TWO rounds into the AFLW season and we already have an idea of just who are the contenders and who the pretenders are.
However, we might have a problem on our hands.
Thanks to the conference system, Melbourne sit bottom of conference A with the one win and 119.1% and Brisbane who have also won one game sits on top of conference B with a percentage of 73.4
In fact, so far this season all six cross-conference games have seen group A teams defeat group B which has the potential for a team to make the Grand Final by the two sweetest words in the dictionary – de fault.
But it’s not all doom and gloom for the B teams, with some exciting matchups this weekend to redeem themselves, two cross-conference matches and the match of the round being the highly anticipated clash between North and the Bulldogs in Launceston
And here’s something trivial ahead of this weekend of AFLW, not one game is being played in Melbourne which is a first for any senior AFL home and away round.
Check out our tips and preview ahead of Round Three of AFLW below.
North Melbourne Vs Western Bulldogs
Friday 15 February, 7:15pm, University of Tasmania Stadium, Launceston
Just like the glory days of North Melbourne in the 1990s they find themselves playing in a top of the table blockbuster clash on a Friday night.
Some people think that this AFLW season is between North Melbourne and the rest, but reining premiers the Western Bulldogs have other ideas.
In an eventful, storm and rain interrupted evening with two long delays in play, North Melbourne stamped their authority as AFLW leaders with a 25 point win over GWS at Drummoyne Oval in Sydney.
The game was relatively close wet-weather Football until Roos Ruck Emma King moved down into the forward line for the last quarter, allowing North’s strong midfield to easily get the ball to her and booted two goals in the final minutes and missed a set shot.
Youngster Daisy Bateman also booted two majors as North’s polish and skill was too good in the tough conditions against the Giants.
The Bulldogs unfurled their 2018 AFLW premiership flag and accounted for Geelong by 18 points at the Whitten Oval last weekend.
Despite winning their first round game against the Crows, some had concerns about the Dogs low-scoring but they seemed to have no issue with it with 9 scoring shots for the game at the windy and wide comforts of the Whitten Oval.
With 2018 AFLW B&F winner Emma Kearney now at North Melbourne (which adds some extra spice to this matchup), the likes of Ellie Blackburn and Kirsty Lamb are making for an excellent combination in the midfield for the Bulldogs.
Along with this, the Doggies have shown that they don’t need to rely on skipper Katie Brennan dominating.
This game is set to go down to the wire, but North have proven themselves to be fast, attacking and high-scoring for AFLW standards while the Dogs have been able to capitalize on missed opportunities from their opponents in both of their wins.
With that in mind, expect the Kangaroos to come home with the four points in what will be an arm-wrestle.
It’s just a shame that this match can’t be a possible Grand Final preview due to the conference system.
TIP NORTH MELBOURNE LINE -6.5 @ $1.88
GWS Giants Vs Carlton
Saturday 16 February, 4:45pm, Blacktown International Sports Park
Coming off a rain and storm interrupted game and a 25 point loss to North Melbourne at Drummoyne Oval for the second year running, GWS return to the clubs birthplace Blacktown to face a much improved Carlton in this group B clash.
It hasn’t been the easiest start for the Giants who went down narrowly to group B leader Brisbane and couldn’t keep up with the pace of the league leader North Melbourne in last Friday night’s bizarre and stormy encounter.
GWS had played their first two matches within the space of five days.
The Giants will welcome the prospect of playing last year’s wooden spoon winners and bottom of Group B side Carlton in more familiar surroundings and a bit of a rest.
In what was a tough slog, the Giants were able to keep North Melbourne at bay for most of the match, trailing only eight points at three quarter time until the Roos got into another gear to get the win.
When the light towers went out with six minutes remaining in the second quarter, GWS opted for the game to be called a draw but North wanted the win.
With the short AFLW season, all wins and losses make or break seasons so you can hardly blame the Giants wanting to split the points, alas it wasn’t to be.
