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2023 NAB AFLW Season 8
Melbourne v Kangaroos
Round 8 •
37 5.7
Full Time
14 2.2
Demons Won By 23

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    Full R8 preview: Three top-eight shapers, do-or-die for Dogs

    With two top-four clashes, there's plenty at stake during round eight. Gemma Bastiani takes a look at all the key points ahead of a big weekend of footy

    Maddi Newman and Orla O'Dwyer are seen during the season seven preliminary final between Adelaide and Brisbane. Picture: AFL Photos

    WITH serious finals implications for several teams, including a battle for places in the top four, the coming weekend of footy has plenty on the line. 

    The top four will go head-to-head, with Brisbane and Adelaide meeting for the 10th time, and Narrm and North Melbourne ready to do battle for second spot, while Collingwood and Geelong will play off to maintain a comfortable position in the eight. 

    02:03

    FRIDAY, OCTOBER 20

    Hawthorn v Richmond at Cazaly's Stadium, 6.45pm AEST

    A trip to Cairns to face the Hawks is an opportunity for Richmond to get its season back on track after a frustrating month of results. This one is a must-win for the Tigers should they remain any chance for a second consecutive finals series. Their captain Katie Brennan and boom Hawthorn recruit Greta Bodey will each run out for career game No.50, so both sides will be on a mission to get the job done for their milestone forward. 

    Hawthorn is the highest tackling team the competition has ever seen, averaging 81.1 tackles per game thanks to its defend first mentality. It is a style that can really take opposition teams away from how they want to play, and it is in the face of this pressure that Richmond must stand tall. As recent weeks have shown, as long as Richmond is in touching distance come the final quarter, they are in with a shot, always pushing hard late in games to snatch a win. 

    Tip: The Tigers will get some reprieve. Richmond by 10 points. 

    Katie Brennan (left) and Monique Conti walk out ahead of round six, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

    SATURDAY, OCTOBER 21

    Western Bulldogs v Sydney at VU Whitten Oval, 1.05pm AEDT

    The Dogs and the Swans have never played one another before, and come into this game on very different footing to what would have been expected preseason. The Western Bulldogs, still winless and further impacted by injury, will view this game as an opportunity to regain some pride, while the Swans will be focused on making up for a poor showing last week. The latter have admitted they need to find more balance between their want to win uncontested possession and maintaining strength on the inside.  

    Winning 24.1 fewer disposals than their opponents each week and turning the ball over at an alarming rate, the Bulldogs may have an opportunity to find more consistent chains of possession against Sydney, the lowest pressure side in the competition this year. Questions still hang over the Dogs' ability to run games out, and the Swans will no doubt be keen to exploit that. With key defender Katie Lynch ruled out for the rest of the season, Issy Grant is left to play the main defensive role alongside Gabby Newton, and with Bec Privitelli in career-best form, there is a chance for Sydney to generate some really genuine scoring opportunities with its inside 50 entries. 

    Tip: The Swans will bounce back. Sydney by seven points. 

    03:20

    Brisbane v Adelaide at Brighton Homes Arena, 2.05pm AEST

    In game No.10 between these two inaugural powerhouses, with Ally Anderson, Shannon Campbell, Breanna Koenen, Anne Hatchard, Ebony Marinoff and Stevie-Lee Thompson to feature in all of them. Last time they played, last season's preliminary final, was a bruising affair that saw the Lions get over the top. This season, the Crows are the team to beat, averaging nearly two goals per game more than Brisbane, and playing a truly unforgiving style of football. 

    As a forward pressure side, the Lions need to establish a territory game. Still without Sarah Allan and now missing Najwa Allen due to suspension, the home side has a chance to put them under the pump both in the air with Dakota Davidson and Taylor Smith, and on the ground with Courtney Hodder and Lily Postlethwaite. What serves the Crows particularly well, however, is the work rate of powerhouse midfield duo Anne Hatchard and Ebony Marinoff. Brisbane must remain super accountable to the pair, because they can be incredibly damaging. 

    Tip: The Lions' record at their new home won't get any better. Adelaide by 12 points. 

    Caitlin Gould celebrates a goal during round six, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

    Greater Western Sydney v Carlton at Henson Park, 3.05pm AEDT

    Of the six times the Giants and the Blues have played one another, the former have won just once – their most recent meeting. Heading into this weekend, however, GWS has some huge gaps to fill in the midfield. With star Alyce Parker out injured, and important ball winner Bec Beeson suspended, the home side will be without more than a third of its clearance winning power. In addition, they are giving up the most clearances in AFLW history, allowing their opposition to win 30.6 per game. It is here that the Blues need to hit the Giants the hardest. Win stoppages and maintain control in their front half from there. 

    In contrasting styles of play, the Giants want to move the ball by hand, averaging an AFLW record 114.4 handballs per game, while Carlton is keen to get the ball on the boot to gain ground. Should the Blues apply immense forward pressure as they did in round one against the Suns, they have an opportunity to really wear down a GWS defence that has had to work particularly hard this year. 

    Tip: Without Parker and Beeson, it's all a bit too difficult for the Giants. Carlton by 15 points.

