AFLW Round Six Mongrel Reviews

It really is a case of the “haves” and the “have nots” in AFLW at the moment, with the top sides leaving no doubt that they’re here to play and those in the bottom half really feeling the heat as we enter the home stretch.

Without further ado, here we go with the weekly Mongrel Punt game reviews.






I’ve been seeing the Tigers building something special over the past few weeks – admirable efforts against both Collingwood and Carlton before finally breaking through for their first win ever in the AFLW – albeit against a hapless Geelong team.

The reward for your first win? A match against North Melbourne, and at a rude timeslot at 5:10 on a Friday nonetheless.

After two losses on the trot, North got back on the winners list last week at the expense of a Carlton team sans Maddy Prespakis. To be honest, it doesn’t matter who it was and what players they had, North needed a win last week to stay in touch and get some momentum back, because another loss and the season was just a split second away of going into freefall.

And that need translated into some good form this week. They did get some good fortune when the news broke through that Richmond’s best player in Monique Conti was a late withdrawal in this contest. The way she generates all of Richmond’s moves with the footy cannot be underestimated and it took a lot of pressure off of others around her.

As a result, North had the game wrapped up by half time. The Tigers worked hard to find themselves within three kicks in the second half, but North responded promptly ahead of their big clash next weekend against the Western Bulldogs.



Kicking against the breeze in the opening term, North Melbourne had a plan to execute – win the footy at the source and play keepings off. And they did it.

With a bit of wind blowing around at Punt Road, it wasn’t meant to be easy, but the way North’s players did it, you wouldn’t have thought that there was any wind at all, or any pressure from the opposition. Those familiar with the footy expression of ‘slow play’ will be familiar with the way that North were trying to move the footy in the opening term.

Usually when a side plays it slow, they look a step off the pace, but the fact that North were hitting their targets suggests that they were only biding their time to strike. I could insert some kind of Animal Planet or Discovery Channel reference here, but I won’t. I’m sure you get the picture. Once they found a player forward of centre, it was more of a hell for leather approach and it worked when they got three goals on the board.

But the proof is in the pudding from their first quarter stats: 53-16 in uncontested possessions and they took 29 uncontested marks. It’s a large testament to North outworking Richmond on the spread once the ball was worked out from the source.

It’s also worth mentioning here that Kaitlyn Ashmore’s work on the outside was A-grade here, recording 19 disposals and seven marks, could’ve had a goal or two next to her name too and it would’ve been worthy of best on ground.

Between her and Brisbane’s Sophie Conway, there aren’t any players who work the wing position better in the AFLW and the reason why is because they don’t get sucked in to the contest – both hold the line really well and in the case of Ashmore, proved to be such a vital link in the chain often on Friday evening.



What the late omission of Conti does is also provide Ellie McKenzie a chance to really assert herself as a mainstay in the middle for – hopefully – the remainder of the season.

She’s been worth every word of hype the number one draft pick brings to a player in season 2021. Playing primarily across the half forward line, she brought something that the Richmond side had seriously lacked over the past year – some cohesion forward of centre. The team does look a lot better when she’s bringing the footy inside Richmond’s attacking 50.

But the Tigers needed something to cover the loss of Conti. They also moved Katie Brennan from her natural post as a forward in this one and with the exception of a handful of moments, it failed to come off. Not sure if Ryan Fitzgerald watched any of their games last year, but Brennan played a lot of time as a midfield during the 2020 season and that didn’t come off too well there, either.

But this is about McKenzie’s game. She was the only midfielder that could’ve held her head up high in the first half, recording eight disposals and finished with the 16. Could’ve really done with some extra help from the likes of Maddy Brancatisano and Sarah Hosking, because McKenzie was trying to do everything and at times, it was a pleasure to watch and at other stages, it looked like the odds were way too overwhelming, because North guernseys were surrounding her.

But it was hard to fault her efforts on a night where the Tigers were comprehensively beaten. I’d love to see her play more in the middle, but she might go back to the half-forward line next week, for the betterment of the team.



That’s a lyrical reference from the rock band Styx for anyone who was wondering what that subheading was about.

There’ll be plenty of players at North that should get their recognition: Ash Riddell was sensational around the stoppages and possessed plenty of class anytime she was found waltzing out of a stoppage, Jasmine Garner was doing Jasmine Garner things, Emma King was very prominent in the first half and Daisy Bateman had a beauty of a game playing forward.

But one player that caught my eye a lot was the Irishwoman in Aileen Gilroy. I could’ve actually put in the timeless Dexy’s Midnight Runners song of ‘Come on Eileen’ as the subheading, but that’s too easy. Sorry, I’m sidetracking hard here.

When I watched North lose to the Pies a few weeks ago, I made mention of how she managed to keep Chloe Molloy honest around the ground. There’s no questioning her running ability, but her ability to run and create with the footy was enormous in this one. She had 17 touches, with 14 of them being kicks, and also took five marks, highlighting that she was one of many that was helping North controlling the footy.

But when it was time to go, Gilroy was off like a light, and there weren’t many Tigers’ players that could catch her, nor were willing to catch her. Also, we need to make mention of that kick off a step that travelled well over 50 metres, almost 60. I reckon a lot of people would’ve gone absolutely crazy if that went through the right side of the big stick, but it was only just a minor score.



