The AFLW is moving forward with preparations for its third season in 2020 and the horizon offers a rosy picture.
The league has expanded from 10 to 14 clubs for the 2020 AFLW Premiership competition, adding two clubs to Conference A and two to Conference B.
It would seem likely that two more clubs, bringing the total to 16, will gain entry in 2021.
The women have moved beyond training and intra-squad games and into pre-season trial matches.
Over the weekend, Melbourne played a training game with Collingwood and came out on top 38 – 24 at the Olympic Park Oval. The Dees welcomed the return of skipper Daisy Pearce, who had not played since she went on break to have a couple of babies. Twins.
Pearce was also efficient on the ground, although she spent the bulk of her time on ground at half-back, rather than her accustomed midfield position.
Elsewhere, Western Bulldogs beat Geelong Cats at the Whitten Oval by the score of 59 – 47. Geelong took a two-goal lead into the third quarter, as Western Bulldogs seemed to have issues with inaccurate kicking, but the Dogs leveled by the end of the third quarter and kicked four goals to the Cats’ two to come out on top.
At Ikon Park, North Melbourne started quick and held off fast-finishing Carlton Blues for a 51 – 43 win.
The Roos kicked five goals to none for Carlton in the first quarter. Carlton chased, but while they turned things around in the latter stages of the game, spotting the opposition five goals is not the sort of start the club would have preferred.
In the other practice game, St. Kilda beat Gold Coast handily by the score of 46 – 24 at Southport Oval. Both clubs are new for 2020 and while neither are considered premiership chances, the AFLW is a league where a lot of unexpected things can happen.
The growth of the AFLW in all areas is encouraging to the league, but given the way conference play worked last season, it was a bit surprising to find that conference play had been retained for the 2020 AFL season.