Where and when: Fremantle Oval, Sunday January 31, 4:10pm EDT/1:10pm WST
Last time they met: The GIANTS and Dockers haven’t faced each other for over two years, after not being drawn to play each other during the 2020 or 2019 seasons. The last time these two teams met was in round five, 2018 when the GIANTS beat the Dockers 39-21 at Fremantle Oval. Courtney Gum, Ellie Brush and Erin McKinnon starred that day.
TV and online: All AFLW matches are available live on Foxtel, Kayo, the AFLW Online site, AFL Telstra TV App and on the AFLW and AFL Official Apps. GIANTS matches are also broadcast live into NSW and the ACT free-to-air on 7mate.
What it means for the GIANTS: Round one is always the first opportunity to get a gauge of where teams are at for the new season, particularly after the 2020 season was cut short due to the pandemic. The GIANTS are coming off a heartbreaking final-minute loss to the Demons in their first finals appearance that preceded the competition being cancelled. We recruited young, but experienced, defender Katherine Smith from the Demons who is still coming back from an ACL injury suffered last year. The bulk of the GIANTS’ list is settled but we welcomed some new faces through the draft including young Canberra duo Tarni Evans and Emily Pease and experienced local defender Libby Graham. Gaelic star Bríd Stack joined the club from Cork in Ireland - but unfortunately suffered a serious neck injury in the club’s practice match - while former basketball and mum-of-two Erin Todd came in as a replacement player for Irishwoman Yvonne Bonner, who was unable to come to Australia for this season. The only recent exposed form was that practice match against the Adelaide Crows a fortnight ago, which the GIANTS lost by 20 points. It’s worth noting the GIANTS had been in transit for more than 30 hours in the lead-up to the game and only arrived in Adelaide late the evening before. Speaking of travel: the GIANTS broke from pre-season training on December 18 as a coronavirus cluster broke out in Sydney, with the team coming back together in Albury in southern NSW on January 1. They’ve been on the road since and relocated to Adelaide - via a stopover in Canberra - two weeks ago. Lou Stephenson is the only player not to join the hub, with work commitments with NSW Fire and Rescue in Sydney.
Where’s the opposition at? It’s fair to say the Dockers dominated the 2020 AFLW season and would have been bitterly disappointed that the competition was cancelled. Fremantle were undefeated in the six games of the regular season that were played last year and they topped Conference B with 24 points. After six rounds the competition moved immediately to finals, where the Dockers demolished the new Gold Coast Suns side, 80-10. They were in ominous form and had Kiara Bowers and Gemma Houghton named in the AFLW All Australian team. The Dockers took on cross-town rivals the West Coast Eagles in a practice match two weeks ago, coming from four goals down to win by 10 points. Skilful with the ball and ruthless in their attack without it, the Dockers set a new standard for the AFLW in 2020 and head into the 2021 season as premiership favourites.
The number: 34. The number 34 will be printed on the top of the back of the GIANTS’ jumpers for the 2021 season and beyond as the club remembers Jacinda Barclay, who passed away in October. It’s been a tough period for the GIANTS’ AFLW team, losing a much loved teammate and beloved member of the GIANTS family. Along with the number 34 on the playing jumpers and staff apparel, both teams will come together for a minute’s silence ahead of Sunday’s match and players and staff will wear black armbands.
In the mix: The GIANTS have six uncapped players on their list and at least a handful are in line for their first taste of AFLW action this week. Draftees Tarni Evans, Emily Pease and Libby Graham have all slotted in seamlessly and played in the practice match a fortnight ago. Erin Todd also impressed, even with her limited football experience, while Georgia Garnett is yet to make her debut coming into her second season on the list. We’ll have to wait a little longer to see Irishwoman Bríd Stack - who will spend the next few weeks in a neck brace - while Katherine Smith, who is looking to make her GIANTS debut after three seasons at the Demons, is also still recovering from injury.
