Women's Footy

SANFL Now Roundtable – Hostplus SANFLW League Finals

Captains gather ahead of the Hostplus SANFLW League Finals series. (L to R) Sam Franson (Glenelg), Stephanie Simmonds (Norwood), Shelby Smith (Central), Sophie Armitstead (Norwood), Jordann Hickey (South Adelaide). Picture - David Mariuz

With the Hostplus SANFLW League finals starting on Saturday, we have gone to the experts that cover the league each week, SANFL NOW Commentators Chris Kendall, Chris Kerry, Phil Aspinall and Phil Herden, to get their thoughts.


SANFL NOW will bring you exclusive coverage of the SANFLW Semi Final Double Header from Flinders University Stadium at Noarlunga on Saturday.

Chris Kendall and Eagles Head Coach Narelle Smith will broadcast from 11.55am the Second Semi Final between South Adelaide and Glenelg. The winner will go straight into the 8th Hostplus SANFLW Grand Final on Saturday July 6.

Then from 2.20pm Phil Aspinall and Chris Kerry will commentate the sudden death First Semi Final between Central District and Norwood.

For more SANFLW information you can click here for Phil Herden’s SANFLW Stats Report and here for the 2024 SANFLW Season Stats Guide.

How do you see the Hostplus SANFLW League finals playing out?

  Chris Kendall – I’m expecting South to go straight through to the Grand Final and play Central District to replicate the 2023 decider. Their depth, versatility, plethora of attacking options and the league’s dominant ruck in Soriah Moon will be incredibly hard to stop.

 Chris Kerry – Much like the season, topsy tervy, plenty of upsets and close games going right down to the wire with a historic finish as I predict we’ll have someone from outside the top 2 win the flag for the first time. Norwood to stun South in a thriller!

 Phil Aspinall – There appears to be a real resolve from South Adelaide to make amends for their heartbreaking defeat from last season at the hands of Central District.

The Tigers have a tendency to rely on a couple of stars to get the job done while the Lady Legs have struggled to have an impact in the major round in more recent seasons.

At their best, the Reigning Premiers, Central, play a quality brand of football capable of going back-to-back, but Rick Watts’ Panthers are in the box seat to claim their third women’s Premiership.

South Adelaide to defeat Glenelg by 22 points in Second Semi Final

Central District to defeat Norwood by 7 points in First Semi Final

 Phil Herden –It is South Adelaide’s to lose. I expect the Panthers to take care of Glenelg in the Second Semi Final then be rested and ready for whoever emerges from the Prelim Final. Similarly placed last year they fell just seconds short in 2023, they will make amends on July 6.

As for their Grand Final opponent, that is a lot more open. From the SANFL NOW games I have commentated, Norwood impressed me the most, especially the defence they applied in their two wins against the Panthers. Central certainly can score but finals are about defence, and I am really not sure which Tigers are going to show up, the “Good Glenelg” could cause havoc.

What does each team need to do to claim the SANFLW premiership?

Chris Kendall –

South:  Maintain the same pressure, belief and ability to switch game plans as quickly as the team has all season. The premiership is theirs to lose and the fire from the 2023 decider is still burning deep within at Noarlunga.

Glenelg: Unlock the key as to why things fell away so dramatically in the last four weeks of the season. three of their four losses were in this period, with an alarming drop from their best.

Central District: Have learned from the two heavy defeats at the hands of South Adelaide in the minor round, and reflect on their second half against Glenelg in round 12 to replicate the hard running, free flowing football they will need to take on the opposition at their own game.

Norwood: Find another level with scoring. While third in the league in attack, the Redlegs will need to add other options in the forward 50 apart from Kiana Lee and Adrienne Davies to reduce its predictability and open up others to take their chance.

Chris Kerry –

South – Stick to their guns. Best defence in the comp, second ranked offence, superstar ruck, expect them to lock it in there forward half, suffocate the opposition and try to score heavy with Lucy Northcott, and Emily Brockhurst in form plus Esther Schirmer, Jaslynne Smith & Sam Pratt hard to beat in defence.

