AFLW finals 2021: All the latest Week 1 news, fixtures, updates and previews

It’s a huge weekend in the AFLW with Melbourne and Fremantle doing battle for the right to play Adelaide, before Collingwood and North Melbourne lock horns for the right to play Brisbane.

Which teams will progress to the preliminary finals? Our experts have had their say.


Crystal ball: Experts predict 2021 premiers, W Award winner and more.

X-Factors: Who holds key to every AFLW finals club?

Crows’ call: We deserve to host prelim


Matt Turner 51

Melbourne 11

North Melbourne 14

Last week: 4

Ebony Marinoff 49


North Melbourne

Last week: 4

Liz Walsh 49

Melbourne 7

Collingwood 14

Last week: 4

Mark Robinson 47

Melbourne 5

Collingwood 13

Last week: 5

Ellie Blackburn 46



Last week: 3

Ellie Blackburn is tipping Kiara Bowers and Fremantle to beat Melbourne. Picture: GettySource:Getty Images

Chris Cavanagh 46

Melbourne 1

Collingwood 6

Last week: 3

Glenn McFarlane 46

Melbourne 5

Collingwood 8

Last week: 2

Kate Salemme 46

Fremantle 2

North Melbourne 10

Last week: 4

Michael O’Brien 44

Melbourne 20

Collingwood 10

Last week: 4

Rebecca Williams 44

Melbourne 10

Collingwood 10

Last week: 2

Kate McCarthy 41



Last week: 3

Sarah Jones 40

Melbourne 3

Collingwood 10

Last week: 3

Darcy Vescio 39



Last week: 5

Kiss of Death 15

Fremantle 13

North Melbourne 13

Last week: 4

Most tipsters believe Collingwood will defeat North Melbourne. Picture: GettySource:Getty Images


Our expert panel gives their predictions for the AFLW premiership, runner-up and individual awards for season 2021 in out Crystal Ball.

Ellie Blackburn

Premier: Adelaide

They’ve got genuine matchwinners and are the best team I’ve played against.

Runner Up: Collingwood

GF Best on Ground Award: Erin Phillips

Player of the Finals: Anne Hatchard

NAB AFLW Best & Fairest Trophy: Brianna Davey

Bulldog Ellie Blackburn is tipping the all-conquering Crows for the AFLW flag. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Chris Cavanagh

Premier: Adelaide

The Crows have found their best form at the right time of year, with some dominant performances over recent weeks.

Runner Up: Collingwood

GF Best on Ground Award: Ebony Marinoff

Player of the Finals: Brianna Davey

NAB AFLW Best & Fairest Trophy: Kiara Bowers

Sarah Jones

Adelaide. Proven big game performers.

Runner Up: Collingwood

GF Best on Ground Award Erin Phillips

Player of the Finals Chloe Molloy

NAB AFLW Best & Fairest Trophy Brianna Davey

Ebony Marinoff

Premier: Adelaide

Experience, relentless, contested team.

Runner Up: Brisbane Lions

GF Best on Ground Award: Chelsea Randall

Player of the Finals: Anne Hatchard

NAB AFLW Best & Fairest Trophy: Brianna Davey

Kate McCarthy

Premier: Melbourne

Been building nicely the past few weeks and hard to stop when on a roll.

Runner Up: Brisbane

GF Best on Ground Award: Eden Zanker

Player of the Finals: Cathy Svarc

NAB AFLW Best & Fairest Trophy: Kiara Bowers

Glenn McFarlane

Premier: Adelaide

The Crows snatched top spot last week and a home prelim which means they will be very hard to beat for the flag.

Runner Up: Collingwood

GF Best on Ground Award: Erin Phillips

Player of the Finals: Brianna Davey

NAB AFLW Best & Fairest Trophy: Kiara Bowers

Michael O’Brien

Premier: Melbourne

That club needs a flag.

Runner Up: Adelaide

GF Best on Ground Award: Daisy Pearce

Player of the Finals: Erin Phillips

NAB AFLW Best & Fairest Trophy: Darcy Vescio #GoBlues

Mark Robinson

Premier: Adelaide

Coming together at the right time of the season.