So I’ve mentioned Gilroy’s game already, but I feel like the others that run North’s defensive 50 don’t get enough love nor recognition for mine. so I feel like it’s warranted to give them their dues. Having seven more intercept possessions doesn’t reflect on much but given that the Roos completely denied Richmond to play the game on their terms and barely got past their own defensive half. The way North’s defenders set up is akin to that of fellow elites.

Danielle Hardiman was a big out for North a few weeks ago against Melbourne and you can tell that the team plays better when she’s in that defensive five. Played predominantly on Sabrina Frederick and kept her pretty quiet. Does that job on the key forwards pretty well most weeks.

Between both Jasmine Grierson and Tahlia Randall, the pair combined for 15 marks and 23 disposals. Both play that intercept role, really well and more impressively is the fact that they can use the ball by foot really efficiently. Randall can play the shutdown role well too, but I feel like she’s at her best when she’s picking off forward entries.

Perhaps the most underrated of the lot is Nicole Bresnehan. At times when I watch her play, I do ask the question of ‘What does she bring to this team?’ She’s a smaller-size as a defender, but if this season has shown me anything, is that she can be a really good two-way defender. She holds her position well when the ball is inside North’s attacking 50 and she doesn’t need to get 15 touches to make an impact – she did well both on the offensive and on the defensive in this one.



Christina Bernardi has been a maligned player of sorts the past year.

I think back to the 2018 season, when she was still at Collingwood and the way she went about her footy was just brilliant. Got into the right positions a lot as a forward and was often reliable in front of goal. She was rewarded with a spot in the All-Australian team that season. Since then, she’s been at two different clubs and has really struggled for form.

In her one and only season at the Giants, she had moments, but she was a victim of circumstance and struggled in a Giants team that lacked cohesion forward of centre. Her first year at the Tigers last year, she wasn’t fairing any better in a side that just didn’t have anything going for their forwards. It got to the point that she found herself playing at VFLW level the past few weeks. She needed it, because for what she was brought in for, she has failed thus far.

But this was a renaissance game of sorts for Bernardi in this one. Yes it took her until half time, but when the Tigers really struggled to get their hands on the footy, what more could she have done?

When the third term was played on the Tigers’ terms, Bernardi was playing a lot more dangerous, perhaps as dangerous as that 2018 season, when she was at the Pies. Her leads were strong, her pressure was at a rate I hadn’t seen in years and most importantly, she was hitting the scoreboard and getting herself involved in a few of the scoring chains.

She lowered the eyes to set up Tayla Stahl for her goal in the third term, she used her body well to win the footy in the last quarter and set up Brennan for her goal and managed to kick two herself. It was exactly what she was brought in the side to do, and I’ll doubt she’ll be the one that makes way for Conti, when she comes back in the side next week.



She’s had a few quiet ones over the past few weeks, but it was a back-to-form game from Ellie Gavalas, recording the 19 disposals and trying to push the ball forward at every opportunity.

Tayla Stahl had a nice third term, got involved a fair bit, kicking a goal and setting up Wakefield with her first and only major of the evening as well.

Congratulations to Georgia Hammond for her first game and also her first goal in the AFLW. Didn’t get a lot of the footy, but given that she worked extremely hard to get here, just seeing her get her first major and seeing her team mates swamp her afterwards is pleasant.

On the other hand though, very disappointed with Bec Miller. Been a strong performer for most of the year, but conceded a few sloppy free kicks, including the one that led to Hammond kicking her first goal.

Whilst on some Tigers that could’ve done better: Sarah Dargan needs to be better than four disposals and a tackle, Hannah Burchell had a few moments that she’d like back and Kodi Jacques just the five disposals – not quite sure what her role is within the team.

Harriet Cordner continuing to press her claims for a spot in that rolling AA team this week. Particularly during the first half, she prevented the margin going beyond 40 points. Sarah D’Arcy had a strong start too, but tapered off as the game progressed.

I really liked Mia King digging in for the contested ball all throughout this game. There were quite a few times that she got the footy out of the contest and it led to a scoring opportunity. She finished with 14 disposals, three marks and three tackles in one of her best performances this season.

Tessa Lavey only had the seven touches, but looked really composed with the footy whenever she had it. Which is very impressive considering that she hasn’t played much footy at all. She just looks like she’s been playing it for years.

Jenna Bruton spending more time the wing was looking as prominent as Ashmore was at stages, finished with 18 disposals and seven marks, but also the four tackles as she came into centre bounces in certain moments.

And lastly, I thought whilst her counterpart Emma King was enormous in the ruck, I don’t think Gab Seymour should be too discouraged with her game: still did a bit to work around the ground and her defensive efforts were quite decent as well, laying three tackles.


BRISBANE 7. 13. (55) DEFEATED GWS 2. 5. (15)



As we get to the pointy end of the season, the class of the league starts to emerge. After handing Fremantle their first defeat of the season, Brisbane deserved to go into the game as hot favourites against a GWS side that seems to be lacking a little bit of depth in comparison to the top sides.

GWS seem stifled in their game plan all day, and tried very had to get their long kicking style working for them, but with Parker held well once again by Svarc, and with Brisbane looking to put a bit of fear into the other contenders, the Lions proved far too strong for GWS at their Canberran home.



