Practice match wrap: Eagles notch first (unofficial) win over Freo, new recruits shine

BRISBANE picked up where it left off, North Melbourne trialled Emma Kearney at half-back while Demon Kate Hore booted four goals as practice matches were played over the weekend.

West Coast and Fremantle faced off on Tuesday night, with the Eagles recording their first unofficial win over their cross-town rivals.

BRISBANE 9.15 (69) def GOLD COAST 1.2 (8)

Friday 17 December, 6pm AEST, Leyshon Park

The reigning premiers kicked things off in style, holding Gold Coast scoreless until the end of the third term.

Untried forward Zimmie Farquharson booted three ahead of her second season on an AFLW list, while Greta Bodey and draftee Luka Yoshida-Martin also caused chaos in attack.

Ex-Tiger Phoebe Monahan slotted in nicely to the tight-knit Brisbane backline, with Kate Lutkins, Shannon Campbell and new skipper Breanna Koenen all performing well.

Usually making minimal changes in-season, the Lions took the opportunity to get some time into different players, with Lulu Pullar (defence) and Ruby Svarc (wing) getting a good run, while Gabby Collingwood made her return from a torn ACL.

Gold Coast's Charlie Rowbottom is tackled during a practice match against Brisbane in December 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

The scoreline blew out somewhat as the game progressed, as Gold Coast struggled to take its opportunities going into attack.

The Suns were without best-and-fairest Lauren Ahrens (foot), leaving skipper Hannah Dunn to play as an undersized third key defender alongside Jade Pregelj and recruit Vivien Saad.

No.1 pick Charlie Rowbottom impressed with her tackle pressure, as did Kate Surman across half-forward.

Ruck Lauren Bella was busy around the ground, while 2020 All Australian forward Kalinda Howarth played managed minutes off half-back, with Tori Groves-Little impressing up forward.

GOALS

Brisbane: Farquharson 3, Bodey 2, Yoshida-Martin, Ellenger, Lutkins, Smith

Gold Coast: Groves-Little

Brisbane's Sophie Conway in action against Gold Coast in a practice match on December 17, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

MELBOURNE 6.5 (41) def COLLINGWOOD 3.4 (22)

Saturday 18 December, 10am AEDT, Casey Fields

Dangerous forward Kate Hore was the star of the show at Casey Fields, booting four of Melbourne's six goals.

It was a fourth-term blitz that did the damage for Melbourne, overcoming a slow start to pile on four majors to nil.

Wild weather was once again a feature of a match at Casey – at quarter time, the game was delayed by 20 minutes after a lightning strike in sunny conditions, before rain and wind kicked in as the footy progressed.

Libby Birch was in fine touch in defence, while key forward Jackie Parry spent some time in the ruck supporting Lauren Pearce.

Pies recruit Sabrina Frederick set the tone early, booting a goal from about 60m, and kicked all three of the team's majors.

Two came in the first quarter, with Collingwood then struggling somewhat with its connection into attack.

Draftee Eliza James racked up some valuable midfield minutes, while small defender Alana Porter was a standout in defence and Jordy Allen spent time at both ends of the field.

Chloe Molloy was a late withdrawal with back tightness, but the Pies are confident it isn't a major concern.

GOALS

Melbourne: Hore 4, West, Hanks

Collingwood: Frederick 3

Melbourne's Tayla Harris looks on after a win in a practice match against Collingwood on December 18, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

ADELAIDE v GWS

Cancelled due to a positive COVID-19 case in the GWS AFLW football program.

The Crows trained as normal on Friday night, while the Giants ran their usual Saturday session.

CARLTON 6.10 (46) def ST KILDA 4.4 (28)

Saturday 18 December, 11am AEDT, Ikon Park

Carlton shot out of the blocks, booting three quick goals in the first quarter and holding the lead for the remainder of the game at Ikon Park.

Darcy Vescio kicked her two majors in the first term, working well with Nicola Stevens in attack.

Midfielders Maddy Prespakis, Grace Egan, Abbie McKay and Lucy McEvoy found plenty of the footy throughout the game against an under-strength St Kilda engine room.

Gab Pound and Charlotte Wilson held the fort in defence, with Nat Plane instrumental in rebound off half-back.

The Saints were pleased to get some game time into midfield duo Olivia Vesely and Rosie Dillon, who have been battling injuries this pre-season. The pair played a half each, and had good effect in limited game time.

Draftees Ella Friend (defence) and Ash Richards (wing and half-forward) showed promising glimpses in their first hitout at senior level, with Friend having spent most of pre-season finishing her schooling in Ballarat.

Darcy Guttridge and Isabella Shannon were some of the Saints' best, providing plenty of pressure across half-forward, while Hannah Priest and Bianca Jakobsson were effective in defence. 

GOALS

Carlton: Vescio 2, Stevens 2, Hammans, B. Walker

St Kilda: Guttridge, Matin, Richards, Shannon

St Kilda's Molly McDonald in action during a practice match against Carlton on December 18, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

WESTERN BULLDOGS 1.2 (8) lost to NORTH MELBOURNE 8.11 (59)

Saturday 18 December, 1pm AEDT, VU Whitten Oval

North Melbourne waltzed away from a severely undermanned Western Bulldogs outfit at VU Whitten Oval.

