Full AFLW R2 preview: A big test for Tigers, Whitten Oval's WA double-header

PLAYER availability has seen the 2022 NAB AFLW fixture change again ahead of round two. Geelong and Carlton will now face one another at GMHBA Stadium on Saturday evening, while a Brisbane v Western Bulldogs match will be scheduled for a later date.

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For the first time, four non-Victorian sides will play in a Sunday double header in the southern state, while the Kangaroos will head to South Australia for the first time in their AFLW history. 

Friday, January 14

Richmond v Melbourne at the Swinburne Centre, 7.10pm AEDT

  • The Tigers unveiled improved skills across the ground as they moved the ball through the congestion with ease against St Kilda. Taking charge of the midfield battle after the first quarter, Richmond controlled possession and was able to regularly hit up key marking forwards. The Demons, however, are a different prospect. Dominating possession and using a clean kick-mark game around the ground, the Tigers need to be aware of players finding space on the open side of the ground. 
  • Both sides showcased some really strong forward marking in their round one performances, with Courtney Wakefield, Katie Brennan and Tayla Harris all taking multiple marks inside 50. Separating defences is important for Melbourne, and preventing the defensive duo of Rebecca Miller and Harriet Cordner from coming in to support one another will be a priority for them.  
  • Tip: While Richmond has grown yet again, and found tighter chemistry as a group, Melbourne's methodical game style should win out. Melbourne by 18 points. 

WATCH IT LIVE Tigers v Demons

Melbourne's Kate Hore and Lily Mithen celebrate a win against Richmond in round two, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Saturday, January 15

Collingwood v St Kilda at Victoria Park, 3.10pm AEDT

  • Collingwood's ball use is among the best in the competition, and has been for the last few seasons. After going at 65 per cent disposal efficiency in round one, that clean disposal will be a safeguard against the pressure St Kilda will look to bring. While the Pies' dominance at stoppages might be slightly diminished without Brianna Davey or Tarni Brown in the side, the grit and intelligence of Jaimee Lambert and Brittany Bonnici will prop up their midfield to win first use of the ball. 
  • The Saints' midfield looked different in round one, with both Tilly Lucas-Rodd and Tarni White playing on the ball, and while this caught the Tigers out early, the Saints couldn't sustain any real control for the full four quarters. Finding a way to limit the Pies' movement to the outside after winning first possession will be St Kilda's best chance of combating that, and that starts with some real discipline and awareness from players sitting outside the contest. 
  • Tip: Collingwood's maturity and control will be too much for the Saints to handle. Collingwood by 25 points. 

WATCH IT LIVE Magpies v Saints

Collingwood's Sarah Rowe looks to evade St Kilda's Tilly Lucas-Rodd during round eight, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Geelong v Carlton at GMHBA Stadium, 7.10pm AEDT

  • New and returning players added a real spark to the Cats last week, and while they didn't come away with the four points, improvement was evident across the ground. What they can't allow themselves to do against Carlton, however, is get trapped in defence and resort to desperate, long kicks out of the back half directly to a waiting opposition. Finding some composure and time will be crucial to the continued improvement at Geelong. 
  • Carlton's lack of discipline marred what was otherwise an interesting first round performance. Late in the game, the Blues succumbed to pressure when sending the ball forward, and played right into Collingwood's hands. What the Blues need to do against Geelong is find more nuance in their delivery inside 50, and that includes a combination of running it forward and moving around the 50m arc before actually sending the ball closer to goal. 
  • Tip: Geelong's work around the contest will take a bit of beating, but Carlton's firepower up forward will eventually win out. Carlton by 10 points. 

WATCH IT LIVE Cats v Blues

Carlton's Lucy McEvoy in action against Geelong in round six, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Sunday, January 16

West Coast v Gold Coast at Victoria University Whitten Oval, 12.40pm AEDT

  • West Coast showed plenty of improvement last week but struggled to find a real connection between the midfield and forward line. Finding the balance between a spacious forward 50 where players can reliably run the ball in, and enough support that when the ball is won up the field, they have options when looking toward goal seems to be the Eagles' challenge right now. 
  • Gold Coast had to battle it out in the heat and humidity of Mackay and struggled to maintain its intensity until the final siren. What the Suns did well, however, was taking chances at goal when getting the ball inside 50, taking a shot on goal 56 per cent of the time. The problem being, they only registered 16 inside 50s for the match. Finding more territory will be crucial to the Suns' chances against West Coast.  
  • Tip: West Coast's young talent will get to work up against the Suns. Eagles by 6 points. 

WATCH IT LIVE Eagles v Suns

West Coast's Grace Kelly kicks under pressure against Gold Coast during round five, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Adelaide v North Melbourne at Norwood Oval, 2.40pm ACDT

  • Adelaide's wall-to-wall pressure in round one was ominous. The side's fitness level is elite, which means the Crows are not only suffocating opposition but also able to neatly use the ball themselves. The Roos look to win uncontested ball to get their game going, and if last week is anything to go by, the Crows won't be giving up any easy possessions. 
  • For the first time in its four seasons, North Melbourne will travel to South Australia to play for premiership points. Coming off a win that required real grit and determination, the Roos will be looking to find their groove again when it comes to outside run and carry in an effort to keep Adelaide's defence under pressure and allow less chance to set up behind the ball. 
  • Tip: North Melbourne looks likely to be bolstered by some inclusions, but Adelaide's fitness and depth across all lines is too big a barrier. Adelaide by 18 points. 

WATCH IT LIVE Crows v Kangaroos

North Melbourne's Ellie Gavalas looks to handball under pressure from Adelaide's Ebony Marinoff during round five, 2020. Picture: AFL Photos

Fremantle v Greater Western Sydney at Victoria University Whitten Oval, 5.10pm AEDT 

  • Fremantle might have recorded a dominant win last week, but the side relied on Ebony Antonio, Hayley Miller and Gabby O'Sullivan to get its scoring going, with more than half of that score piled on in the final quarter. The Dockers will be looking for more support across the forward line, and to shake off the slow starts that plagued their 2021 season. 
  • GWS found a more efficient transition between its strong midfield and outside runners. Up against Fremantle's hard hitting midfield, protection needs to be available for Alyce Parker and Alicia Eva around the ball so space can be found, and that transition can continue into round two. 
  • Tip: Fremantle's ability to run out games will keep its winning momentum going. Fremantle by 15 points.

WATCH IT LIVE Dockers v Giants

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