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Round Three AFLW Review - All Games Covered

Well, Round Three is in the books, and due to a weekend of trying to do as little as possible in terms of cleaning up and shopping, I was able to cast my eye over EVERY single AFLW game on the weekend.

I suppose it is good in a way, as there were teams I hadn’t watched as yet… and there might be teams I don’t bother watching again given some of their performances. What I did see was a few class units prevail, with some teams just looking a cut above their opponents.

So, let’s start at the very beginning – a very good place to start according to Julie Andrews. Oh, before we do, did you know that Julie Andrews provided the voice of the gigantic monster in the new Aquaman film? Didn’t put her hand up for a cameo in the Mary Poppins sequel, but opted to play a hideous creature who fights with Jason Momoa. You’ve gotta love Julie.

Now… onto a very good place to start.

 

NORTH MELBOURNE V WESTERN BULLDOGS

This was the big test for the Roos – coming up against last year’s premiers, and with their number one player a defect from the Bulldogs, there was a fair bit to prove.

Well, consider it proven.

First off, what a tough little bugger Ellie Blackburn is. She got crunched a few times in this game, but those thighs just kept on pumping. She finished with 14 touches, and I think a couple of those knocks might’ve got to her. She didn’t seem to be as damaging as she has been to this point of the season.

I really liked what I saw from Katie Brennan in the air again this week. She has great hands, and in a comp where double-grabbing can seem like a plague at times, her ability to take the ball cleanly, either overhead or at ground level and look for an option is right up there with the best. That said, I thought her disposal was poor in the first.

Jasmine Garner is one of my favourite players to watch – a forward with a great understanding of the game, at times her deft touches and taps are as good as a possession. She doesn’t just hack it forward and will take her time to find an option. I love the way she uses her body to protect the drop zone, and it paid off for her in the third with a terrific contested grab. Classy player.

I suppose the big story was about Courteney Munn. Four goals is a bag in AFLW, and she did everything right on debut. With 11 touches and four marks, she would definitely be in the coaches votes, but I wanted to single out a few others who were worthy of contention as well.

It might be the best I’ve seen Kaitlyn Ashmore play for the Roos. She ran hard and tackled like a demon. She really looked like she was hunting at times. Maybe a little too aggressive early, she reined it in to hamper the Dogs all evening.

Jenna Bruton – Whilst so much has been made of the Kearney defection, she is +8 in disposals in 2019 and is just as much the North Melbourne engine room as her highly regarded teammate.

The report on Jess Duffin was one of the softest I can remember seeing. Not sure what else she could’ve done to lessen the impact. On Duffin, she really came to the fore in the second quarter. Just reads the play well, and puts herself in the right spot.

North’s ability to hit short targets was evident all night, even when the heat was on early. A score line of 2-1 at quarter time probably didn’t paint a picture many would like to see, but I’m not sure it reflected what was happening. It was a good contest at that point, and only misses from Kearney and Bateman – both very gettable – saved the Dogs from experiencing a decent quarter time deficit.

Ash Utri was pretty good for the Dogs. She was good in the air and provided a get out of jail option for them at times. Mon Conti was another who can hold her high head.

Kate Gillespie-Jones had another nice outing. For mine, she has been in the best every game this season for the Roos. She looks in amazing shape, which I’ve written before, and is just so strong over the ball.

I’d love to see some expanded stats for the women’s games. The app is bloody terrible, and gives you the same kind of stuff you get from the rudimentary local league. Kicks, marks, handballs, tackles – the basics. I know they keep detailed stats for the women’s games… release a decent bloody app! I wanted to see how many clearances Emma Kearney had, as I reckon she really opened them up in the second half.

Anyway, another solid win to the Roos. They look more like a team at the moment than most that have spent three seasons together. The Dogs… well, they’ve got some work to do. They’re in the tough conference, and though I expect they’ll get more from Blackburn next game (when she doesn’t get smashed twice in the first quarter), they might need a lift from Kirsty Lamb. She had 14 touches, but not a huge influence on the game.

 

Next up

CARLTON V GWS

Firstly, congrats Blue-baggers! Great win.

We’ll get to Maddy Prespakis in a minute, but I just want to touch on how hard at it the Blues were as a unit in this one. Darcy Vescio set the tone in the first minute when she completely buried Pepa Randall in a tackle. It was a tone that would come back to haunt Randall again later.

While I am on it, I thought the Vescio-Randall match up was intriguing all game. Vescio has a great "prop and change direction" move when she gets hands on it, and I reckon she beat Randall with it once or twice. She also got her in the air, with an excellent contested grab which led to a goal assist with her feed of Prespakis.