Glenelg – With pressure and territory they are one of the best tackling sides and dominant in the middle. Expect the Tigers to try and get and go from stopages with the likes of Jess Bates, Alex Pearce, Jo Miller & Violet Patterson applying the pressure and taking on the game. Eloise Mackereth & Jorja Eldridge provide dangerous forward targets with Marie Martino & Alex Walker impressive defensively.

Centrals – Break the lines & take it on. I expect them to bring a run kick mark style with dangerous runners Sophie Eaton, Laitiah Huynh and Caitlen Teague to take the game on. The Doggies forward have massive threats with Georgia McKee, Tessa Doumanis, and Katelyn Rosenzweig, That’s plenty of tall options to spread their opponents.

Norwood – Similar to their opponents on Saturday, the Redlegs want to run and carry and have the weapons to do so with Tesharna Maher, Tahlita Buethke and Shai Hiscock, Being one of the most accurate sides look for Davies & Lee to have plenty of opportunities to add scoreboard pressure. They will also need their strong defensive unit to perform.

 Phil Aspinall –

Bringing their A game on the day will be key for each team to progress through and claim the 2024 SANFLW Premiership.

South are on the back of their six game winning streak, just need to keep playing the team-orientated game that has brought them their success so far this year.

Glenelg have the lowest scores for amongst all of the finals participants this season and will need to find more avenues to goal in order to take it up South Adelaide.

Central will need to tighten up in their back half, having conceded the second most points against this season. The balance between attack and defence needs to improve.

Norwood need to play to their strengths and continue to get the ball into the hands of their play makers who have an impact around the football and particularly inside attacking fifty.

Phil Herden –

  South – Avoid Norwood, the only side they have really struggled against. Otherwise, defence is elite, and forwards have found recent mojo. They just need to keep on doing what they have been doing for the full four quarters.

 Glenelg – I am not sure they can, at least on recent form which includes big losses to Central & South plus a draw against Norwood. No team gets as many clearances or forward opportunities but converting them into a scoring shot let alone a goal are the worst of the four finalists. Tidy this up and maybe they can put up a competitive score.

 Central District – Find some defence. No team scores as much as the Bulldogs but they allow almost as much down the other end. Or can Katelyn Rosenzweig who has kicked 25.25 this season deliver a big bag of finals goals and with it back to back flags.

 Norwood – Win the close one. The last two seasons Norwood have lost 11 games in the minor round by a total of 44 points, an average loss of 4 points each game. The margins have been 2, 5, 2, 2, 6, 2, 5, 4, 9, 5, & 2 points. The last two seasons in games decided by nine points or less the Redlegs are 6-11-1.

Who will place in the top 3 of the SANFLW Best and Fairest and why?

Chris Kendall –

1st Jess Bates (Glenelg): Her dominance will be nearly impossible for the umpires to miss. Registered less than 27 disposals only once all season and her creativity and usage has been a major key to the Tigers finishing 2nd.

 2nd Nikki Nield (South Adelaide): Returned to South Adelaide after a fantastic AFLW career and stepped straight back in to lead a dominant Panthers midfield. Rarely wastes a possession, and worth noting how often she is right around the stoppages, with umpires noting her work: 39-19 free kick count demonstrates her work is noticed.

3rd Katelyn Rosenzweig (Central District): While Shelby Smith should poll well at Elizabeth, Rosenzweig’s season has been a major factor for the Dogs maintaining their position. Registering 50 scoring shots this season, as well as averaging 12.4 disposals and 4.4 marks, it’s hard to see some of her matches missing votes.

Chris Kerry –

Despite missing the end of the minor round I expect Jess Bates (Glenelg) to win comfortably.