I am an enormous fan of Alyce Parker. Her ability to get the hard ball on the inside, work through traffic and become a playmaker once she creates some space is just fantastic to watch. She has a trademark method of fending off with authority that intimidates some of the other players out of trying to tackle her in the upper body.

Unfortunately, one player who was not intimidated is Catherine Svarc. Last time they met, she kept Parker to just 11 touches. While she got a little looser this time with 16, she was well short of her usual impact. It’s fantastic for the game that we’re getting to see these sorts of personal rivalries emerge.

Parker is a classy player though, so just to make sure she was kept under the hammer, there seemed to be a deliberate plan to gang-tackle her with every opportunity. Several times she seemed to get just beyond Svarc’s reach, only for one or two other Lions players to leave their player while Parker was gathering the ball and slamming into her just as she looks up. It looked like classic WWE tag team moves, Parker would escape one hold only to run into a body spear from the top turnbuckle.

Having said all that, Parker had a decent game by the common standard, just not the game breaking one that she’s capable of and has shown so often. I’d still give the match up win slightly to Svarc though, just because Parker has shown so hard to handle in other games.

The football purist in me is disappointed that we didn’t get to see Parker in full flight in this match, but the country footy lad in me loves a good shut down role, especially when it’s supported well. A tagger who has added support is ten times more impactful, and this is exactly how it should be done. My only disappointment is that Svarc seemed to play with a fairly straight bat, not resorting to the niggle as some of the best taggers do. Maybe she could practise pinching over the rest of the week.



Allen and McKinnon were solid for GWS but predictable. Allen did mix up her leaping style to tap on her left or right, but both her and McKinnon seemed to simply aim to tap slightly forward on the forehand. Brisbane had this well scouted, and would box out Parker so that she was too far forward or behind the ball to take possession.

While a ruck’s influence is a bit of a topic of debate, having a backup plan when you’re getting beaten in centre clearances is a fair option. GWS won the around the ground clearances on -paper, a lot of those seemed to go to a contest or worse, be intercepted.

The disconnect between the ruck and the mids didn’t seem so wide for Brisbane, who seemed content to allow the ball to drop where GWS wanted, and then converge on that spot immediately.

I’d like to see a few more back taps or even long punches from Allen and McKinnon, just to keep Brisbane guessing, but it looked like GWS stuck to a gameplan that Brisbane had long adapted to. It’s hard to say whether it was a case of sticking to what they knew or just being unable to improvise, but it’s also possible that with Parker under such pressure, they turned to Alicia Eva to take up the role of playmaker, but her role is usually to be the link when she has space, not as an in and under ball-winner. She managed to get a bit of the ball, but it was mostly through intercepts in the back half rather than pushing up the ground.



Just dominant. Davidson and Wardlaw are two different types of forwards. Davidson seems to like the bustle and body, using her strength to get front position and take strong contested marks while Wardlaw plays an agile tall type of lead up forward. The fact they can both work inside the same 50 without getting in each other’s way is a credit to them both, as well as the forward structure that they’ve drilled.

Davidson seems to love a strong tackle too, monstering her opponent if she gets to the ball first. Forward pressure is always important, but it’s even more effective when the forward can make the defender fearful when they do actually manage to read the ball better.

Their small brigade looked menacing too, with Dawes coming off the bench to chip in for a couple of nice goals, as well as putting on some brilliant forward pressure with her speed.

What seemed so dangerous about the Brisbane team though, was the fact that they moved forward with such keen understanding between their mids and the forward line. It seemed that they knew where to kick the ball before the forward had even gone on the lead. Maybe they were drawing the forwards to the space or maybe they just clicked and understand each other. Either way, it looks like a solid transition game that other teams will be trying to copy.



If you didn’t watch the game, you may be forgiven for looking at the 23-6 free kick difference and wondering if GWS were whistled out of it. While they did seem to get a bit of the rub o the green in come cases, they were mostly first to the ball and rewarded for that effort.

There were a couple given to Brisbane for hard or slinged tackles that didn’t seem to be called the other way, but no more than that, and definitely not enough to justify going into half time goalless for GWS.

While it’s fair to say the umpiring is never perfect, it wasn’t as much of an impact as the free kick count might suggest.



GWS missed the running movement of Parker, and their main ball winners seemed unable to push it out of half back, often finding themselves kicking under pressure into a wall of Brisbane defenders.

Brisbane on the other hand managed to find lots of space. The stats sheet shows 10 bounces to nil in Brisbane’s favour, but it could have been more if Brisbane wanted to run the ball a bit more. Their each-way running was as good as any team in the league, and watching the game live it looked like there wasn’t a single player unwilling to gut run to match up or become an option.

It may not make the highlight reel, but it’ll make the coaches box very happy to see that.



While 38 points is a comfortable win in anyone’s books, some ambitious snaps and a few poor set shots were all that let GWS go into the last quarter with any hope at all. It could easily have been a ten goal loss with a little more polish.

