Ahead of the AFLW finals series, aflplayers.com.au caught up with two-time premiership player and former Adelaide star Courtney Cramey to preview the first week of action.
Melbourne v Fremantle, Saturday April 3, 12:05pm at Casey Fields.
Key players: Melbourne
Lauren Pearce has done a ton of work of late, as a key ruck but what she does around the ground is really important for the Dees. She’s going to be crucial. Kate Hore is having a fantastic year up forward, so if she can get on the scoreboard, that’s going to go a long way to getting them over the line. Daisy Pearce (out with a knee injury) is a massive part of their team and very much a spiritual leader, but they’ve shown that they’re a pretty resilient group and they’ve coped with ‘Dais’ not being there previously.
Shelley Scott, who’s previously held leadership roles, stood up last weekend and kicked a few, so I think they’ll be OK.
Key players: Fremantle
I think it’s in their forward power. For Freo, if you can get Gemma Houghton on the scoreboard, even Roxy Roux down there, they’re the key for Freo. When Ebony Antonio and Stephanie Cain are running rampant on the wings, that connection that they want and that fast rebound footy definitely happens when they’re firing, so it’ll just be about them bringing it all together. Last time they met, Kiara Bowers had a relatively quiet game by her standards, so if she’s on, they’ll have every chance. We know she is a tackling machine, the way she uses the ball, too, is pretty unreal and it’s a calming influence. When she’s on and at the level it just makes all those young girls around her rise.
Where the game will be won
Watching Melbourne of late, they’re in form compared to Freo and I think the game will be won around the contest. Melbourne’s contested work at the moment is really strong. Their pressure is immense at the moment, and they’ve got some great synergy. They have that belief; you can see it amongst the playing group. Someone like Eliza McNamara, a young kid, is just going about her business and being a strong contributor and getting herself a Rising Star nomination as well, they just have a good sense of team at the moment.
Courtney’s tip: Melbourne.
Collingwood v North Melbourne, Saturday April 3, 2:10pm at Victoria Park.
Key players: Collingwood
If Brianna Davey doesn’t get well held, Brittany Bonnici just keeps finding the ball, and Jaimee Lambert, they’re their real main drivers in the midfield, if they get on top early it’ll be hard [for North Melbourne]. I see this game as a battle of the stars. Chloe Molloy has obviously played that role up forward for most of the year, so if she can hit the scoreboard and have an impact early, it will be a real fillip for the Pies.
Key players: North Melbourne
Jenna Bruton was a loss for them last week [through suspension] but they were still able to get over the line, so having her come back into the team will only build on their confidence. Jasmine Garner has had another fantastic year and had an impact around the ground, but can also hit the scoreboard. Emma Kearney does a truckload of work in the midfield as well.
Where the game will be won
Both sides have high-end talent, so for me it will be a matter of what the whole list can contribute. The girls that don’t normally get a lot of it, if they can contribute and play their role, I think that will determine who comes out on top. In terms of both teams’ systems, they pride themselves on contested possessions. [First-year North Melbourne coach] Darren Crocker has obviously come in with a new approach to the game for the girls. It’s going to come down to scoreboard pressure and momentum.
Courtney’s tip: North Melbourne.