Second to be Nikki Nield (South)

And third to be between Zoe Venning (West) & Shelby Smith (Central)

I also expect India Rasheed (Sturt) to be up there as well

Phil Aspinall –

1st Jessica Bates (Glenelg) – Despite missing a few games through injury, the proven vote getter, and former winner back in 2022, continues to dominate the Tigers midfielder and has been a tackling machine again in season 2024. Bates will be hard to beat in what would be her second SANFLW Best & Fairest Award

2nd Nikki Nield (South) – Former AFLW Premiership player Nikki Nield has been a picture of consistency through the Panthers midfield, featuring amongst South’s best players in 9 of their 14 minor round games. Her toughness and ball winning abilities should see Nield feature prominently amongst the voting.

3rd Jade Halfpenny (Norwood) – The former Port AFLW listed player has had a very consistent season for the Lady Legs, averaging 17 disposals and 4 marks a game. The daughter of former men’s player Warren displayed great flexibility this season to feature amongst the best players in 6 games.

Phil Herden –

  1st Jessica Bates (Glenelg) holds the SANFLW record for most votes in a single Best & Fairest award with 22 in her 2022 victory. I predict she will break this mark by the end of Round 10 if not earlier. In becoming the first multi SANFLW Best & Fairest winner she should also break the league record for biggest margin of victory which is 6 votes back in 2017. She was league leader in possessions, kicks, tackles and clearances, most of those categories by a significant margin.

  2nd Zoe Venning (West) is a persistent high possession getter and last year collected 17 of the Bloods 35 total votes, finishing second to Piper Window. I expect something similar in votes and position in 2024.

  3rd Nikki Nield (South) already has a stellar SANFLW resume, including playing for Norwood in the first ever SANFLW game, winning two premierships with South in 2018 & 2019 plus winning the Powerade Breakthrough Player award in 2018. Despite this she is yet to finish in the top five of a SANFLW Best & Fairest count. They will change here after a stellar return to the Panthers in 2024.

What has been your highlight of the Hostplus SANFLW League season?

Phil Aspinall – Seeing the SANFLW girls head across to the other side of the country and defeat WA in their inaugural SANFLW State clash was fantastic for the profile of women’s footy in SA.

With the extended season and time on added for goals this year, it has also been great to see more goals being kicked across the competition and the standard going up another level.

Personally, it was great to see the extremely talented young Bulldog Georgia McKee return to league ranks, following an ACL injury, kicking four goals following an absence of over 700 days.

 Chris Kendall – Watching the new generation of SANFLW talent emerge. As the competition moves into its 8th season, we are now seeing the benefit of players who have spent their entire competitive sporting career in Australian Rules, with a corresponding lift in skills, attacking and team play reflecting through all teams. The slight downside is a very busy AFLW draft period looms as many younger players move to the next level.

 Chris Kerry – Being able to call Jess Edwards (North) kick the winning goal v Glenelg in her 50th SANFLW game. A special moment for a special player.

 Phil Herden – Hard to go past the league and eight clubs combining to produce an outstanding effort as the inaugural SANFLW state team headed west in May and downed WAFLW by 16 points.

Creating state success from scratch would have been quite a challenge and the result is a credit to all involved. Next year, let’s do it at home or bring on the Vics!

Contributor Background

Chris Kendall is a long time broadcaster enjoying his 20th season calling SANFL. He was firstly the statistician then play by play and boundary rider for ABC TV. A SANFL Media Award winner he has also commentated the league on 5RPH, LifeFM, ABC 891,and SEN SA prior to joining SANFL Now.

 Chris Kerry is looking forward to calling his first SANFLW finals game on Saturday having been a broadcaster for SANFL NOW over three seasons. He has also commentated NBL1 basketball after playing amateur league footy for a decade.

Phil Aspinall is a familiar voice within the SANFL broadcasting fraternity, covering his 16th season across both the men’s and women’s competition. Starting with community stations LifeFM and 5RPH, Phil has progressed through the ranks and roles, claiming four SANFL Media Awards along the way.

Phil Herden started commentating sport in 1987 and SANFL games in 2001. A SANFL and Australian Sports Commission Media Award winner he has produced four SANFL Season Guides, his weekly SANFL Stats Reports are in their 24th season and he also compiled the 109 page 2024 SANFLW Season Stats Guide.

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