Runner Up: Collingwood

GF Best on Ground Award: Chelsea Randall

Player of the Finals: Chloe Molloy

NAB AFLW Best & Fairest Trophy: Kiara Bowers

Darcy Vescio is on the popular pick Kiara Bowers for the AFLW best and fairest. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Darcy Vescio

Premier: Brisbane

Great team and I want to see Lauren Arnell win a premiership.

Runner: Up: Adelaide

GF Best On Ground Award: Kate Lutkins

Player of the Finals: Kate Lutkins

NAB AFLW Best & Fairest Trophy: Kiara Bowers

Kate Salemme

Premier: North Melbourne. Garner, Kearney, Riddell, Bruton, Gavalas – good luck trying to stop them in a big final. After overcoming some injury issues to key personnel over the season, the Kangaroos have settled their team and can go all the way. They’ve been waiting for this after the disappointment of last year.

Runner-up: Adelaide

Grand Final best on ground: Jasmine Garner

Player of the finals: Emma Kearney

League Best and Fairest: Kiara Bowers

Matt Turner

Premier: Adelaide

Finished on top and have plenty of experience in crunch finals games.

Runner Up: North Melbourne

GF Best on Ground Award: Erin Phillips

Player of the Finals: Jas Garner

NAB AFLW Best & Fairest Trophy: Kiara Bowers

Liz Walsh

Premier: Adelaide

Seasoned finals campaigners, with matchwinners across the ground who will rise to the occasion.

Runner Up: Collingwood

GF Best on Ground Award: Chelsea Randall

Player of the Finals: Brianna Davey

NAB AFLW Best & Fairest Trophy: Kiara Bowers

X-Factors: Who holds the key to each finals club’s hopes?Source:Supplied


It all comes down to this.

After an AFLW season that had everything, two sides get the week off to watch the other four battle it out for a chance at advancing.

LIZ WALSH profiles every finals team’s premiership hopes.


The 2021 minor premiers are seasoned finals campaigners and have set themselves up beautifully heading into the pointy end, with a week off before playing a home preliminary final.

The Crows will be putting a strong case to the AFL to play that prelim at Adelaide Oval, which will prove an intimidating cauldron for whoever they face in a fortnight’s time.

The issue for Adelaide is that their preliminary final opponent will be either Melbourne or Fremantle: the only two teams who have beaten them this season.

In those games, the Crows lost by considerable margins: to the Demons by 28 points and to the Dockers by 30, and both losses saw Adelaide’s scoring ability severely hampered (they kicked 2.3 against the Dees and 1.7 against Freo).

But coach Matthew Clarke is confident that the learnings from those losses have been important ones for the side developing their form and game plan.

What will scare any opponent is the fact that the Crows still have 17 players on their list who were part of the side that convincingly won the 2019 Grand Final over Carlton and three more were sitting on the sidelines.


Erin Phillips: Hard to go past the two-time grand final best on ground medallist who as their key. Will it be the 35-year-old’s final season? If yes, she’ll be more than driven to go out on top.

Dakota Davidson has been a forwardline sparkplug for the Lion. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images


Were well on track for the minor premiership until they fell victim to Melbourne by two points in the final round.

But a Top 2 finish earns them a week’s rest, which couldn’t have come at a better time given Greater Brisbane’s current COVID cluster and ensuing lockdown. It’s difficult to know at this early stage how that will affect not only their ability to train, but more importantly to host the preliminary final in a fortnight.

If all goes well and borders are open, the Lions could well fight to play their prelim at the Gabba, which would give them an immense home-ground advantage over their opposition, which will be the winner of Collingwood and North Melbourne.

With wins over fellow finals contenders Fremantle (in Perth), Collingwood (in Melbourne) and North Melbourne (at the Gabba), they’ll relish playing at home if they can, but have shown excellent form on the road.

Remarkably, when looking across the league’s top players rated by Champion Data ranking points, the second-placed Lions don’t have a single player inside the Top 25, which proves what a team performer this outfit is.