What was well buffed though was the forward pressure. Brisbane did have a little more than double GWS’ inside 50 count, winning that area 48-19, but a large part of that was their forwards willingness to put a body on the defender, who would often struggle to break out of the wall that Brisbane had built up just beyond the arc. It’s hard to make a smart disposal when you’re getting tossed around like a yoga ball in the back of a panel van on a country road, and even more so when Brisbane showed such a willingness to tackle hard in their attacking zones. 23 tackles in their forward 50 to 3 for GWS shows just how far apart these teams really are in terms of mentality.



GWS head to Moorabbin to take on the Saints. With both teams having a 2-4 record, a loss here removes any remote hope of playing finals. It should be a good match regardless though, with GWS well served by a quality midfield that seems a little too much for St Kilda.

Match of the round though will be Brisbane vs Collingwood. Both teams look to be hitting solid form at the right time, and while each will be trying to avoid too much heavy contact, there will be more than a few willing to try and set the standard for when they meet in the finals series. Brisbane may not have the star power, but their evenness may give us a bit of an upset win and deliver Collingwood their first loss for the season.



ADELAIDE 13. 7. (85) DEFEATED GOLD COAST 1. 5. (11)



The Crows came out and gave St Kilda a walloping last week in what appeared to be a game of women v girls and followed that up with a comprehensive dismantling of the Gold Coast Suns in a systematic pulverisation.

Despite some marquee matches that looked as though they would provide some genuine highlights, it was Adelaide as a complete unit that stifled the Suns and went about recording one of the most dominant wins in AFLW history.

Let’s start with a few of the matchups before moving onto some other pertinent bits of information.



Our resident AFLW expert, The Doc, has had Pregelj as a mainstay in his Rolling AFLW Team from early in the piece. Taking the big job here, she had the chance to cement her place with a win against the best player the competition has seen. How did she go?

Firstly, we have to take into consideration the sheer volume of inside fifties the Crows had. A 41-19 advantage gives a very good indication just how much pressure the back five were for the Suns, but Pregelj held her own through the first quarter. As a matter of fact, you’d look at the best players on the park after the first stanza and you probably wouldn’t think to include Phillips amongst them.

But it’s hard to keep a good woman down.

After Phillips slotted her second goal, we saw a graphic of what was considered a quiet night for the champ – 13 touches, six marks and two goals as a 75-25 forward/mid split. With over a quarter to go, there are players that would kill for those numbers.

She finished with 19 touches and seven marks to go along with her two goals, but what really puts her performance over the top is her ability to create. She stands in tackles, takes the footy cleanly, and has great vision to set up a teammate for an easy goal (Danielle Ponter and Anne Hatchard both owe Erin coffees for her direct goal assists).

I know I am not saying anything that has not already been said. I know nothing in here is revelatory hy any stretch of the imagination, but watching Erin Phillips play chess whilst her opponents play checkers is a thing of beauty, and my favourite moment of this game was her one handed contested grab that led to a goal. What a pleasure to watch.



They did not play exclusively on each other, but the two ball-magnets spent periods of the first half engaged in a battle in the middle. Drennan finished up leading the game in disposals, but was she better on the day?

Let’s explore.

Firstly, Drennan was fighting an uphill battle, particularly after the unfortunate injury to Jamie Stanton saw her stretchered off the ground. She fought on well, but I thought the quality of her disposals were impacted by the relentless Adelaide pressure, which caused her to throw the footy on her boot a little too often.

On the other hand, Hatchard was her regular, imposing self, knocking players over and muscling her way into contests she really had no right being in. She finished with 21 touches and seven tackles to Drennan’s 29 and seven.

What I did like from Hatchard was her willingness to push hard forward to provide a marking target inside 50. Though only finishing with one goal, her presence as an attacking option may give the slight edge in a very close battle.



It didn’t last too long, with Ahrens having to switch between Randall, Phillips and the resting Anne Hatchard, but of all the clashes out there, this one had me most keen to dissect.

We basically got it for a quarter before Matthew Clarke rotated his team a little to keep the Suns on their toes, but Ahrens v Randall could have been a belter.

Instead, we saw Randall kick a goal off the deck, Ahrens adopt her regular intercept role, although she did try to move further up the ground, and we saw Randall drift back down to defence at times as well.

As such, we had a potential clash matchup fizzle before it had the chance to get started. Maybe next time?



Watch out for Erin Phillips… watch out for Erin… watch out… damn, Pinter has kicked another one.

Danielle Ponter kicked half of her 2021 season tally in this game, registering four goals and leading Elizabeth Keaney a bit of a dance.

Ponter’s footy background has been covered in depth, with her family history lined with stars of this game, and as she consistently moved to the right spots in this one, you could see that footy runs in her veins. She wasn’t that far away from a bag of five or six, with an opportunity out the back going begging late in the piece, but her overall goal sense and ability to work into the clear at the right moment gave her fellow forwards and running mids an excellent target inside fifty.

With Stevie Lee Thompson playing more off half back this season, the opportunity to be a little more prominent at ground level is one cherry ripe for Ponter, and with her hitting the scoreboard, the Crows look every bit like a potential Grand Finalist again.



There are a lot of players that could look at the game of Rachelle Martin and learn a thing or two. In a league where “one and done” is sometimes seen as acceptable (particularly by commentators, who really annoy me when they patronise players), the repeated efforts to pressure by Rachelle Martin really stood out.

And it wasn’t just that all she could do was apply pressure – her hands at ground level were excellent and she was always on the lookout for the hand-off to a player running by in the open.