The Giants had their chances to remain in the game last week, but the luck of the Irish simply wasn’t with them.
Forward Yvonne Bonner had the chance to get GWS within three points after winning a free kick infront of goal but missed.
Other Irish recruit Cora Staunton missed her opportunity to get the Giants within 15 points of the Roos as she went for goal only to be tackled by North’s Jess Duffin in what was a sensational chase reminiscent of Giants AFL team and AFLW assistant coach Heath Shaw in the 2010 Grand Final replay or Boomer Harvey at his peak.
There is also a major out for the Giants this weekend with defender Nicola Barr ruled out due to a one-week suspension for rough conduct against North’s Ash Riddell.
For the Blues, it was a disappointing loss against Adelaide last week at Princes Park.
The Blues were up 17 points late in the third quarter only to see the Crows kick six of the final seven goals and go down by 13 points in a high-scoring affair.
Midfielder Madison Prespakis who is this week’s AFLW Rising Star nominee filled the void in the midfield with Tayla Harris’s absence due to injury.
Prespakis isn’t afraid to get her hands on the footy nor is she afraid to get physical.
The sight of Front Bar and SEN host doubling up as Carlton runner Andy Maher preventing her from starting a mele with Crow Courtney Cramey was a sight to behold.
Adelaide proved simply too good for Carlton but the Blues have vastly improved from their round one encounter against North Melbourne.
If the Blues are able to put together four solid quarters of Football and play with the dominance and flare they had in the first two and a half quarters of last week’s game, they are every chance to pull off an upset win on the road and open their account this Saturday.
BACK CARLTON TO WIN @ $2.60
Fremantle Vs Collingwood
Saturday 16 February, 4:15pm, Fremantle Oval
In its first two matches, Fremantle has shown the AFLW world that they mean business in season 2019 with big high-scoring wins over both Melbourne and Fremantle.
They face Collingwood at Fremantle Oval this weekend who for the third year running have started their season 0-2.
The Dockers come off an impressive 27 point win over the Brisbane Lions last weekend and sit equal on points with North Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs in conference A.
It was also the highest scoring match in AFLW history.
11 points down at quarter time, the Dockers dominated in the second quarter with the efforts of youngster Sabreena Duffy and forward Gabby O’Sullivan kicking two goals.
With the Lions normally reliable defence struggling to shrug off the Dockers, the running goal from Freo’s Ashley Sharp in the third quarter broke the game open.
The Dockers took a 14 point lead into the final quarter and were never under threat for the rest of the game.
For Collingwood, it was a very disappointing homecoming going down to Melbourne by 17 points at Victoria Park last Saturday.
Melbourne was able to control the game from the very start and the Magpies were held to their lowest score in their AFLW history of 1. 3 (9) for the entire day.
Traditionally, the Magpie army is vocal at their Vic Park heartland but they didn’t score for two whole quarters leaving the ground as quiet as it would have been for the past 20 years they haven’t played there.
It wasn’t until late in the fourth quarter that Sarah Dargan kicked the Pies first (and only) major for the game.
The game easily could have gotten out of hand for the Magpies had it not been for Netballer Ash Brazil and Brittany Bonnici who were kept busy in the backline all day.
With the tight race on top of the conference A table, the Dockers up and about playing wounded opponents making the long trip to Perth, Freo smells blood and should show no mercy to the struggling but improving Magpies.
BACK FREMANTLE BY 25+ POINTS
Adelaide Vs Geelong
Sunday 17 February, 2:05pm, Norwood Oval
The Crows, coming off a terrific win over Carlton, return home to host the Cats at Norwood Oval in what should be a fascinating matchup.
Late in the third quarter, the Crows trailed the Blues by 17 points but went on to kick seven of the last six goals of the game to secure a memorable 13 point victory.
There was a period in last week’s game when the Crows found an extra gear, kicking three goals in four minutes before three quarter time.
Once the fourth quarter got underway, the Adelaide booted another three in the first seven minutes and ran away with the game.