    Carlton players celebrate a win during round six, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

    Yartapuulti v Gold Coast at Alberton Oval, 4.35pm ACDT

    Although recording its biggest ever loss last week, Yartapuulti will take solace from that face that it was able to press in the first quarter, using pressure to slow North Melbourne's attack and score off the back of that itself. It is this style of footy the Power must bring against Gold Coast on Saturday, but this is no mean feat given the Suns' contested strength. Meanwhile, due to some unfortunate injuries to key players Ange Foley has been repositioned in defence, but her ability to settle the backline coming up against the dangerous duo of Tara Bohanna and Jac Dupuy could be exactly what the Power needs. 

    Yartapuulti is still struggling to win the footy, and while its disposal efficiency is poor, it has worked hard to gain ground with each touch. Once forward, it is generating a shot on goal from nearly half of its inside 50s, although inaccurate in conversion. Gold Coast, however, is kicking reasonably accurately which has allowed it to average its highest ever score. This becomes even more important as the Power generally allows its opposition to convert at a high rate, something the Suns can take advantage of on Saturday. 

    Tip: The Suns will equal their most wins in a season this weekend. Gold Coast by 20 points. 

    Welcome to Yartapuulti Football Club

    The Port Adelaide Football Club has rebranded to Yartapuulti for the 2023 AFLW Indigenous Round

    Read the history
    Gold Coast players celebrate a win during round six, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

    Narrm v North Melbourne at Ikon Park, 7.15pm AEDT

    In the six matches between Narrm and North Melbourne, the latter have won just once: the first time they met back in 2019. Since then, a true rivalry has formed, although Narrm has always been the side to celebrate on the siren. Essentially what this game boils down to is the best attack the competition has ever seen; against the best defence the competition has ever seen. And between it all are two midfields packed with star players.  

    It will be a battle of wills to see which side's style wins out. The Roos are great at stopping sides from taking marks inside 50, while the Demons are taking them at record numbers. The Roos have a highly disciplined, well organised defensive structure that is conceding just 18 points per game, while the Demons have countless avenues to goal, kicking 75.3 points per game. 

    Good teams have limited Narrm by bringing pressure and slowing down that forward handball game by closing space. It takes a very fit team to do it for long enough, but North Melbourne is certainly a side that can challenge the Demons. Meanwhile the Roos have still been guilty of poor connection between its midfield and attack at times this season when challenged.  

    Tip: There will be big momentum swings, but the Demons will ultimately prevail. Narrm by three points. 

    02:09

    Welcome to Narrm Football Club

    The Melbourne Football Club has rebranded to Narrm for the 2023 AFLW Indigenous Round

    Read the history
    02:48

    SUNDAY, OCTOBER 22

    Collingwood v Geelong at Victoria Park, 1.05pm AEDT

    Another eight-shaper, the weather looks likely to play a significant role in this result. Forecast to be cool and wet, a scrappy, contested game will work more in Collingwood's favour than it will Geelong's. The Cats have found their best footy this year when moving the ball neatly and delivering inside 50 onto the chests of players like Chloe Scheer, Jackie Parry and Aishling Moloney. But in the wet weather when clean ball use is hard to come by, Geelong must adapt its mindset and be willing to play some ugly footy. 

    Collingwood, however, proved it can win in the thick of it last week. A strong first quarter followed by great adaptation to the slippery conditions allowed the Pies to record a third straight win and remain in the finals hunt. While Geelong typically starts games well and fades as the game wears on, this is a place where the Pies can capitalise. Remain in touch throughout the opening half, limiting the Cats' scoreboard pressure, before running away late in the game. 

    Tip: At their Victoria Park home, the Pies will make it four in a row. Collingwood by eight points.

    Collingwood celebrates a goal against Carlton in round seven, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

    Walyalup v St Kilda at Fremantle Oval, 12.05pm AWST

    Walyalup and St Kilda have not faced off since their controversial first meeting back in 2020, where a late 50m penalty paid against the Saints kept the Dockers' winning streak alive. This year, however, it is the Saints on a winning streak, having claimed the points in their last four games, while the Dockers are still working to establish themselves under a new coach. 

    St Kilda has found some reliable avenues to goal outside of boom recruit Jesse Wardlaw, but the absence of small forward Nat Exon is less than ideal. While through the middle of the ground they want to attack through the corridor with aggressive run and carry. Walyalup, however, has really struggled to make the most of its forward entries, relying heavily on Aine Tighe to generate scores. It is likely that star defender Bianca Jakobsson will be tasked with containing Tighe, which is the first major step in beating Walyalup. 

    Tip: The Saints' streak will continue. St Kilda by 13 points. 

    Welcome to Walyalup Football Club

    The Fremantle Football Club has rebranded to Walyalup for the 2023 AFLW Indigenous Round

    Read the history

    Welcome to Walyalup Football Club

    The Fremantle Football Club has rebranded to Walyalup for the 2023 AFLW Indigenous Round

    Read the history
    Serene Watson, Ella Friend and Jesse Wardlaw celebrate St Kilda's win over Hawthorn at RSEA Park in round six, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

    Essendon v West Coast at Windy Hill, 5.05pm AEDT

    When these two sides met for the first-time last year the Bombers piled on their highest ever score of 84 points to record their biggest ever win. The Eagles are unfortunately coming off a tumultuous week, with comments from head coach Michael Prior capturing attention on Sunday after their 70-point loss to Narrm. What went under the radar amongst it all, however, was West Coast's ability to keep Narrm goalless in the second term, something only Adelaide has achieved this year. At their best, when they bring consistent work rate and defensive effort, the Eagles can match it with good sides. They just need to learn how to do it for longer. 