When the Crows dropped the hammer on the Suns in the second half, much of it was on the back of the work of Martin, who continually threw herself into the contest. With the absence of Eloise Jones, who usually does this kind of thing, Martin elevated her game. She finished with seven tackles to go with her 13 touches and a goal in an excellent performance.



So, they were pummeled, but was there any positive takeaways for Gold Coast? Of course there were – if you focus on the doom and gloom and that alone, you’ll always find it.

Kate Surman was mighty in the middle, earning every one of her 22 touches.

The work of Laura Single is getting better and better. Her 12 touches and four tackles don’t tell the story of what we’re seeing from her – a young girl standing up to play against seasoned stars. She was excellent off half back early before trying her hand in the middle.

It seems as though David Lake had seen enough of Kalinda Howarth running three-quarter pace last week and decided to throw her into the action. It was a good move. Howarth was prominent early, playing largely off a wing as she collected 18 touches for the game. Still a little eager to bang the footy on her boot without looking, the Suns could use her creativity when she gets the ball in space, and if she is permitted to drift forward whilst maintaining this role, things could start looking up for the Suns.

Finally, Tori Groves-Little, complete with tea-cosy headgear, was one of the few Suns to truly take the game on. She attacked the footy hard, followed up her own work and her work ethic should be used as an example for the rest of the Suns team as to what the standard should be at the club. Uncompromising and unafraid, she was one of the Suns’ best.



Stevie-Lee Thompson’s run from defence and poise with the footy were a key component for the Crows in this one.

She picked up 17 touches as she provided vital run and carry through the middle of the ground, both drawing attention to her, and offering silver service to her half forwards. There is a touch of the Andrew McLeods about SLT in the way she has the confidence to grab the footy, have a bounce and get forward whenever she can. I know it’s high praise, but the way she slices through the middle, you can definitely see it.



Nikki Gore appeared land very awkwardly on her left ankle in the first minutes, and played no further part in the contest. On replay, it was a savage twist, with the ankle getting caught under her as she fell. Looked nasty.

Jamie Stanton was stretchered off and had the dreaded green whistle handed to her to handle the pain, which always makes me think it is something a little more serious than a sprain. Fingers crossed for her, but I am expecting the worst.

And then we saw Hannah Button pop a shoulder in an attempted tackle. Not sure if she has a history of them, but that one will cost several weeks.



I kind of feel bad that I have not mentioned the work of some of the unsung Adelaide heroes in this one. Chloe Scheer was bumptious and bustly (I stole that line from Hairy McLary) whilst Eb Marinoff continued to provide grunt from the middle in what was another top-tier performance.

Actually, whilst on Marinoff, her two field kicks in the first quarter down the near wing were exquisite. I think she cops a bit for her disposal, but those two were picture perfect.

Sarah Allan was resolute in defence and too often gets overlooked in reviews when her positioning is absolutely first class. Was she beaten at all in this game? I cannot remember it if she was.

And Deni Varnhagen made a welcome return to the side to combine beautifully with Ang Foley.


And that’s that for one of the biggest wins in the history of the league. A comprehensive whacking, the likes we have not witnessed since Jebediah Springfield allegedly gave it to those dirty snakes all those years ago (fact check – this is disputed!).  It was a statement from the Crows that they are ready to contend again in 2021 and a harsh lesson for the Suns that they have a ways to go, yet.



MELBOURNE 9. 12. (66) DEFEATED ST KILDA 3. 4. (22)



Both clubs entered this game in a precarious position. St. Kilda had been looking to surpass their win tally from last season and potentially threaten for a top six spot.

Melbourne looked on shaky ground following two successive defeats to the Bulldogs and Magpies, particularly in the manner they lost to the Pies. They needed to steady with a win against an opponent they had to beat, especially given their run newly confirmed run-home from hell.

Saints fans can look away now as this game was all Melbourne’s.

The Demons absolutely harassed, hustled, bustled, and downright bullied the Saints into submission. Melbourne came to this game with a tenacity that the Saints just couldn’t match. Every time a St. Kilda player gathered a loose ball, they were outnumbered. I would’ve forgiven Peta Searle for sending the runner out to call for a head count at some stages.

However, with all that in mind, St. Kilda was absolutely still in this game at half time, and really could’ve been closer, after they rallied to contest a rather even second quarter. But alas, the Demons would put the match beyond doubt with a blistering ten minutes in the third quarter.



The Demons had lacked any sort of scoring power for a few weeks, so what do you do? Throw Daisy Pearce forward of course, and boy did she deliver.

Pearce had an immediate impact up forward playing a critical role in almost every Demons foray forward in the first half. Very funny how putting your best players closer to goal can help with putting a score on the board. Pearce’s impact was profound as she straightened up the Demons ball movement and gave them a solid contest that they could bank on to at least bring the ball to ground. She finished with two goals  but really could’ve had a lot more (and some more goal assists) had she and her teammates been more accurate.



And the award goes to… T. Hanks, for her clinical performance. Tyla Hanks formed part of a pretty formidable quartet with Karen Paxman, Lauren Pearce, and Eden Zanker. The four of them provided the support for Daisy Pearce and combined several times during chains of possession.