Bad, inaccurate kicking cost the Crows a win in Round one against the Bulldogs but they clearly worked things out for the match against the Blues.
Erin Phillips was all over the ground and getting plenty of the footy along with Stevie-Lee Thompson who was outstanding with four goals to her name.
Playing in the backline for the first two seasons, Thompson has taken to her spot up forward like a duck to water and opposition coaches and defenders will be paying full attention to her for the rest of the season.
Geelong suffered their biggest loss in their AFLW history going down to the Western Bulldogs by two points, it was also their first loss in the AFLW.
Geelong has also never won an AFLW game interstate, however, this is the first time the Cats have played outside of Victoria in this competition.
While it’s easy to come up with stats like that two games into their AFLW journey, it’s not easy to work out exactly where the Cats are at.
Geelong started well against the Bulldogs with Phoebe McWilliams kicking an impressive goal from 30 meters out but the Cats struggled for the rest of the night.
The windy conditions of the Whitten Oval had the better of the Cats in the second quarter when the Bulldogs were able to kick three unanswered goals kicking into the wind.
It ultimately was the difference in the match.
Cats midfielders Renee Garing and Olivia Purcell were effective for the game but it was the two scoreless quarters and kicking against the Whitten Oval breeze in the second quarter played a major factor in the loss.
Adelaide has found some good form and the win against Carlton will give them a massive confidence boost.
The Crows should be too good for the Cats on their home deck.
BACK EITHER TEAM UNDER 15 POINTS
Brisbane Lions Vs Melbourne
Sunday 17 February, 4:05pm, Hickey Park Stafford (Brisbane)
Believe it or not, this is the first time the Brisbane Lions will actually play an AFLW game in Brisbane as they face Melbourne at Hickey Park located in the Northside suburb of Stafford.
The Lions went down to Freo last weekend in Perth by 27 points however, they remain top of the conference B ladder by percentage as no “B” teams registered a win in last weekends all cross-conference matches.
Brisbane was up by 11 points at Quarter time last weekend but allowed the Dockers to dominate for the remainder of the game, finding themselves 10 points down at half time after a scoreless second quarter.
The Lions had their chances in the third quarter to get back in the game with forward Jess Wuetschner booting two goals but Freo was too quick for them.
Freo’s defenders had the better of power forward Sabrina Frederick-Traub who was held goalless for the match.
Melbourne spoiled Collingwoods homecoming party at Victoria Park last Saturday with a 17 point win.
The Demons dominated all day with ruck Lauren Peace dominating from the middle ensuring the Dees held Collingwood to just 1.3 (9) for the day in a low-scoring affair.
Elise O’Dea, Lily Mithen and Karen Paxman dominated in the midfield for Melbourne last weekend and were able to match up with Collingwood’s intensity the goalless first quarter where the Dees had double the possessions of the Magpies.
It was O’Dea who was the clear standout with 18 touches to her name before half-time and a few shots at goal, only to slot a major just before the main break.
If we’ve learnt anything from the first two seasons and two rounds of the AFLW, it’s to never write off the Brisbane Lions.
Brisbane will welcome being able to play in the Queensland humidity on Sunday afternoon but Melbourne certainly won’t make it easy for them.
Expect this one to go down to the wire.
BACK MELBOURNE LINE
The 2018 AFLW season continues this weekend and we are set for four big games over two days.
Carlton, the Western Bulldogs and Melbourne will all defend their unbeaten records, while Collingwood, GWS and the Adelaide Crows are still chasing their first wins of the season.
We have analysed all four games set to take place this weekend and our complete 2018 AFLW Round 3 tips can be found below.
Adelaide Crows Vs Western Bulldogs
Saturday 17 February, 2:05pm, Norwood Oval
To say this is a must-win game for Adelaide is an understatement.
The inaugural reigning premiers have lost their first two matches the last five games in the short AFLW season is sudden death if the Crows are to have a chance of going back-to-back this season.
