back superbly for her first AFLW goal to extend her team’s lead to 30 points.
Brooke bangs it home
Carlton’s Brooke Walker brilliantly got a goal against the run of play late in the first, taking the advantage after her teammate won a free kick, waltzing to 40m out and dobbing a ripper on the run to undo all of the Kangaroos’ good work in the first term.
BLUES 1.1, 2.2, 2.3, 3.3 (21)
KANGAROOS 1.2, 3.4, 4.6, 7.9 (51)
Blues: Harrington, Trudgeon, Prespakis, Sherar, Moody.
Kangaroos: Riddell, Bruton, M.King, Em.King, Kearney, Bannister, O’Loughlin.
Blues: Walker, Vescio, Gee.
Kangaroos: Bannister 2, O’Loughlin 2, Bateman, Randall, Ashmore.
Kangaroos: Abbatangelo (left leg).
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
3 A.Riddell (NM)
2 J.Bruton (NM)
1 M.King (NM)
Crows still unbeaten after Phillips blitz
– Jason Phelan
Adelaide remains unbeaten after superstar Erin Phillips fired the Crows to a clinical 14-point win over Melbourne, but the victory came at a cost with skipper Chelsea Randall injured again.
It was a clash of two unbeaten heavyweights of the competition, but the in-form Crows rained blows down on the Demons, who were goalless in the first three quarters, to score a 4.11 (35) to 3.3 (21) win at Norwood Oval on Saturday.
Adelaide relentlessly harassed the visitors to lead by 32 points at three-quarter time before Melbourne finally found a way through the competition’s top-ranked defence to kick the last three goals of the match.
“The pressure through the first three quarters was outstanding,” coach Matthew Clarke said.
“It was still solid in the last, but we had a few lapses.
“Ultimately, with good teams you’re not going to have it all your own way so we’re really happy with the result.”
Phillips was the focal point with three goals, with Ebony Marinoff (26 possessions) and Anne Hatchard (29) leading a midfield unit that refused the visitors time and space at every turn.
For the Demons, Eliza McNamara (22) and Tyla Hanks (20) battled hard, but didn’t have enough help in an uneven performance.
With Justine Mules, Stevie-Lee Thompson and Danielle Ponter all in Covid-19 protocols, Adelaide was missing key players in the forward half.
But Phillips helped set the tone with two goals in a first-quarter blitz that saw the Crows lay eight more tackles than their opponents and go inside attacking 50 16 times to Melbourne’s four.
The superstar snapped brilliantly in traffic to open the scoring and beat her opponent to a loose ball in the goalsquare, to soccer through her second that set up a 12-point lead at the first change.
Randall, who missed her side’s last-start win over West Coast with a hamstring injury, hobbled to the bench five minutes into the second quarter.
The star skipper grasped at the same area she injured two weeks ago after a marking contest and left the game for good.
Randall had the best of the marquee match-up against star Melbourne forward Tayla Harris, but teammate Sarah Allan took over and acquitted herself just as well.
Six Demons, including captain Daisy Pearce, didn’t register a possession in the first quarter, and the visitors continued to struggle to find a way through Adelaide’s defensive wall.
The Crows led by 15 points at halftime after neither side managed a goal in the second term.
Phillips added her third and Rachelle Martin converted a set shot to set up an imposing lead at three-quarter time.
Too late Demons
The Crows should have been further in front, given they led the inside-50 count 40-10 at three-quarter time, and a late Melbourne rally caused concern.
Harris goaled 30 seconds into the final term, with Daisy Pearce following suit.
But Adelaide lifted again, with the Melbourne skipper’s second goal coming after the final siren.
“The majority of the game was on Adelaide’s terms,” Melbourne coach Mick Stinear said.
“They were far too good for us.
“At least we challenged them in the last quarter.”
The Crows can make it five wins in a row when they take on Carlton at Princes Park in round five, with the Demons to host Gold Coast at Casey Fields.
