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AFLW: Practice Match vs Collingwood

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The stars aligned for me to attend the practice game at Olympic Park in lovely conditions today. Plenty of fans from both teams in attendance, plus lots of tennis fans in the vicinity, with one American overheard to ask, “Is this rugby?” No doubt the Dees were happy with the lack of travel to the venue and to head back to base at half time and post-game.

The game started off with some class shown by the club:

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The injured: Saw L.Pearce, walking fairly well (no crutches) but she looks a ways off yet. Kat Smith and Shae Sloane were also both in attendance. Jakobsson (sitting out the season to join the police) was also around, which was great after a tough but wise decision.

Players who sat out the game: Kate Hore and Tegan Cunningham (slight strapping on a quad but moving fine). By my reckoning, all of the other 24 fit players took to the field at various stages.

I was struck immediately in the warm-up by how sharp, focused and well-organised our drills were compared to Collingwood’s whose (in my biased opinion) seemed a little lacklustre and lacking intensity.

Some rambling impressions:

McEvoy (one of the Irish recruits) is super quick. In fact, her and the other Irish player, Goldrick, were both noticeably pacey. I was impressed by their attack on the footy and involvement with the game, in particular their pressure and movement with ball in hand. There was a classic cross-code moment when Goldrick broke the lines off half back and dashed through the centre square, only to forget to bounce. No running over the mark 50-metre penalties though ;) They’re clearly both excellent athletes who’ve come far already. Goldrick is apparently one of the best ever ladies Gaelic defenders and both are stars at Dublin.

Colvin (an ex-Darebin player) is exactly as expected and will hopefully give us some of the physical presence we’ve lacked since Cranston’s departure.

I was most impressed with our marking, especially in the backline. Several players (Cordner, Parry or maybe it was Colvin, Birch, Sherriff, Zanker, Downie and Daisy) took strong contested marks or positioned themselves well to intercept. This is the area we’ll most miss Jakobbson, who has some of the best hands in the league, but hopefully others (particularly Birch) will fill that void and others have clearly improved. Collingwood did a fair amount of dump kicking which did help. It seemed like Guerin and Heath were playing negative mid roles against some of Collingwood’s big names. Love it when Emonson’s got the ball in her hands—always got time. Good game by Heath as well. I can see Hanks playing more midfield in the future.

Zanker, Scott and Cordner shared the ruck. They went okay up against the taller Collingwood duo. It’s not going to be easy, but all 3 are players that can be relied on to give it a crack and sacrifice their games for the team. Paxman was her usual self. O’Dea looked a little rusty with her disposal. Daisy played about 3 quarters and I might be over-stating it, but it was pretty much like she’d never missed a game. As predicted by many, she played off half back, which suits her ability to read the play and set up others very well. I reckon they all walk a little taller with her out there.

*Disclaimer: All of the above opinions are based on possible misidentification of new players and less than focused attention in the second half due to running into friends and several phone call distractions!

The goalkickers were Kemp, Sherriff, Heath, Hanks, Cordner and Scott.

We controlled the ball better and were able to hit the scoreboard in the second half when play opened up. Collingwood made many more forward entries, especially in quarters 1 and 3, but were inaccurate, their first goal coming in the 3rd.

FINAL SCORE

Pies 3.6.24

Dees 6.3.39

Considering the absence of Hore and Cunningham, and with Zanker pushed up the ground for ruck duties, it’s not shabby. Most set shots were goals, which should be a major focus this season.

Injuries:

Mithen – ankle early on,  didn’t seem overly concerned.

Newman – taken down hard in a tackle as she tried to sprint for goal in typical style. Is wearing a helmet this season so hopefully taken off just as a precaution.

Kemp – started off up forward and kicked a nice goal. Later came off (apparently an ankle injury). I believe she’s playing without an ACL after re-doing it early in the 2019 VFLW season…I just hope the injury gods can smile on her for once.

Guerin – minor calf complaint.

According to Stinear, aside from Kemp, all should be right to go Round 1.

All in all, the best 21 is more hotly contested than I'd expected after the player losses, but I’ll have a go at some point before Round 1.

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Great report, thanks

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Cheers for the report DIO

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I went down to watch before venturing over to the tennis with my young daughter.

Ash Barty & Daisy great role models so a great double header.

Jack Viney was there. I love the way he embraces everything MELBOURNE. Also worth noting no crutches or strapping unlike the same time the last few years.

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