The Dogs were without first-21 players Izzy Huntington, Kirsten McLeod, Katie Lynch, Gemma Lagioia, Sarah Hartwig, Elisabeth Georgostathis, Bailey Hunt and Deanna Berry.

Star key forward Huntington suffered a knock at training, and is expected to be fine for round one.

Emma Kearney was damaging in a new role across half-back, with Mia King spending more time in the midfield as a consequence.

Kearney wasn't the only one to be trialled in a new position, with key back Tahlia Randall thrown forward and developing tall Brooke Brown lining up in defence.

Ash Riddell found plenty of the footy, while Kaitlyn Ashmore kicked two goals from the wing.

Despite being named in the extended squad, Jess Duffin did not take to the field as she continues to transition from WBBL to AFLW.

Dogs tall Ellyse Gamble played a near-lone hand in defence, impressing with her intercept marking and ability to cover the ground.

Ellie Blackburn tried her heart out in her customary fashion, recruit Elle Bennetts spent some time as an inside midfielder, while Aurora Smith and Amanda Ling showed promising signs in their first AFLW hitouts.

Nell Morris-Dalton was the Dogs' best forward of centre with extremely limited supply.

GOALS

Western Bulldogs: Morris-Dalton

North Melbourne: Riddell 2, Garner 2, Ashmore 2, Bateman, Em. King

The Western Bulldogs' Ellie Blackburn looks to handball during a practice match against North Melbourne on December 18, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

RICHMOND 3.7 (25) def. by GEELONG 6.12 (48)

Saturday 18 December, 2pm AEDT, Swinburne Centre

New coach Dan Lowther had the perfect start as Geelong coach, unveiling a rejigged midfield and hitting the scoreboard heavily.

The Cats were virtually full-strength against a Richmond side missing regulars Ellie McKenzie, Sarah Hosking, Maddie Shevlin, Tessa Lavey, Christina Bernardi and late withdrawal Harriet Cordner.

Top Victorian draftee Georgie Prespakis hit the ground running, showing plenty of intent and finding a heap of the ball through the middle of the ground, while Nina Morrison made a successful return from a torn ACL, suffered in March 2020.

Veteran key forward Phoebe McWilliams (three goals) relished the quality of delivery inside 50, and VFLW recruits Olivia Fuller (ruck) and Annabel Johnson (defence) looked comfortable at the top level.

Irishwoman Rachel Kearns played her first game of football up forward.

For the Tigers, Courtney Wakefield's strong contested marking caught the eye, while draftees Stella Reid and Emelia Yassir showed plenty of promise in attack.

Mature-age draftee Meagan Kiely slotted into the middle of the ground beautifully, finding plenty of footy before turning to a run-with role in the second half against a very busy Becky Webster.

Jess Hosking injured her shoulder in the second quarter, with more to be known about the severity of the injury later this week.

Former Roo Beth Lynch (also the sister of AFL Tiger Tom) lined up in defence as a top-up player.

GOALS

Richmond: Wakefield 2, Kiely

Geelong: McWilliams 3, Darby, Ivey, Higgins

Geelong's Nina Morrison looks on during a practice match against Richmond on December 18, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

FREMANTLE 3.5 (23) lost to WEST COAST 5.2 (32)

Tuesday 21 December, 5.30pm AWST, Cockburn ARC

West Coast recorded its first unofficial AFLW win over cross-town rival Fremantle, which was also new coach Michael Prior's first match in charge.

The much-improved Eagles were led superbly by No.3 draft pick Charlie Thomas, who played mostly on the wing, found plenty of the footy and used it beautifully.

Such is the young midfield core West Coast is developing, vice-captain Dana Hooker – in her first match since rupturing a tendon in her foot in February – played off half-back in the first half before shifting forward.

Defender Ashton Hill made a successful return from a torn ACL suffered at the start of 2020.

West Coast's Dana Hooker in action during a practice match against Fremantle on December 21, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Recruits Aimee Schmidt and Evie Gooch added some steel to the forward and defensive lines respectively, while draftee Sarah Lakay showed some nice signs as second ruck.

AFLW and Fremantle best and fairest Kiara Bowers picked up where she left off in limited game time, finding the footy at will, while Ann McMahon added some physicality across half-forward.

Draftee Dana East was sparky in an attack that was sorely missing Sabreena Duffy (work) and Ash Sharp (pregnancy), and fellow first-year Amy Franklin showed some promise at both ends of the ground.

Half-back/wing Airlie Runnalls – a mature-age draftee from North Melbourne VFLW – staked her claim for a round one spot.

The Dockers' only injury concern is Philipa Seth (ankle), who had been damaging in her new midfield role in the first half.

GOALS

Fremantle: Houghton, Webb, Stewart

West Coast: Gilmore 2, Thomas, Bowen, Bullas