Dakota Davidson: With 13 goals to her name in 2021 (she kicked only two majors from six games last year), the 22-year-old is a live spark in the Lions forward line. You’ve got to live for her goal celebrations too.

Bri Davey is the Pies’ catalyst. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images


With an elite midfield that boasts the likes of Brianna Davey, Jaimee Lambert and Britt Bonnici, as well as an explosive forward in Chloe Molloy, it’s no wonder the Magpies were tagged the “Flag-pies” after being undefeated in six games this year.

This team is as tight-knit off the field as they are on it and coach Steve Symonds has had them roaring with a high-possession style of football.

But they lost their grip on the minor premiership after going down to Adelaide by 14 points on the road and they now have to fight North Melbourne for the right to play in the prelim. The Kangaroos beat them by three points in their 2020 semi-final and the Magpies will be looking for a bit of revenge, which their captain Stephanie Chiocci says her side will be using that as the added motivation to extend their season.

Will need to learn the lessons from their Round 9 loss to the Crows, including improving accuracy in front of goals and not allowing the Roos to get the jump on them early. They are a fast-finishing team, but won’t want to start their qualifying final on the backfoot.


Brianna Davey: The former Matilda is among the top candidates for this year’s AFLW best and fairest medal, after showcasing her strength and agility through the midfield. Has averaged 184 Champion Data ranking points per game in 2021.

Kiara Bowers is the popular pick for this year’s AFLW best and fairest. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images


Undefeated in 2020 but not given the chance to play out their excellent season after COVID shut down the AFLW, this season has always been about “unfinished business”.

Unsurprisingly then, the Dockers started 2021 exactly how they ended their last: beating all before them. In doing so, they set a new league record of 11 consecutive wins across their two seasons, before Brisbane ended their streak in Round 5.

But for Freo to progress any further in finals they’ll need to snap a streak they’re not used to: a losing one. The Dockers have lost their past two games in thrillers, going down to North Melbourne by one point and the red-hot Melbourne by five points a week earlier.

So how will they beat the Demons in their second attempt at Casey Fields? Firstly, they’ll need to shake off the slow starts that have dogged them all year: in their past three games, they’ve kicked only one point in each of their opening quarters. While coach Trent Cooper is hopeful they can turn around their low-scoring first terms, they’ll need to be on the front foot under finals pressure.


Kiara Bowers: The undisputed favourite to take out the AFLW’s best and fairest this year – is a pressure machine across the ground, averaging 21.2 touches, three inside-50s, 2.3 rebound-50s and 10.3 tackles a game.

Tyla Hanks has been a revelation for the Dees. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images


The Dees will enter their second AFLW finals campaign as close-to favourites, having beaten every team that now sits above them on the ladder. Melbourne were handed a hefty final three-weeks in the minor rounds facing Adelaide, Fremantle and Brisbane in succession. They beat each of them, Adelaide convincingly.

All along, the Demons said that if they could rise to that tough challenge at the back end of their season, then it would prove their finals’ credentials. They did just that.

And as such will take a huge chunk of confidence into their qualifying final against Fremantle at Casey Fields on Saturday.

What else will give them enormous confidence is the fact they are ranked #2 in the league for every major statistic differential against their opponent: disposals, contested possessions, uncontested possessions, clearances and inside-50s (whereas Crows are ranked #1 for contested possessions differential, they are ranked #5 in clearances; where Collingwood are ranked #1 for disposal differential, they are #6 for inside-50s).

However, Melbourne have lost inspiring captain Daisy Pearce for at least one week with a knee injury, who’s become a huge presence in the Dees’ forward line in the past few matches.


Tyla Hanks: The small midfielder is having a breakout season averaging career-best disposals (19.1), marks (2.7), tackles (5.1) and inside-50s (2.4) in 2021. Is as contested as she is clean with the ball.

Has there been a better player over the past two seasons than Jasmine Garner? Picture: AFL Photos/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images


A couple of early losses in 2021 (in particular a 20-point loss to Collingwood in Round 4) looked to derail their campaign, but the Kangaroos locked in their finals spot with a thrilling one-point win over premiership-favourites Fremantle last weekend.