Hanks was everywhere in the first half. You couldn’t miss Paxman on the footy field if you tried, she just has an aura about her, a swagger that comes with knowing that you’re better than the person you are lined up against. She looks like she enjoys any form of contact and relishes the hard footy.

I feel this was Lauren Pearce’s best game for the season. She definitely needs to clean up her skills a touch, but what ruck doesn’t? Leading the disposals at three-quarter time before slowing down in the last quarter, she was a serious presence around the ground and provided a solid option coming out of defence on a very consistent basis.

Zanker looked incredibly lively and really dangerous. She has such great hands as well, and by that, I mean her handballing. She doesn’t seem to waste a handball. Whether finding a teammate in space or on the move, or even just general space where she can run onto the ball herself. I’m in awe of the ability. Combine that with the ability to roost the footy a fair way and with some deadly accuracy as well, and she has the tools to tear a game apart very quickly.



Despite the final score line, the Saints definitely had some standout performers who worked their way into this game.


A lack of supply for large portions of the game, but the output of Shierlaw was solid. She managed to get space on the lead a few times but her teammates simply failed to hit her. To her credit, she didn’t seem to be disheartened for more than a moment each time before refocusing on the task.

Also putting their good foot forward were Rosie Dillon, Georgia Patrikios, Tamara Lucas-Rodd, and Hannah Priest. For me though, the standout was Dillon. I just really enjoyed her determination to pressure anything she could. Her spoiling and tackling were first class.


CARLTON 10. 4. (64) DEFEATED GEELONG 4. 7. (31)



Geelong showed a bit of improvement in this match, but it was not quite enough to put concern in the minds of a Carlton team that many feel has underachieved so far this season. The Blues welcomed back Maddy Prespakis from suspension, a player they sorely missed in their loss to North Melbourne last week, and seemed to have an answer for everything.

Geelong on the other hand lost one of their most influential mids in Purcell in the game against Richmond, and definitely missed her presence in this match.



Carlton have had lots of slow starts this season, and this game was a little better, scoring four majors late in the opening term. They had some nice clean disposal, but their forward movement seemed a bit too relaxed early on, especially when they would frequently pick out Geelong defender Meg McDonald in their forward 50.

Geelong kicked the first, which may have had a few Blues supporters mildly concerned, yet comforted that turning up late is classic Carlton. They’re like that friend who always says they are “five minutes away” when you call them, but you’re certain you can hear the shower going in the background.

It took until five minutes before quarter time for Carlton to get their first major with Vescio getting some space goal-side and putting on a trademark burst of speed to convert. A minute later she got her second in similar circumstances. It’s a very brave defender who gives her any space near goal, and while playing in front is likely exactly what Geelong wanted to do, it worked to Vescio’s advantage for most of the day.

Two more goals before quarter time on either side of the Cat’s second goal made the score line much more comfortable for Carlton, but they need to look at why they take so long to switch on. Maybe switch up the pre-game playlist to something a bit more up-tempo. Throw something loud and heavy in there (as long as it’s not Eddie McGuire). Their starts seem like they’re playing Adele on loop. Except Vescio. If someone told me she was the front woman for a metal band at a dive bar, I’d believe them, no questions.



High flying star forward Tayla Harris was rested for this match, possibly as a result of the head knock she had in the last match or perhaps just an example of how lightly Carlton were taking this Geelong side. It’s never a good idea to get too complacent in professional sport, but let’s be honest here, the current Geelong squad is playing a gutsy style of footy, but lacks enough polish that you can get away with a bit of arrogance at the selection table.

Mimi Hill filled the full Forward role and looked a little uncomfortable, but that is something to be expected of someone in only their sixth game. Unfortunately, an apparent knee injury early in the 4th quarter may see her sidelined for quite some time, potentially ending her season if the current trend of ACL injuries claims another victim.

Vescio seemed to love the added space to move though, and Geelong just did not have the pace to go with her, especially with Prepsakis, Egan and Gee putting the ball right into her path. She also contributed 6 score involvements to her teammates, showing just how versatile a player she is.

This was the first time Carlton cleared 10 goals in a match since round 3 in 2019. It was also Geelong’s top score for the season, though wasteful shots in front of goal could have seen an even higher standard set.

Harris will likely come back next week, but it may calm some of the nerves in the Carlton faithful to know that they can put on a winning score without her, even if it is against one of the lower-ranked teams for this season.



Amy McDonald has enormous potential. Her work rate and ability to get the ball inside is up there with any midfielder in the league, especially as she was playing side by side on the superstar Prespakis for a lot of the match. She has a natural ability to weave, balk and spin through traffic, and a carnivorous hunger for tackling, leading all comers with 11 in this match. She also had some really nice delivery by hand to running players, something she was struggling to do in the last couple of weeks.

That kicking style though…

Every kick she delivers is from a two handed drop that she has to watch right to the boot. She drops her head down for a heartbeat and tries to guess where she wants to kick it. It’s one of the reasons why she went at 50% disposal efficiency in this match, and has resulted in many more turnovers than the stat sheet suggests.

While Prespakis was best afield, McDonald kept up with her in most areas except actually finding a target, which is frustrating for someone with such an innate ability to gain possession. Geelong need her to clean up that kicking for them to move off the bottom of the ladder. While they’re working on her in the off season, maybe work on kicking on her left too. If she can get even a 10-15% increase in her disposal efficiency, she’ll be matching some of the best in the league, and making Geelong a much more dangerous side.