CROWS 2.1 2.5 4.10 4.11 35
DEMONS 0.1 0.2 0.2 3.3 21
Crows: Phillips, Marinoff, Hatchard, Allan, Allen, Newman.
Demons: McNamara, Hanks, Lampard, Birch, Paxman, Sherriff.
Crows: Phillips 3, Martin.
Demons: D Pearce 2, Harris.
Crows: Randall (hamstring).
Demons: L Pearce (ankle).
Lions hold off Cats surge to win thriller
– James Mottershead
Brisbane survived a late Geelong surge to hold on for a memorable two-point win to put them inside the top six.
The Lions dominated the game, winning inside-50s by 26 and having seven more scoring shots, but the sharpshooting Cats almost pinched one of the club’s great wins through a late Chloe Scheer burst.
The Cats got the jump on the Lions with an early goal from Chantel Emonson after she took a brave mark going back with the flight of the ball.
It was the only foray inside 50 for Geelong in the first quarter, while Brisbane had 10 but could only manage two points.
The ball belonged in Geelong’s half for the first part of the second quarter, but they were unable to capitalise as the Lions wrestled momentum back without the Cats adding to their score.
Orla O’Dwyer continued her scintillating start to the season and, by halftime, had 293m gained from nine disposals, as well as two clearances.
With Tahlia Hickie getting on top in the ruck, the Lions’ midfield came alive, but it wasn’t until just before the halftime siren, they registered their first goal of the game, coming via a classy snap from Dakota Davidson.
Brisbane tightened the clamps on the Cats to start the third quarter and were rewarded for their efforts with a sublime running goal from O’Dwyer.
But a lack of discipline handed Scheer a free kick just 15m from goal and, when the 22-year-old kicked truly, the margin was just five points, despite Brisbane’s dominance.
A couple of late minor scores had the margin at just seven points heading into the last quarter, despite the Lions winning the inside 50 count 28-7.
Geelong couldn’t wrestle momentum back and Emily Bates, who had 24 disposals, seven clearances and six tackles, kicked the first goal of the quarter which appeared to kill off any hopes of a Cats fightback.
But Scheer had other ideas, kicking two goals to give Geelong five-minutes to snatch the most unlikely win.
And with about two-minutes left on the clock, Scheer had the opportunity to give the Cats the lead after receiving a free kick for a push in the back.
The kick slid off the side of her boot and missed to the right, which was Geelong’s first miss and the last score of the game.
It wasn’t the number of possessions O’Dwyer had, but what she did with the ball.
Coming into this game, the 23-year-old averaged a league-high 496m gained per game, and she was at her damaging best again as she notched another 431m gained for the Lions.
Playing on the wing, Geelong’s method of rolling her opponent off her to play as an extra in defence ultimately hurt them.
Not only was the Irishwoman able to drive the Lions forward, she kicked a stunning running goal in the third quarter as she went unchecked inside 50.
Geelong’s defence has come under severe pressure at times this season and did once again at the hands of the Lions.
But like they have all year, they stood up and, at times, looked almost impossible to get past.
Facing 20 inside 50s in the first half, Meg McDonald, Maddy McMahon, and Maddy Keryk had 13 intercepts between them.
Collingwood’s rotten luck
Gabby Collingwood was playing her first game since Rd 3, 2020, but it ended in disaster seconds before the quarter time siren.
The 23-year-old, who suffered an ACL injury to her left knee in 2020, was knocked off the ball before her right knee crumpled underneath her.
Collingwood immediately clutched at her knee and was helped off by trainers, unable to put any weight on her right leg.
Another ACL injury for Collingwood would mark the fifth injury of that type since the start of the AFLW season.
LIONS 0.2 1.4 2.7 3.9 27
CATS 1.0 1.0 2.0 4.1 25
Lions: O’Dwyer, Bates, Anderson, Dawes, Koenen.