Darcy finished with a couple of goal assists for the game, as she fed Alison Donwie later in the game as well. Best game of the season for Vescio.

Now, let’s talk Prespakis – easily the best player on the park, returning 21 touches and three goals. She was also instrumental in so many Carlton forward thrusts, as she is definitely not afraid to trust her skills and make the inboard kick. That’s something most in the league struggle with currently. Maddy does it with confidence, and pulls it off.

If you’re looking for the player who is going to lead this club into the future, Prespakis has well and truly put her hand up. It was beautiful to see such genuine emotion from her after the game, with tears in her eyes as the Blues claimed their first win of her AFLW career. That’s what you want from your young star – genuine care.

I was a little critical about Tayla Harris’ output in Round One. Well… I’ll shut up now. She attacked every aerial contest with a ferocity few players do in AFLW, and crashed to the turf several times as a result. But it was her ability to smash a pack and take bodies with her, which allowed the Blues to attack at ground level, that made her game special.

Her hip and shoulder on Pepa Randall late in the game will come under a fair amount of scrutiny. Personally, I love that stuff, and I love it when a player lets the opposition know she’s around, but looking at the vision, if she clips her on the chin with her shoulder (and looking at Randall’s head snap back, she may have) then there might be ramifications stemming from that decision.

I read someone questioning Harris’ decision-making, stating that these actions cost her team. She led from the front all day, and was integral in the Carlton win. With three minutes left, maybe she didn’t have to drop Randall. Maybe she could’ve let her off the hook. The game was in the bag, right?

But she doesn’t play that way. You may as well ask a lioness to start eating a vegetarian diet – it ain’t gonna happen. Keep doing what you do, Tayla. How many contested marks did she have? I counted four, but it may well have been more – why change that?

Saw some really good signs from Yvonne Bonner for the Giants. She led the game in marks, and looked dangerous up forward all game. Her snap around the corner from the boundary was one of the best goals of the season to date.

Rebecca Beeson was also amongst the Giants’ best, and runs as hard as anyone in the comp. She was a standout last week, and backed it up with another quality outing here. The way she realised she had a 50 metre penalty, took off, left her direct opponent for dead, and hit Jacinda Barclay for a goal was excellent, and a bit of a preview as to how this rule change will be exploited by intelligent, and quick players.

Excellent third quarter by Katie Loynes. She had only nine touches in the game, and I reckon most of them were in the third.

Really quiet night for both Cora Staunton and Jess Dal Pos – both way down on output as compared to their early season games. Alicia Eva was slightly down as well. Hard to make up ground when your midfield guns are all misfiring.

The soccer goal awarded to Christina Bernardi was definitely NOT a goal, for mine. It seemed really obvious that it came off her thigh as she ran into goal and went off the deck, but with no replay used at AFLW (equality?) how do you challenge that? That said, I’ve been harsh on Bernardi in the past and she more than earned her keep this week.

A solid win to the Blues, with all their stars shining brightly. It’s the first time I’ve seen them look legitimately good in a game, and that’s not being nasty – just a fact. It will be interesting to see if they can string a couple together. They’ve got the shaky Cats next week.

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Grab a Mongrel Bumper Sticker - click the image, grab a sticker and help spread the Mongrel word. We’d really appreciate it.

 

FREMANTLE V COLLINGWOOD

Oh Collingwood… why do you make me watch you play like this?

I loved Fremantle’s ability to transition from defence in this game. Their skills were on point, they run for each other, and they set up beautifully at stoppages to create opportunities for teammates. They’re a well-drilled team, and will take some stopping this season.

The run through the middle from both Stephanie Cain and Hayley Miller was instrumental in early Freo gaols. Cain just burned her opponent off before delivering to Kellie Gibson for the opening goal, and Miller’s run set up Ebony Antonio’s first of the game. Blistering speed to open the game up, both of them.

Loved what I saw from Gemma Houghton – I was surprised to see she had no goals, and no behinds for the evening, because for mine, she was the best forward on the ground all night. Her marking and second efforts were excellent, and though she “only” had ten touches, those eight tackles were so valuable. The couple of goal assists weren’t bad either.

She is an absolute live wire, and looks like a footballer. She knows what to do, and when to do it. It was my first chance to watch her play this season… won’t be the last. At one point she started ten metres behind an opponent, and in a thirty metre sprint, ended up beating her to the ball by five metres. That’s just called wanting it more.

Too many double grabs for the Pies on the night. This is one of those things that looks like it’s catching on a team. One double grabs, and the pressure mounts as they offload to the next player… who does the same. Only two Pies looked as though they were immune to it.

Sarah D’Arcy and Ash Brazill are two excellent pillars for the Pies to build with, but the lack of quality around them, and the amount of talent that packed their bags and left at the end of 2018 has left them battling too many quality opponents with little help.