Is she capable of reworking her style? I’m going to say she is. If golfers can rework their swing and tennis players can rework their serve, if Amy puts enough time into it, I can’t see any reason that she couldn’t move up in class by next year, and this Geelong side will be a whole different beast if that can happen. I really, really want to see it.



Prespakis was sorely missed in the game against North. It’s hard to say how impactful her suspension was, but I think it’s fair to say that North’s coaching box was much more comfortable playing against a desperate Blues team without her.

When Prespakis came off holding her elbow in the first quarter, you could almost hear the slaps to the forehead of Blues supporters, but a bit of strapping saw her come back on the field and make an impact all over the ground, seemingly at will. It’s almost cruel that Maddy has this level of composure and class considering her birth year starts with a 2.

There is very little Maddy cannot do. Inside, outside, though traffic, runs hard, kicks long, makes every possible contest a legitimate chance for her team… if you could have a dozen of her in your side not even Tom Waterhouse could lose money betting on you.

Breanne Moody has a great partnership with Maddy, frequently giving her silver service in the ruck contests, tapping into the space she was moving into. Prespakis is a fantastic talent, but with this level of understanding between the two, each of them make the other look good.

I honestly have no idea how Prespakis can improve, but at her age she is the type of player you build a side around. If she can add a bit of on-field leadership to her resume Carlton may even be able to get out of the barrier a bit quicker, rather than chasing down sides while they get up to speed. If that happens, the Blues will match up with any side in the league without fear.



I knowthe two leagues are very different in many ways. While the women’s league is still emerging, one clear advantage they have was apparent this week.

When the lads take a set shot, so often you see them tuck the mouthguard into the shorts or the socks. Now, I’m not the most precious of people, but sweaty footy socks or jocks aren’t really the flavour you want in a mouthguard. Several times this weekend, I’ve noticed the AFLW players tucking it into their shoulder strap, into I’m assuming a sports bra or similar.

Considering how many of the men seem to wear a similar garment to house a tracker, I’m at a loss to explain why they continue to tuck it into an area adjacent to a stanky foot or sweaty bollocks. Then again, I’m not sure how taking a mouthguard out helps goalkicking accuracy, but forwards do love their routine and rituals.



Carlton will have their season on the line against Fremantle at Ikon park. They’ll need every bit of home ground advantage to take on the Dockers side that is a keen premiership contender. Bowers and Prespakis lining up on each other is a highlight for any footy fan though, and while Freo will likely be a bit too strong in the rebound game for Carlton, the Blues will have their chances in this match and should not be taken lightly.

Geelong head to WA to take on the Eagles. They’ll be looking for a chance to get their first win of the season, but may have to wait for a final round spoonbowl game against Gold Coast for that particular milestone. The home ground advantage and a slight edge in contributions from more players will see them home, though it’ll be scrappy enough that both sides will have a chance at it.





It was a match that was billed as a ‘Game of the Round’ and to be honest, you certainly wouldn’t find any arguments from this reviewer – there was a lot of David vs Goliath about this contest.

Collingwood were the Goliath: currently remain the only unbeaten team so far in the AFLW and were looking for six wins on the trot. They also possess one of – if not the best – midfields in the comp. The Bulldogs were the David: Previously the battlers, but had won four games in a row up to this point, including two massive boilovers against Melbourne and Carlton. You’d be hard pressed to find many people that had them pencilled in for four wins this season at the start of the year – I certainly didn’t.

This match was only going to happen one of two ways: Either the Pies run away with the win, or the Bulldogs find another way to cause an upset against a top tier team and win another close one. As much as I wanted the latter to happen, we unfortunately got the former, which was probably the more likely of the two anyway.

Right now, the Pies are seemingly on a different level, and are setting the benchmark right now in the AFLW in terms of playing quality footy. You can make a case for Fremantle always, and Brisbane as well, who will play the Pies next week in what should be a very massive box-office showdown.

But in the meantime, let’s talk about this game and what happened for both clubs.



That first half showed that it is possible to stop the way Collingwood like to play the game and how they control the ball around the ground. I’ve covered a few Collingwood games this season and a lot has been said about their ability to break clear from the congestion and use it well after the ball is won out of stoppages.

Well, the Dogs stifled their ball movement a lot in the opening half, they forced the Pies to play the wings a lot more and they applied a lot of pressure, forcing them to kick it forward without much thinking. Yes, they got a lot of scoring opportunities, and the fact that the scoreline read 0.7 at half time had a lot of vibes from when the Dogs played Melbourne a few weeks back, but a lot of Collingwood’s shots on goals were either shots on tight angles or shots that were rushed onto the boot.

There will be a bit more about the Pies’ opening the game up in the third term further down the piece, but the key for the sides such as Fremantle, Brisbane and Adelaide heading into the finals, curtailing their offensive run and carry is going to be so critical.

Whilst they were +35 in uncontested ball up to half time, the Bulldogs laid 24 tackles to Collingwood’s 27 and the contested possession count was at an even 43-apiece, the scoreboard was reflective of a game that had a lot of moments where it was just extremely difficult for both sides to get a clean possession.