Cats: M. McDonald, A. McDonald, Scheer, McMahon, Emonson.
Lions: Davidson, O’Dwyer, Bates.
Cats: Scheer 3, Emonson.
Lions: Collingwood (knee).
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
JAMES MOTTERSHEAD’S VOTES
3 O. O’Dwyer (BRIS)
2 E. Bates (BRIS)
1 M. McDonald (GEEL)
Drought-breaking Barr leads Giant response
– Martin Gabor
The GWS Giants have brushed aside any controversy surrounding Haneen Zreika to maul the Western Bulldogs in Marrickville by 21 points in a historic clash at Sydney’s Henson Park.
The venue was made famous by rugby league side the Newtown Jets and will be home to the Sydney Swans when they join the AFLW, but on Friday it was GWS territory as they ran out winners by 7.1.43 to 2.10.22.
Players endured stifling conditions in Sydney’s inner-west, but the burning issue before the game was Zreika, after the proud Muslim chose to miss the match on religious grounds.
Zreika, who is the first Muslim woman to play in the AFLW, decided she couldn’t wear the team’s pride guernsey because it went against her beliefs.
It’s a complex one given she played in last year’s Pride Round where the club didn’t wear a special uniform, but she told teammates in the days leading up to this game that the guernsey could compromise her standing in the community.
It’s understood that the discussions were educational for all parties, given some of her teammates are members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and are naturally strong advocates for what the guernsey stands for.
Zreika has received criticism from some circles over her decision, but she took to social media on Friday afternoon to explain her “extremely difficult” stance.
“I respect people regardless of their sexual orientation,” the Instagram post said.
“The decision was extremely difficult and I appreciate the support of AFL, Giants, my teammates.
“Inclusion is about creating a space where people are able to respect their right to choose how they live their life as long as they don’t advocate hate and division.”
Raising the Barr
This was a result the Giants desperately needed after a couple of disappointing defeats, and they have a former number one draft pick to thank for getting their season back on track.
Nicola Barr has been waiting years to kick her first AFLW goal, but the drought broke quickly on Friday when she booted the opening major.
That was quickly followed by two more goals to Louise Stephenson as the hosts raced out to an early lead, before Barr doubled her career tally with the first goal of the second term.
The goals dried up after that, but coach Alan McConnell would have been thrilled with their third quarter as they held the Dogs to just one goal, even though the visitors dominated possession and field position with the wind at their backs.
Naturally, Barr booted the first two goals of the final term just as the Dogs were starting to mount a comeback.
Off the leash
The Western Bulldogs remain winless but they have plenty of excuses after waiting 20 days between games after their squad was forced into isolation due to Covid.
They’ve only played two games while some of the other teams have played four, but the lack of match fitness didn’t show as they survived Sydney’s heat to make things competitive late.
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 3.0 5.1 5.1 7.1 (43)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 1.4 1.4 2.8 2.10 (22)
Greater Western Sydney: Barr 3, Stephenson 2, Staunton, Doyle
Western Bulldogs: Cranston, Blackburn
Greater Western Sydney: Nil
Western Bulldogs: Nil
Dominant Dockers inflict new low on Pies
– James Mottershead
Fremantle swept Collingwood aside with ease as it announced itself as this season’s AFLW premiership favourite on the way to a 31-point win.
Such was Fremantle’s dominance they held Collingwood to its lowest score in AFLW history, kicking just 1.1 to eclipse a previous lowest score of 1.3.
Despite a two-goal margin at three-quarter-time, the Dockers were never troubled by the Pies and recorded 30 more inside-50s.
And if not for a resolute Magpie defence the margin could have been much greater.
Pies coach Steve Symonds said Collingwood’s inability to transition the ball was their biggest problem.
“It wasn’t part of the plan (having the side’s lowest ever score),” Symonds said.
“We couldn’t get any connection between the arcs if I’m honest. We lost territory early and then the ball was going deep into their forward 50.
