by Kyle Champion
Last year two teams swept through the VFLW competition like a force of nature, Collingwood and NT Thunder.
Unfortunately, both teams fell short in the finals, but during the home and away season they were the teams to beat.
When these clubs first met, it was Collingwood who claimed the victory over NT Thunder at TIO Stadium. Their second encounter had Thunder return the favour by beating the Magpies in their home of Victoria Park.
This Saturday, their rivalry will continue at Victoria Park in what should be an epic contest.
Thunder star Jordann Hickey has returned to NT after a stint of playing for the Gold Coast Suns in the AFLW winter series.
Hickey was delisted by Melbourne’s AFLW team but was quickly signed by the Suns soon after. Hickey is thrilled with her new position at Gold Coast, but now she is now focused on playing for Thunder.
“It’s a very exciting time being a part of the first ever Gold Coast team,” Hickey said. We played in the Winter series which was great, but now I’m focused on Thunder and this weekend.”
Hickey has played in both matches against Collingwood and knows the type of contest the Magpies will bring.
“They were a tough side last year,” she said. “They’re well organised and very tough at the contest. We just have to play to our strengths to beat them. We beat them last year, and we can do it again.”
Last year Collingwood was a very different side. A lot has changed for them in 2019, including new leadership.
Former Magpie VFLW skipper Jessica Edwards was drafted to Carlton’s AFLW side in 2018. Edwards will remain at Carlton for the rest of the VFLW 2019 season.
It wasn’t until Round 2 that Collingwood announced that Ruby Schleicher and Grace Buchan would co-captain the 2019 season.
Buchan was a solid contributor for the VFLW Magpies inaugural season as she proved to be one of the better wingers in the competition. She finished ninth in their best and fairest awards.
Schleicher has become an occult hero for AFLW Magpies. Her experience at AFLW level, size, and speed make her a tough matchup for forwards. Last week she kept AFLW Geelong star Maddie Boyd goalless.
The Pies may also get an extra boost of talent this week with the return of Chloe Molloy. Molloy is back to near full strength after a Lisfranc injury kept her sidelined for the entire AFLW 2019 season.
Even though the Magpies champion could return, Jordann Hickey is confident that any of her teammates can shut Molloy down.
“I believe most of our girls can handle her,” Hickey said. “She can play forward or midfield, but any Thunder girl in her vicinity will definitely pay her some attention. Tayla Thorn might be a good choice if she plays forward. Tayla’s quite good in our defensive half. She is the glue that holds our backline together, and she’s just a solid player in general.”
This weekend the Thunder team will be coached by the senior assistant, Ricky Nolan as Heidi Thompson is called away with Under 18 NT Thunder Academy duties.
Nolan, an experienced coach in his own right, led the women to a convincing Round 1 victory in cold Melbourne conditions and will be looking to do the same.
Thunder enjoyed a rest week during the bye and with AFLW stars based in Adelaide returning, plus only a few injuries for the squad it’s yet to be seen whether the winning formula will be kept or if the coaching panel will change things up for this away trip.
VFLW Round 4: NT Thunder vs Collingwood – 2:00pm Saturday 1 June, Victoria Park, Melbourne