We are less than a week away from the 2019 AFLW season getting underway which means it’s time to make some predictions.
With a new conference system in place and two new teams joining the competition, things are going to be very different this season.
Two teams from each conference will advance to the finals and given there’s only seven games, there’s no time for any mistakes.
Predicting Geelong and North Melbourne is impossible before we see the teams run out there, but the Roos have assembled a team made up of a mix of stars poached from other teams and a young core of Tasmanian talent.
The Cats meanwhile have a more experienced side, mostly made up of players from their VFLW side and topped up with a few AFLW stars and the top two picks in last year’s draft.
Both teams are genuine finals chances; the Cats should be in contention given they’re in the weaker Conference B, while North Melbourne should be able to hold their own against the likes of the Crows, Dees and Bulldogs.
Conference A winner: Adelaide
The Crows might not necessarily be the best team in Conference A, but they’ve drawn a favourable fixture they can take advantage of.
Of their first four games, they play three in South Australia and Carlton away. They should start favourites in all four games.
In a competition where the team winning the conference could theoretically be only two wins ahead of the side in last place, these little edges could mean everything.
Erin Phillips back to her best, one of the competition’s rising star in Ebony Marinoff and a strong defensive group give them enough firepower to pick up four or five wins for the season.
They also picked up Katelyn Rosenzweig, who lead the SANFL women’s competition at 18 years old in goal kicking, who will compliment Phillips and Sarah Perkins up forward.
Conference A runner up: North Melbourne
North Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs are the two teams that are tough to split for the second finals spot, but the injury to Brooke Lochland as well as the news Isabel Huntington will miss most of the season gives the edge to the North Melbourne Tasmanian Kangaroos.
The Roos have put together a list with 10 players rated above average or elite by Champion Data, with Moana Hope and Jasmine Grierson there as well.
They have plenty of firepower up forward and class across every line. The issue will be whether their depth players prove up to AFLW standard, but if they get some injury luck, they should be among the teams competing for finals.
Conference A ladder prediction:
- Western Bulldogs
Conference B winner: GWS
The Giants have put together an incredibly strong midfield core with Courtney Gum, Alicia Eva, Jess Dal Pos, Emma Swanson and Erin McKinnon now joined by star 18-year-old Alyce Parker and Collingwood’s Christina Bernardi.
Bernardi was brilliant for the Pies last year as a high half-forward and should bring that exact same role to GWS.
Losing Phoebe McWilliams as a key forward hurts, but they should still have the scoring power with the likes of Jacinda Barclay, Cora Staunton and Yvonne Bonner providing a dynamic forward line to contend with.
It’s hard to see them dropping a game in New South Wales and four wins could be all that’s needed to win Conference B.
Conference B runner up: Brisbane
The Lions are coming off successive Grand Final losses and despite losing some talent to the expansion sides, Craig Starcevich’s team should still be the standard bearer of the competition.
Defensively, they’ve only given up 344 points total across both seasons. Carlton conceded 320 in 2018 alone.
They have a defensive structure that has proven tough to crack, with Leah Kaslar, Breanna Koenen and Kate Lutkins now re-joined by 2017 All-Australian Sam Virgo after she missed last year with a knee injury.
Losing Kaitlyn Ashmore hurts, but their midfield still boasts quite a bit of depth and their forward line of Sabrina Frederick-Traub, Jessica Wuetschner and Kate McCarthy provides star power.
Frederick-Traub can spend more time up forward this year with the Lions finally adding a genuine ruck in Lauren Bella as well.
Conference B ladder prediction:
Tune in to the AFLW on SEN podcast for full season previews here!