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AFLW late mail round six: Crows on the brink

Erin Phillips has recovered from a quad injury sustained last weekend - AFLW,Adelaide Crows,Fremantle Dockers,Brisbane Lions,Collingwood Magpies,GWS Giants,Western Bulldogs,Carlton Blues,Melbourne Demons
Erin Phillips has recovered from a quad injury sustained last weekend

Adelaide v Fremantle
5.35pm (ACST), Friday, March 9
TIO Stadium

ADELAIDE is in the Top End to face Fremantle in a must-win NAB AFL Women's clash if it is to have any chance of making a second AFL Grand Final.

The Crows made no changes to the line-up that secured a 35-point win over Carlton last round. Midfielders Ebony Marinoff (split tongue) and Erin Phillips (quad) will line up after injury concerns last week, with Phillips sitting out the second half against the Blues.

After losing to Fremantle in a pre-season match in Darwin earlier this year, along with two losses in Darwin in 2017 (including a pre-season match), coach Bec Goddard said her team had a point to prove.  

"We haven't won a game in Darwin. We are really looking to making an impression this time around," Goddard said.

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The premiership coach said her players had banned themselves from speaking about the expected stifling conditions. The temperature is forecast to be 31 degrees at the start of the match, with high humidity.

"We don't let it bother us. We are very focused on getting the win," she said.

Sitting in sixth position on the ladder, Fremantle will be looking to finish the season well after a 23-point loss at home to Greater Western Sydney last week.

The Dockers omitted Belinda Smith and round-three NAB AFLW Rising Star nominee Emily McGuire for the clash, while recalling defenders Tayla Bresland and Tiah Haynes.

Ebony Marinoff and the Crows will look to end their Darwin hoodoo. Picture: AFL Photos

Brisbane v Collingwood
3.35pm (AEST), Saturday, March 10
Moreton Bay Central Sports Complex

A top-two position will be firmly on Brisbane's mind when it meets Collingwood in its final home game of the season.

The Lions recalled round three NAB AFLW Rising Star nominee Sophie Conway, along with Emma Pittman and Megan Hunt. Nicole Hildebrand will be missing with injury, while youngsters Jordan Zanchetta and Gabby Collingwood have been omitted.

AFLW teams: Lions swing changes after rare road defeat

The Magpies played a physical brand of football against the Western Bulldogs last weekend, with Lions forward Jess Wuetschner predicting the team was ready for the same approach from the visitors.

"A lot of teams try to rattle us. We just focus on playing footy and that's what we will do again," she told lions.com.au.

"If one of our teammates is being targeted, we want to protect our players. We are all about cold aggression and we will bring that into the game again.

"[Collingwood] are a very physical team and I expect the contest to be hot, even though we are the ones playing for that Grand Final spot."

The Magpies are out of contention with only one win. They will be looking to finish the season positively, but will have to do so without captain Steph Chiocci, who was suspended for the remaining two matches of the season after she made front-on head-high contact with Bulldogs defender Libby Birch last weekend.

Three Pies will have three debutants this week: cross-code athletes Ashleigh Brazill (netball) and Georgie Parker (hockey), and Kristy Stratton, pick 21 in last year's NAB AFLW Draft. Parker has been elevated from the rookie list, replacing defender Sophie Casey (hamstring). Tara Morgan also returns, while fellow defender Iilish Ross will miss with a stress fracture in her left foot.

Collingwood coach Wayne Siekman said his team wanted to finish the season well after a solid final quarter against the Bulldogs,

"In the last quarter, from a coaching perspective, we threw caution to the wind and looked quite dangerous and damaging," he said.

"[In round four] we beat premiership favourite Melbourne [and last week] we played a quarter-and-a-half of football and nearly beat the top side.

"That should give us a lot of confidence going to Brisbane."

Sophie Conway is back for the Lions' clash with Collingwood. Picture: AFL Photos

Greater Western Sydney v Western Bulldogs
7.10pm (AEDT), Saturday, March 10
UNSW Canberra Oval

The Western Bulldogs will look to cement a top-two finish when they take on Greater Western Sydney in Canberra on Saturday night.

Bulldog Brooke Lochland is the competition's leading goalkicker with 11 majors, and will again be an important player in the continued absence of key forward and captain Katie Brennan.

The Bulldogs made one change, recalling former Melbourne forward Deanna Berry to replace Laura Bailey.

Bulldogs midfielder Kirsty Lamb said the team spoke post-match after their round five win over Collingwood about not playing the way they wanted to in parts of the victory.

"That was purely because Collingwood brought a lot of pressure around the footy. It was a good learning curve for us to practice our game style under immense pressure, which I have no doubt teams will look to bring when they play us," the 23-year-old said.

The Giants will be desperate to beat the top side and keep their own Grand Final chances alive, taking in an unchanged line-up after an 18-point victory against Fremantle last week.

Giants' ruck Erin McKinnon is in All Australian form, averaging 23.8 hit-outs per game, while midfielder Courtney Gum had 16 disposals and laid eight tackles last week. The duo will look to link with their midfield teammates and get the ball down quickly to formidable forward trio Jacinda Barclay, Cora Staunton and Phoebe McWilliams.

Defender Ellie Brush, former captain of Canberra United in the W-League, urged fans to get to the game.

"I know many of my friends and family will be there, but if we can get an orange army out there, it would be amazing," Brush told giants.com.au

Courtney Gum has been influential for the Giants. Picture: AFL Photos

Carlton v Melbourne
4.35pm (AEDT), Sunday, March 11
Ikon Park

Following a return to the winners' list against Brisbane last Friday night, Melbourne will look to dispose of Carlton in the last game of round six.  

The Demons need to win if they are to continue to threaten for a top-two finish. Forward Tegan Cunningham has been picked to play despite a nasty head clash with Lion Nicole Hildebrand last week. Former Blue Bianca Jakobsson won't face her old side after a quad injury, while defender Meg Downie returns from a shoulder injury. Laura Duryea and Emma Humphries were also named in the extended squad.

Coach Mick Stinear said his team must look to capitalise more on opportunities around goal, after kicking 4.10 against the Lions last weekend.

"Our skipper Daisy [Pearce] was accurate, which was fantastic early. As the game went on, we kept Brisbane in it with our inability to finish the game early," Stinear told melbournefc.com.au.

"There is certainly an opportunity to improve with our inside-50 finish."

Carlton has struggled to replicate its early-season form and has had three straight losses. Ruck Breann Moody, who was this week recognised with a NAB AFLW Rising Star nomination, said the team wanted to finish the season on a high.

"The vibe [in the team] is still pretty strong. Unfortunately, we didn't get the results we wanted in the last few rounds, but we have a lot of positives and strong focal points," the 21-year-old said.

"We hope to come home strong in the last two rounds."

Carlton made several changes, resting young duo Reni Hicks and Courtney Webb, while Lauren Arnell and Lauren Brazzale will miss through injury. Making her debut is Tiahna Cochrane, the great-niece of former Carlton great Trevor Keogh. Cochrane was elevated from the rookie list for injured skipper Brianna Davey. Jess Hosking, Madeline Keryk, Natalie Plane, Laura Attard and Sarah Last were named in the extended squad.

Carlton is this weekend supporting gender equality for the prevention of violence against women, with players wearing orange socks. Supporters are encouraged to wear a touch of orange as a show of support.

Goal umpires in all NAB AFLW matches will wave purple flags in recognition of International Women's Day. 

Breann Moody and the Blues will look to avoid a fourth straight defeat. Picture: AFL Photos