Sport AFL Venue switches likely as AFL Women’s matches keep pulling crowds
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Venue switches likely as AFL Women’s matches keep pulling crowds

AFL Women bULLDOGS fREMANTLE
The fans love it as Bulldog Kirsten McLeod celebrates the first goal in the match against Fremantle.
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The AFL will consider shifting matches in its new women’s league to larger venues after another day of impressive crowds for the fledgling AFLW.

Crowds of about 10,000 attended matches in Melbourne and Adelaide on Saturday, following on from the 25,000 full house for the opening match between Carlton and Collingwood on Friday evening.

Collingwood is scheduled to host another three games at its Olympic Park oval, including a clash against Melbourne next Saturday night.

But AFL game development manager Simon Lethlean said the league would consider shifting that game to Princes Park as part of a double-header after Carlton’s clash with Greater Western Sydney.

“We don’t want to have a game at Olympic Park if it’s going to be locking people out and unsafe so we’ll have a look at that,” Lethlean said.

“Collingwood were quite relaxed about this game. They’re quite relaxed about next week. It’s not about a home environment for them — if they can get 15,000 people, they’ll want to, so they’ll do whatever we suggest is best.”

Meanwhile the AFLW continues to benefit from the recruitment of players from other sports, with cricketer Emma Kearney impressing in the Western Bulldogs’ 32-point win  over Fremantle, and Australian basketball Erin Phillips starring with three goals in Adelaide’s six-goal win over Greater Western Sydney.

Kearney gathered a game-high 21 disposals as the Bulldogs surged home for a 6.8 (44) to 1.6 (12) victory before a crowd of 10,100 at Whitten Oval on Saturday night.

An allrounder with the Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash League, Kearney’s explosive pace and clever ball use were a highlight for the Bulldogs.

Marquee picks Katie Brennan (15 touches, two goals) and Ellie Blackburn were also impressive and showed Bulldogs will be a team to beat in the inaugural competition.

Fremantle captain Kara Donnellan (13 touches, six tackles) and Belinda Smith (16 disposals) impressed for the visitors.

In Adelaide, Phillips and Chelsea Randall led the Crows to a 7.6 (48) to 1.6 (12) drubbing of the Giants in front of 9,289 fans at Thebarton Oval.

Adelaide AFL Women Crows Giants Erin Phillips
Adelaide’s Erin Phillips celebrates one go her three goals.

Backing up the brilliance of Darcy Vescio and Carlton in the season opener on Friday, Phillips booted three goals and finished with 14 disposals.

Her goal haul could have been more if not for a couple of missed shots, but the former WNBA player – whose father Greg played for Collingwood and Port Adelaide – was thrilled to return to her first passion.

“I never thought this was going to happen in my lifetime,” the 31-year-old told Fox Sports.

Randall was also excellent, kicking a goal and adding 16 disposals, which was second only to teammate Ebony Marinoff’s 20 for the match.

“It’s an awesome day. It’s a dream come true,” Randall said.

The Giants almost went goalless through the match before Phoebe McWilliams broke the drought with a set shot on the angle midway through the final quarter.

The Crows-Giants clash was played in a good spirit but there were a few flashpoints, even once the game was beyond reach for the Giants.

“We knew it was going to be hard, fast, tough footy and that’s what we’ve been training for,” an emotional Marinoff said.

– with ABC, AAP

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