They will take every bit of that confidence, grit and fight into their qualifying final against the Magpies, but will be looking to dominate the scoreboard more after they managed to kick only eight points they last time these two sides faced each other.

North have been at the pointy end of every season since their inaugural year in 2019 and have built themselves into a powerhouse thanks to their elite midfielders Emma Kearney, Jasmine Garner, Jenna Bruton and Ashleigh Riddell.

Under new coach Darren Crocker, they might have finished sixth and only just scraped into finals, but it’s the side’s excellent clearance work and contested possession-game that will have their opponents on their toes.


Jasmine Garner: One of the best in the league across two seasons, Garner had a blinder against Carlton in Round 5, kicking a goal and having a 32-disposal game. Her pressure is fierce.

More than 53,000 fans attended the 2019 AFLW grand final between Adelaide and Carlton. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images


Adelaide’s dual premiership winning captain Chelsea Randall wants her side’s preliminary final in a fortnight’s time played at the Adelaide Oval.

The Crows beat Collingwood by 14 points at Norwood Oval on Sunday, and in doing so claimed the 2021 AFLW minor premiership and the right to host the preliminary final on the weekend of April 9.

Adelaide will play the winner of Saturday’s qualifying final between Melbourne and Fremantle at Casey Fields.

Randall said her side had earnt the right to play at the biggest and best stadium in South Australia, having played all five home games at Norwood Oval this season.

“Our AFLW girls deserve to play on Adelaide Oval,” she said after her side’s win over the Magpies.

“Norwood Oval has been an amazing home for us this season, but our girls deserve to be able to play on the best stadium in SA and our fans and our supporters and our members deserve to be in that atmosphere as well.

“I hope that gets across the line and that our girls, especially our young kids, get the opportunity to play on a magnificent ground, our Adelaide Oval.”

Chelsea Randall and Chloe Scheer celebrate a goal against Collingwood. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

It is expected the venues for the AFLW preliminary finals – to be played in Adelaide and Brisbane after the respective sides finished top two – will be announced after Saturday’s two qualifying finals.

Both the Adelaide Oval and Gabba are free on the weekend of April 9, with the Lions’ AFL side playing away that weekend (although there are COVID complications in Queensland) and Port Adelaide facing Richmond on Friday night.

There is precedence for AFLW finals to be played at Adelaide Oval.

In 2019, the Crows romped home by 66 points against Geelong at the venue, before beating Carlton by 45 points in the grand final the following week in front of a record 53,034, justifying the use of the biggest venue in the state.

Tickets for this weekend’s qualifying finals go on sale on Wednesday, and AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan said he was proud to announce a freeze on ticket prices for the first two weeks of finals, keeping them at $10 for adults.

Keeps it alive, follows up, goal. Reward. For. Effort! 👊

But for this weekend’s qualifying finals the AFL has decided to stick to suburban grounds, shunning the larger venues of the MCG and Marvel Stadium.

Melbourne and Fremantle will face off at Casey Fields from 1.05pm (local) on Saturday, April 3, before Collingwood takes on North Melbourne at Victoria Park from 3.10pm (local).

Magpies co-captain Stephanie Chiocci said her side was willing to play on whichever ground.

“Ideally, you want to be playing on the biggest grounds with the biggest capacities, something like the hallowed turf of the MCG, not a lot of our girls would have been fortunate enough to play on there,” she said after Sunday’s loss to the Crows.

“We’ll play wherever we need to play.

“We’ve had some good success at Ikon Park, and Victoria Park, our spiritual home, which will be our home ground advantage which would be unbelievable, but again, wherever it is, we’ll prepare and do the best we can.”

Stephanie Chiocci says the Magpies will player wherever. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

The AFL said about the league’s decision to play the game at suburban grounds: “We are really looking forward to week one of the 2021 NAB AFLW Finals.

“By finishing third and fourth on the ladder respectively, Collingwood and Melbourne have earned the right to host a Final at their home grounds.

“We encourage all supporters to buy tickets and head to the games on Saturday.”

Originally published asAFLW tips: Who makes the prelim finals?

Source: Read Full Article