It gets harder for the Crows with 2017 league MVP and Co-captain Erin Phillips out with injury and their other co-captain Ange Foley who was suspended for one match this week for kneeing Daisy Pearce in their 32 point loss to Melbourne last week.
To top it all off for Adelaide they face the Western Bulldogs who are one of the in-form teams of the AFLW season so far.
The Bulldogs were impressive on the road with their win over Brisbane last week, although the knee injury to their number one draft pick Izzy Huntington put a dampener on things after she impressed with two goals during the second quarter.
With the Western Bulldogs on a roll and playing impressive football they should be able to put a likely early end to Adelaide’s season this Saturday.
BACK WESTERN BULLDOGS @ $1.73
Carlton Vs Brisbane Lions
Saturday 17 February, 7:40pm, Ikon Park
Gun Blues recruit Tayla Harris goes up against her old side Brisbane in what should be a serious grudge match at Princes Park this Saturday night.
Carlton was able to get over GWS in trying conditions in Sydney last week by 21 points and it came at a cost as their captain Brianna Davey went down with a knee injury ruling her out of footy for the next 12 months.
Along with losing Davey, their coach Damian Keeping is still on sick leave with interim coach Nick Rutley serving in the role until further notice.
Despite Brisbane going down to the Bulldogs last week, Carlton will have their work cut out for them in this match.
The Lions failed to score a goal in the first half against the Dogs but fought back in the second half of what would be the first regular season loss in Brisbane’s AFLW short history.
The likes of Ally Anderson, Emily Bates, Emma Zilke and Jess Wuetschner for Brisbane will be a good match up for Carlton’s Darcy Vescio, Nicola Stevens, the Hosking twins and of course, Talya Harris.
It will be interesting to see how Carlton rebound from the loss of their captain but if the Lions are able to get their act together they should be too good for the Blues at their home ground.
BACK BRISBANE LIONS @ $2.00
Collingwood Vs GWS Giants
Sunday 18 February, 4:35pm, Olympic Park Oval
Two teams yet to register a win this AFLW season face each other this Sunday at Olympic Park Oval.
Collingwood has been able to kick the first goal of the match in both of their games so far but haven’t been able to make most of the momentum for the rest of the match.
They’ll also be playing in front of a smaller crowd compared to the 41,000 at Optus Stadium in Perth and the near sell-out at Princes Park in round one.
The likes of gun recruit Chloe Molloy, forward Christina Bernardi who booted two goals last week have been standouts for the Magpies this season.
It will also be interesting to see if the high profile Mo Hope will make it back into the team after being dropped last week for poor form.
GWS were also able to score early in their match against Carlton last week but were also not able to get the momentum going.
A severe thunderstorm resulted in an extended quarter time break and it seemed to put the Giants off their game, as they failed to score for the rest of the match.
Another factor going into this match is how Giant Alica Eva who was best on the ground for GWS last week will go against her old side this Sunday.
So far GWS have been far more competitive this season but Collingwood should be able to get the job done on their home deck.
BACK COLLINGWOOD @ $1.70
Fremantle Vs Melbourne
Sunday 18 February, 6:35pm, Fremantle Oval
The Dockers will be coming off a high after an impressive win over Collingwood as they played the first game of footy at Optus Stadium in front of a record 41,000 crowd.
Their captain Kara Donnellan, last year’s best and fairest Dana Hooker and forward Mellissa Hooker were standouts as Freo proved too good for Collingwood.
But while Fremantle was able to impress the big crowd at the new stadium, they come up against league leaders Melbourne who will come to Fremantle Oval full of confidence as they have so far proven to be premiership favourites for this AFLW season.
The Demons won convincingly against last year’s premiers Adelaide by 32 points last week as Daisy Pearce and Karen Paxman put on a show at Casey Fields.
While travel may be a factor in this game, the Demons highly attacking and the high scoring game plan will prove too good for Fremantle as they return to the more intimate surroundings of Fremantle Oval this Sunday.
BACK MELBOURNE @ $1.45