The AFL has taken out two birds with one stone by introducing an AFL Women’s State of Origin game to take place in the bye round.
Fans get the State of Origin fix they’ve been longing for and AFLW gets a massive spotlight leading into finals.
The match takes place on Saturday night at Etihad Stadium and the squads feature the best talent in women’s footy today.
But who will take the bragging rights, Victoria or the Allies?
Making a prediction is not easy given how much talent both teams have access to. On their day, either side could win.
One thing to note is goals kicked from outside of 40m will be worth nine points and while this gimmick probably wasn’t necessary, it could open the door for a high scoring contest.
The Allies will probably have the advantage up forward, especially with this nine point rule in place.
They boast Sabrina Frederick-Traub, Katie Brennan and Tayla Harris as key position forwards who are all mobile enough to function together in one forward line.
Add in Kate McCarthy and Bianca Jakobsson as smaller forward line options and you have yourself a lot of firepower.
On the Victorian side of things, losing Darcy Vescio makes things a little more difficult up forward, but they still have Sarah Perkins, Moana Hope and Jasmine Garner.
Hope has found some good form in the VFL, kicking 14 goals in six games, but without Vescio the Vics are looking outgunned.
Where Victoria will need to dominate is through the midfield and they’ll certainly have the group to do so.
Daisy Pearce, Ellie Blackburn and Kara Donnellan is about as good a starting midfield as you can possibly get and as a bonus, they have quite a few goal kicking midfielders.
Add Emma Kearney, Brianna Davey, Lauren Arnell, Karen Paxman, Jess Dal Pos and Kaitlyn Ashmore and you have a gun midfield with plenty of resting forward options.
The Allies aren’t as strong through the midfield, but their starting group of Emily Bates, Ebony Marinoff and Elise O’Dea is elite and they also have the likes of Emma Swanson and Dana Hooker, but not much after that.
The Victorians bat so deep in the midfield they’ll get the ascendancy whenever the Allies don’t have their first-string midfield in there.
Brisbane and Adelaide were the two best teams last season and also were the two hardest sides to score against.
Given they’ll mostly be adding their defensive strengths together for the State of Origin match, the Vic’s might find it hard to score.
Chelsea Randall and Leah Kaslar will probably get the jobs on Perkins and Hope and you’d back them in to quell their influence.
The Allies will be without All-Australian defender Sam Virgo though after she ruptured her ACL.
So breaking it down, the Allies will have the ascendancy down back and up forward, but the Victorian side is much stronger through the midfield.
The perfect conditions of Etihad Stadium will probably suit the smaller Victorian team too, but having said that, it’s hard not to tip the Allies.
Just looking at the squads, the Allies have a far more balanced team, while the Vic side is mostly midfield types.
Expect a shoot-out and expect a quality game of footy, but the Allies will probably be too strong in the end.
The Victorian selectors might rue not picking 18-year-old gun Chloe Molloy who is currently the leading goal kicker in the VFL.
The Allies by 7 points
Best on ground: Brianna Davey (Victoria)