“I thought we battled manfully … the score could have blown out a lot.”
Symonds said teams had figured Collingwood out and it was up to his players to work through the pressure opposition were applying.
“There was a lack of composure and decision making and we just couldn’t get it right, it just didn’t happen today,” he said. “Teams aren’t allowing us to transition the ball as easily as we did last year, and we spoke about that. We’ve been a high possession team for a while now so teams will always throw pressure at us.”
Fremantle was the better of the sides in the first quarter and a goal to Roxy Roux one-minute into the game was the difference between the sides at the first break.
The Dockers’ tackling pressure and ability to find open targets inside 50 were the difference between the two sides.
Collingwood landed the perfect sucker punch as it kicked the first goal of the second quarter with its first inside 50 of the term after Fremantle had dominated field position. But a minute later Britt Bonnici’s goal was answered by Hayley Miller with a long-range effort.
The goal, and an eight-point halftime lead, was just reward for the Dockers who pumped the ball inside 50 19 times in the first half, while Collingwood could only muster six entries.
The third quarter belonged to the Dockers as they drove the ball inside-50 13 times to Collingwood’s one, but the Dockers couldn’t capitalise on their dominance, mustering just four points.
It left the door ajar for the Pies who trailed by 12 points at the last break.
But it was more of the same as Fremantle piled on 3.1 in the last quarter to kick away and create a margin more fitting of its performance.
Despite the heavy loss, Symonds said his 3-1 Magpies weren’t overly alarmed.
“There aren’t too many sides who go through undefeated, and we haven’t lost too many games in the last couple of years so we’re certainly not panicking. We tried a lot but couldn’t find our groove. Heading towards quarter-time I thought we were on top and then they raised the bar.”
Star defender Ash Brazill has returned from the Australian Diamonds quad series and will likely be available for selection in the coming weeks, according to Symonds.
“She’s back but has to transfer from netball to football,” he said.
“She had a small niggle coming back from the Diamonds so she’s getting medically looked after. We’ll look at her in the next week or so.”
Pies’ defence holds strong
Collingwood’s defence had to endure 19 inside-50s from the Dockers in the first half, having just six themselves. But the Pies managed to limit the damage, conceding just 2.3 on the scoreboard.
Their efforts were propped up by veteran Stacey Livingstone (five intercepts), All-Australian Ruby Schleicher (four), and 21-year-old Jordyn Allen (four).
It’s no secret Bonnici is one of the game’s best midfielders, but the 24-year-old’s ball use has taken her game to new levels this season.
The All-Australian is still finding the ball with ease, notching up 13 touches to halftime (25 for the match), but more impressively had 279-metres gained at the main break (488 for the match).
A bonus for Collingwood stemming from Bonnici’s ability to hurt the opposition on the outside is the opportunity given to young Pies midfielders, such as Mikala Cann and Tarni Brown, to step into the vacated inside role.
Fremantle is the best pressure team in the AFLW and it showed the Pies what they will have to overcome to enjoy finals success.
On average Collingwood gives away seven free kicks per game to holding the ball, but such was the Freo squeeze, by three-quarter-time the Pies had conceded 14.
The scary thing for Collingwood, and opposition teams watching, is it wasn’t one of Fremantle’s better tackling games of the season.
PIES 0.1 1.1 1.1 1.1 7
DOCKERS 1.1 2.3 2.7 5.8 38
Pies: Bonnici, Rowe, Schleicher, Butler, Lambert. Dockers: Miller, Bowers, E.Antonio, Roux, Houghton, O’Sullivan.
Pies: Bonnici. Dockers: Miller 2, Roux, Houghton, E. Antonio.
Pies: nil. Dockers: nil.
1257 at Victoria Park
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
JAMES MOTTERSHEAD’S VOTES
3 H. Miller (FREM)
2 K. Bowers (FREM)
1 B. Bonnici (COLL)