Presented by WARF Radio, the 2021 AFLW Qualifying Finals saw the Melbourne Demons and Collingwood Magpies win through, and knock out Fremantle and North Melbourne.
Melbourne v Fremantle – Saturday @ Casey Fields
Melbourne 1.2.8 | 3.3.21 | 4.3.27 | 5.10.40
Fremantle 0.2.2 | 0.2.2 | 3.5.23 | 3.5.23
Melbourne: Shelley Scott (2), Alyssa Bannan, Maddison Gay, Brenna Tarrant
Fremantle: Sabreena Duffy, Gemma Houghton, Ashley Sharp
- Melbourne’s strength at stoppages immediately stood out—not just in the middle, but right across the ground. They won the clearance battle 29-21, with 12 Demons registering at least one. Through this, the home side was able to control the ground ball and dominate territory for much of the game. For the Dockers, Kiara Bowers did much of the heavy lifting, winning eight of the side’s clearances, while also laying 17 tackles.
- Among a number of positional changes the Demons have made this year, Maddison Gay has been lining up as a reasonably deep forward to great effect. Her ability in congestion is a game changer for Melbourne, as she regularly dominates forward stoppages and creates scoring opportunities. Since round seven, Gay has averaged 4.8 score involvements, and kicked two goals of her own.
- Contributing to this ground level dominance inside 50 was Melbourne’s ability to apply pressure. They laid 17 tackles inside 50—Fremantle managed just seven in their own attack—and limited any sort of slingshot attack the Dockers might have been able to create.
- Two weeks ago when these sides faced off, Sinead Goldrick had the job on Gemma Houghton and kept her very quiet for much of the game. But when Goldrick fell to an unfortunately hamstring injury, Houghton looked to get a handle on the game. Without Goldrick, Houghton loomed as a real danger for the Demons, with no obvious replacement for her. The ever-improving Lauren Magee was handed the job given her speed, and absolutely held her own against Fremantle’s leading goal kicker. This included a stunning run-down tackle as Houghton threatened to turn the game.
- Recent matchups between Melbourne and Fremantle have been all about momentum swings each way. This game, however, didn’t see the Dockers ever really hold control. That being said, it certainly felt like the match could turn on a dime at any moment, never more so than when Stephanie Cain won the ball in space. Unfortunately for the visitors, the Demons’ ability to equal the aerial contest limited Fremantle to just one mark inside 50 for the game, while taking nine of their own.
Collingwood v North Melbourne – Saturday @ Victoria Park
Collingwood 3.2.20 | 3.4.22 | 4.6.30 | 7.8.50
North Melbourne 1.0.6 | 3.1.19 | 7.2.44 | 7.2.44
Collingwood: Sophie Alexander (2), Chloe Molloy (2), Tarni Brown, Jaimee Lambert, Kristy Stratton
North Melbourne: Sophie Abbatangelo (2), Beth Lynch (2), Daria Bannister, Jasmine Garner, Ashleigh Riddell
North Melbourne: N/A
- Collingwood’s early lead came about thanks to some poor skill execution from the Kangaroos, typically controlling games with their clean kick-mark style around the ground. The enormity of the occasion, combined with the immense pressure applied by Collingwood sold the Roos into trouble more than once. The Pies, however, were switched on from the opening contest and made the most of North’s poor use. Once the Kangaroos settled into the game, however, it certainly became more of an arm wrestle.
- A key cog for Collingwood in that first quarter was Ruby Schleicher, who regularly set them up in attack. Her confidence to drive out of defence and push up the field has been vital to their game style all year, and potentially even more so in finals.
- Another thing that the Pies have done well all year is force opposition forwards into difficult positions when taking shots on goal, and that was something that continued this week. The key difference between this match and their battle in round four is that the Roos made more of their boundary-line set shots.
- Amongst a number of highly decorated star names, Kaitlyn Ashmore might just be the most important player when it comes to North Melbourne’s game style. Their second and third quarter surge was led by Ashmore’s run, and her intercept work across the half forward line did well to keep Collingwood’s defence under constant pressure. Her 17 disposals included six intercepts and resulted in 345 metres gained.
- Brianna Davey continues to stake her claim for the best player in the competition, with one of the best individual finals performances we’ve seen. Davey used her 31 disposals at 80.6% for 393 metres gained, while also winning seven clearances and laying nine tackles. She undoubtedly won the head to head with Emma Kearney, and covered the ground well so as to never be too far from the contest.