The Pies looked stagnant at times, compelling teammates to kick to contests whilst the Dockers picked them off and hit short targets all over the place. Not only that, Freo players consistently worked for their teammates, laying shepherds, spreading to ensure they got the best possible option from a defensive 50 exit… the Pies, they just hacked and hoped. They really miss Chloe Molloy.

Is contact below the knees still a thing? In the second quarter I saw two incidents where I am sure it was a free kick and it was called play on. Have they relaxed the rule now? Serious question.

Idiot commentators missed it, but the handball from Ashlee Atkins to set up the Dana Hooker goal was absolutely exquisite – the perfect goal assist, threading the handball through traffic and allowing Hooker the shot at goal. They may have missed that moment of brilliance, Ash – The Mongrel didn’t. Great handball!

Really felt for Stacey Livingstone – her defence was under siege at points, and if not for her, I think they may have been crushed under the weight of the Docker forward thrusts. She battled on and can definitely hold her head high. I heard some give Eb Antonio best on ground, but I didn’t think she actually beat Livingstone for most of the game. Gimme Houghton’s game over Antonio’s.

Kara Donnellan had the most touches on the ground, and is such a hard worker. With some of those runners flanking her, she is the perfect in-and-under leader for that team.

Massive game for the Dockers against the Crows next week. For the Pies… well, they get the struggling Giants. There’s a bit of hope, I guess.

 

ADELAIDE V GEELONG

Putting it out there  - I reckon Adelaide have what it takes to win the flag. Book-ended with Chelsea Randall and Erin Phillips, they have a great blend of marking power, ball-winning ability and run to trouble any team in the game. Can’t wait to see them against the Dockers next week, and the Roos eventually.

Anyway, onto this game.

The Cats looked inexperienced. They were rushed, they were predictable, and they were sloppy, and the Crows ate them alive early.

Phillips was clearly best on ground early, but I’ll say this – she doesn’t need iffy free kicks. She is good enough to win her own ball without being rewarded for in the back decisions that may or may not have been there.

Rivalling what I saw yesterday from Fremantle, the Crows’ ability to handball in close and free up an outside player on the spread is very, very good. They hit targets, have hard runners (Sophie Li, Courtney Cramey and Justine Mules get little in the way of plaudits – I loved their work) and when in a contest, they can rule the air as well.

A huge amount of smothers in this game early. Great desperation by both teams despite one being a cut above in terms of effectiveness.

Excellent game from Jess Foley, who did most of her damage in the air. She reads the play really well and rarely makes a mistake.

Is there such a thing as a quiet 33 touches in an AFLW game? If so, I reckon Eb Marinoff had it today. The best tackler in the game just knocked up getting her hands on the ball, and combined so often with Anne Hatchard that those two must have some sort of deal to look for each other. They combined for 60 touches in a dominant midfield display. Marinoff’s ability to stand in a tackle, get her hands free and feed a teammate was more than just impressive – it was record breakingly good.

Yep, Eb Marinoff is now the record holder for most touches in an AFLW game. Most tackles in an AFLW game, and now most touches as well. Hail to the Queen.

Throw in that the Crows had the absolute luxury of allowing Phillips to run through the centre as well, and you can see why the Cats struggled. Not sure how many clearances Phillips had (great work by the AFLW app not to have these stats) but if we’re looking at win percentage of clearances contested, she’d be right up there.

For Geelong, the two familiar names for me were Phoebe McWilliams and Richelle Cranston. McWilliams couldn’t get into the game early, and took until later in the game to do much. Cranston – a Mongrel favourite – hardly had an inch to move whenever she got her hands on the ball. She finished with 18 touches, but so many, particularly in the first half, were under immense pressure, and not very effective.

It was only late in the game that Cranston was able to dash away from a centre bounce and create opportunity for her Clifford to kick her second. I think, like a good racehorse, she’ll be better for the run.

Is there a better rebound defender than Chelsea Randall? If there was one player on the ground who looked like she may take a screamer, it was her. With her ability to zone off, read the play and hit targets out of defence, she provided a great springboard for the Crows all game, and was as responsible for Sarah Perkins’ first shot at goal… which she should’ve converted.

Meghan McDonald… I like you. You’re a very, very good full back and I love the way you back yourself in when in a contest. Having not watched you in the first game of the season, I have been so impressed with the way you go about it in the last two. I loved the way you beat Perkins in a body to body duel today, but please… please be careful when kicking in. I reckon it’s the only thing that has let you down this season.

From what I’ve seen McDonald would have to be in contention for an AA berth at the moment, right? She has to be in the conversation.