    Essendon will be without some key players, with Daria Bannister now added to the injury list that already includes the likes of Brooke Brown, Georgia Gee, and Jacqui Vogt. Bannister in particular is a loss given her ability to come up to be an extra at stoppages before pressing back into attack. But coming up against West Coast, the worst contested ball and clearance team in the competition, that extra around the contest may be less necessary than it has been against other sides this year.  

    Tip: West Coast needs to show something, but it won't be enough. Essendon by 35 points. 

    Steph Wales and Bonnie Toogood celebrate a goal during round seven, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos
    00:45

    Statement made: Demons down Roos to reclaim top spot

    North Melbourne got a fast start but it was all Narrm's way as it goes back to the top of the ladder

    Georgia Campbell celebrates during the AFLW round 8 match between Narrm (Melbourne) and North Melbourne at IKON Park, October 21, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

    NARRM has reclaimed top spot on the ladder with a commanding win over North Melbourne, defeating the Roos by 23 points at Ikon Park.

    It's yet another disappointing top-four loss for North Melbourne which, after the 5.7 (37) to 2.2 (14) result, has a 2-13 win-loss record against the Demons, Brisbane and Adelaide in their AFLW history.

    DEMONS v KANGAROOS Full match coverage and stats

    The Roos' much-vaunted midfield was beaten by its smaller and quicker Demons counterparts, with Tyla Hanks – who often saves her very best for North Melbourne – leading the way with 26 disposals, seven clearances and a goal, well supported by Liv Purcell and Lily Mithen.

    04:09

    Jasmine Garner and Jenna Bruton were all well down on their usual sterling outputs; the team behind by eight in the clearances at three-quarter time (four by the end of the match) and behind in both contested and uncontested possessions, while Ash Riddell piled on 15 disposals in the fourth term to finish with 31.

    Early days, it looked as if North Melbourne had finally broken free of its mental shackles, with Niamh Martin's maiden AFLW goal coming just two minutes into the game.

    00:36

    The Demons were peppering, but the Roos' defence held up well in the first quarter, and the visitors actually took a six-point lead into the first break despite having less of the play.

    However, the dam wall broke in the second and third quarters, the Dees finally capitalising on their dominance around the ground to kick 3.4 to zero across the two terms.

    North Melbourne preferred to move the ball more deliberately with its kicking game, but Narrm's very tight one-on-one defence made that difficult, and the Roos just could not clear the Demons' wall across the centre.

    00:37

    By contrast, Narrm preferred to run and carry the ball at pace, with Shelley Heath used through the midfield to both keep a close eye on North’s stars and provide a serious spark of her own.

    In the absence of Tayla Harris (hamstring) – yes, Narrm still has Harris to add back into this mix – Kate Hore was a strong marking target, while Eden Zanker kept the North Melbourne defenders on their toes.

    00:30

    Mia King was North Melbourne's best, trying hard for all four quarters with her 20 disposals and 13 tackles.

    Taming the trident attack
    How to beat North Melbourne's infamous three tall forwards, Kate Shierlaw, Emma King and Tahlia Randall? Simple. Starve them of the footy. Both sides played a spare in defence, and such was the pressure coming from further afield the few times the Roos were able to break through after quarter-time, the Dees' loose defender ate up the stray kicks, with Tahlia Gillard particularly strong.

    The ladder now
    Narrm will finish the round in first position after Brisbane defeated Adelaide, robbing the Crows of the one-match buffer they had created. North Melbourne remains in the top four, but is now one game behind the top two, and need to maintain that healthy percentage with Essendon sniffing around in fifth.

    Up next
    Narrm is back on its other home deck of Casey Fields, hosting Walyalup on Saturday afternoon. Another stern challenge awaits North Melbourne, travelling to face Adelaide at Norwood Oval on Sunday.

    ALL THE HIGHLIGHTS

    NARRM                          1.1     3.4     4.5     5.7     (37)
    NORTH MELBOURNE     2.1     2.1     2.1     2.2     (14) 

    GOALS
    Narrm: Sherriff, Hore, Campbell, Hanks, Zanker
    North Melbourne: Martin, Craven 

    BEST
    Narrm: Hanks, Purcell, Hore, Mithen, B.Mackin, Gillard
    North Melbourne: M.King, Kearney, Riddell, Garner, O'Shea 

    INJURIES
    Narrm: Nil
    North Melbourne: Nil 

    LATE CHANGES
    Narrm: Aimee Mackin (ankle) and Gab Colvin (Achilles) replaced in selected side by Megan Fitzsimon and Charlotte Wilson
    North Melbourne: Nil

    Crowd: 2,704 at Ikon Park

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