Tarni Evans and Erin Todd have been named in the round one team.
The first-round match will welcome the first two debutants of the 2021 season with draftee Tarni Evans and former WNBL player Erin Todd getting the nod to pull on the orange and charcoal for the first time.
18-year-old Evans was drafted at pick nine from the Queanbeyan Tigers. The former endurance athlete moved to Canberra from the South Coast of NSW in 2017 to play in a pathway competition for more exposure and opportunity.
At the other end of the spectrum, 34-year-old Todd only took up the sport a few years ago, with her skills and experience in elite sport enabling an easy transition into her new sport at this level.
Defender Louise Stephenson and ruck Jess Allan are both unavailable for the round one match due to the current border restrictions in place. Stephenson is currently based in Sydney for her work with NSW Fire and Rescue while Allan is in Canberra for ADFA commitments.
The round one clash will also mark the first official competition match since the passing of inaugural GIANT Jacinda Barclay. A series of tributes have been put in place to honour the former GIANT, and forever number 34 including a minute’s silence prior to the match.
It was a scene mirrored at AFLW matches across the country, with opposing sides circling the centre square to commemorate the life and sporting career of the 29-year-old whose family described her as a "shining comet".
Fremantle kicked away from a brave GIANTS side to win by 30.
Fremantle has launched the new season as it finished a dominant 2020, kicking away from a brave GIANTS side to win by 30 points on an afternoon of mixed emotions at Fremantle Oval. The final game of the opening round started with a tribute to inaugural AFLW GIANT Jacinda Barclay, who passed last year. It was also played in the final hours before a five-day lockdown starts in Western Australia because of COVID-19 precautions.
The GIANTS were competitive in a hard-fought opening half, but they couldn't go with Fremantle after the main break, with star forward Gemma Houghton kicking three goals to spearhead the 8.10 (58) to 4.4 (28) win. The Dockers booted three unanswered goals in the third quarter in a ruthless burst of high-speed football, continuing their winning run after an undefeated 2020 season and showing they will be a force again.
Midfield ace Alyce Parker was immense for the GIANTS, finishing with 29 disposals and seven clearances in a brilliant performance under significant opposition heat. Parker's game in the midfield was sensational, finishing with a game-high 18 contested possessions from her 29 touches as well as seven clearances, also a game-high. She was a thorn in the Dockers' side in the first half but was forced into the defensive half in the third quarter as the Dockers made their move. One of the stars of the competition and a club champion at just 19, she should be even better in her third AFLW season.
After a week full of uncertainty, the GIANTS have named their 21-player team to take on the Adelaide Crows on Sunday at Blacktown International SportsPark.
Key defender Lou Stephenson, midfielder Britt Tully and ruck Jess Allan have all been added to the team for Sunday’s much-anticipated contest against the Crows. Stephenson and Allan returned to training with the group this week in Sydney, after work and study commitments meant they couldn’t be with the team in the Adelaide hub. Britt Tully was declared fully fit by medical staff during the week following knee surgery during the off-season. Defender Annalyse Lister will sit out Sunday’s game following a concussion sustained in last Sunday’s round one match against the Dockers.
GIANTS v Adelaide Crows
Sunday, February 7 at 5:10pm EDT
Blacktown International SportsPark
Clinical Crows flex their muscles with dominant win over GIANTS.
Adelaide's resurgence in 2021 is quickly gathering momentum, with the two-time premiers going 2-0 with a controlled 47-point win against the GIANTS at Blacktown International SportsPark on Sunday. After launching the season with a 38-point win against West Coast, the Crows led from start to finish to beat the GIANTS 9.8 (62) to 2.3 (15) in the inaugural AFLW Pride Round.
The clearances were the GIANTS' one area of obvious strength early, with GIANTS star Alyce Parker (27 disposals, including a game-high 16 contested) a standout at the coalface, giving her team a 17-8 clearance advantage in the first half.