Unluckiest bounce of the day? Chloe Scheer. Waved on to kick for goal by Phillips, she went for home from 45 out toward the end of the first quarter, only to see the ball refuse to roll through, stopping on the line. Nice game for Scheer all up, though.

Great little sidestep by Olivia Purcell to slot her first goal in footy. Classy finish after the confident way she worked her way into the open.

I thought the Cats were a bit stiff in the second quarter, with several decisions going against them that were line ball, at best. The 50 metre penalty awarded to Justine Mules simply wasn’t there. The Cats player was pinged for being in the protected zone, but there was another Crows player right with her. It was a reactionary decision, and I think the ump just got caught up. Sadly, it ended with Phillips marking and kicking her third. Costly…

Didn’t see a lot from Eloise Jones today, but one of her tackles on Cranston… wow. Almost as good as the tackle Sarah Perkins laid on the wing in the third. That was a bone-rattler.

Overall, the Cats were not disgraced. It certainly looked as though we may see a record score at one point, but they scrapped it out and scored a few second half goals. Losing Nina Morrison is obviously a huge blow (look at the way Prespakis is influencing Carlton) but with the Blues up next, they’re looking at a make or break Round Four game.

The Crows get their big test next week. The Dockers will give them all they can handle, and they’ll need to be on-song to walk away with a win over the undefeated Freo, and put themselves right in the mix for top two in the stupid conference system.

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Look! Mongrel Punt Stubby Holders. Buy one and be cooler than all your friends! It also helps the site out.

 

MELBOURNE V BRISBANE

Sabrina Frederick-Traub… file this game away in the memory bank. You were comprehensively beaten at all stages by Harriet Cordner today. Not just beaten – humbled. I know the kicking to you wasn’t great. I know that the boundary line was not your friend, but every time you had a one-on-one with Cordner, you were soundly beaten. One of the commentators tried to say you were flying against 2-3 opponents all day.

Nup. It was mainly just one.

Three votes – H Cordner.

Here’s a lesson for opponents of Melbourne – don’t allow Aliesha Newman to get goal side of you. The girl has wheels and will leave you in her dust.

And that’s what she did today. 19 touches and 3.1… she’d be very stiff not to be awarded best on ground, but I can’t go past Cordner.

But then you have the work of Karen Paxman and Lauren Pearce to factor in as well… the Dees had winners all over the park. Pearce would be staking a real claim on the AA ruck spot. The way she was able to pluck the ball out of the air today, the way she was able to drift back in the hole when the game was there to be won… she was fantastic. Her tap over the head to Paxman early in the third quarter was brilliant.

Then you have Tyla Hanks, who helped set the tone with clean hands and great delivery by foot, and Kate Hore, who looked like a dangerous mid-sized forward every time the Dees went into attack, and you have a team that oozes talent. Daisy Pearce may be about to have twins, but this Melbourne team is doing fine without her.

The Lions struggled to do much under the weight of the Melbourne pressure. For mine, only Ali Anderson was able to withstand the pressure, win her own ball and not look overawed by the situation.

Even when the Lions got a bit of run, the Dees were disciplined enough to halt their advance. The tackle of Chantelle Emondson to hold up the Brisbane attacking foray in the second quarter was indicative of the regimented defensive mindset of the group. Meanwhile, at the other end, the Lions’ defence leaked goals.

A 40 point half time lead meant the game was over, and the glorified junk time second half saw the Dees on cruise control to steer home a 39 point win.

Eden Zanker is one who caught my eye. She just seems different to the others in the way she goes about it – unorthodox, I suppose is the word. Not that I think this is the best comparison, but James Morrissey was an unorthodox player, but he still managed to get the job done, usually in ways no one else could. She finished with a goal on a good, quick thinking snap, and bobbed up here and there to have an impact. I think she is a definite x-factor in this Melbourne side.

Maybe the only other Lion whose game I enjoyed was Katie Lutkins. 15 touches and five tackles in a team so comprehensively beaten… she was good value.

 

And so, as I actually watched all five games this weekend, I feel a little more qualified than usual to do something like this. Here’s The Mongrel’s top five impact players of Round Three.

 

NUMBER FIVE – GEMMA HOUGHTON (Fre)

The best forward of the week who didn’t kick a goal.

NUMBER FOUR – EBONY MARINOFF (Adel)

A quiet 33 record-breaking touches. Beast!

NUMBER THREE – ERIN PHILLIPS (Adel)

The most dangerous player in the game. Can do it all.

NUMBER TWO – MADDY PRESPAKIS (Carl)

The future is here. Now.

NUMBER ONE – HARRIET CORDNER (Melb)

Supreme in defence. Unbeaten all day. The legacy lives on…

 

 

 

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