The Dogs were up for the fight and I thought they did very well to contain the Pies, but they showed in this game that they are just not there yet to combat with the big girls across all four quarters. And with North Melbourne in Tasmania and Adelaide at Norwood Oval in the next fortnight, an unlikely spot for Finals hinges on these two games.



I called for this in this week’s episode of the A3 Footy Podcast. The question was raised by my co-host Alex Catalano about who would get the job on Chloe Molloy this week, after an impressive three goal performance on Melbourne. Eleanor Brown was the one I wanted to see, because I think in terms of pace, she had Molloy covered step for step.

I think back to last year, when these two teams met in Morwell, where Molloy had torn Izzy Huntington to bits in the opening quarter, kicking two goals. The change was made afterwards to put Brown on her and kept her pretty quiet after quarter time.

I’ve enjoyed battles within battles in the AFLW this season, and this is probably one of the best I’ve seen. Molloy kicked the two goals – one of them came from a free kick that stemmed from a quick play that had Brown on the back foot, that was probably one of the only times she actually got beat.

The other came from just a great play from the pocket. Brown pressured her, kept Molloy in front of her and didn’t allow her to run past at any stage. It was just a great snap on the pocket that Brown couldn’t really do much else about. If she committed to tackling Molloy, the chances of her slipping past would’ve been at a maximum and enhancing the scoring chances even greater.

Brown held her well in the opening half, winning a few crucial free kicks on the wing early to let her know that she was going to have company all game long. Molloy ended up with the 12 touches, but, apart from the third term, I thought Brown did a superb job in keeping her honest throughout the contest.



Well, I don’t really want to talk about this, but it’s probably worth mentioning because this is where the Pies got on top and where the Bulldogs, as a collective, faltered.

It was almost as if the switch flicked after Molloy got the Pies on the board with their first goal, the proverbial avalanche ensued, and the Pies just absolutely dominated possession of the footy. They were getting on top, their ability to win the footy on the spread on full display and were absolutely pumping it inside 50 with monotonous regularity – I think the inside 50 count of 18-1 in the third quarter speaks for itself.

But just so you understand how dominant the Pies were in this quarter, they were +12 in the contested ball after being deadlocked at half time, +44 in overall disposals and won all the centre clearances in that term.

Bri Davey had 11 of her 28 disposals in the third quarter alone. She had a pretty solid game up to half time anyway, but the way she stood tall in the congestion, you just knew that her teammates in the middle were walking a little taller as well. Brittany Bonnici was let off the leash a little bit, not that she didn’t need to lift either, but her work rate was much more evident at stages in the third term, particularly once Collingwood were starting to get a good run going.

It’s also worth mentioning that a lot of the Bulldogs’ possessions, whenever they even got it to the middle of Victoria Park, was a just a lot of unforced turnovers and garbage disposal that didn’t have a lot of thought put into it. Most of those kicks ended up in the arms of a Collingwood defender, most likely one of Stacey Livingstone, Ruby Schleicher or Lauren Butler – you could’ve raffled it at times.

To paraphrase something that is said in many team-oriented sports and certainly something I’ve said in the men’s footy, this third term was the term that separated the girls from the women.



There wasn’t much to take out of this game from a Bulldogs perspective. Way too many of the key players were down on impact.

Ellie Blackburn and Kirsty Lamb both tried hard. Blackburn had the 18 disposals, tried to do her best as always to will and push the side forward, but a few times she coughed up the footy a fair bit. But still, it was another blue-collar effort from Ellie, you just know what you’re going to get from her weekly and it would’ve been a hard task this week.

Kirsty Lamb was also prominent, both in winning contested ball and defensively adding pressure whenever the opposition had her hands on the footy. 16 touches, 11 kicks, six marks and seven tackles outlined the sort of game she played today. Much like the captain, Lamb was working tirelessly to provide links in the chain anytime the Dogs were setting up a foray forward.

Much the same with Brooke Lochland, who picked up 13 disposals for her troubles, she got instantly caught at times, but ran really well to cover the ground and win the footy and just provide an outlet at times – she also finished with four marks and four tackles for the day.

The last player to get a mention here is Ashleigh Guest. She’s forging together a really strong season on the back of reading the play so well. I wish I got a reading of how many intercept possessions she had in this one, but I think I counted at least eight off the top of my head. She finished with 16 disposals for the match, and took five marks as well, I’d wager most of those being intercepts as well.



In her short career so far, this was the best I’ve seen from Tarni Brown, and the scary thing is her career is only six games old – 15 disposals, four marks and kicked a ripping goal in the final quarter. She covers ground so well.

Thought Celine Moody in the ruck showed plenty of craft in her battles against Sharni Norder. Yes, Norder won more of the footy and kicked a goal for her troubles, but it was Moody who won the hitout battle 17-12 and had a few that went to advantage.

Jess Fitzgerald had a quiet opening half, but started to get more involved as the game was basically decided. Not her best game. I also thought Georgostathis’ pressure dropped off a fair bit after half time as well.

Lauren Butler needs to be mentioned for shutting Izzy Huntington out of the game completely. She’s starting to get recognized a fair bit for her development over the past year, but her performance in this one needs to be talked about more – kept Huntington to just the one mark.

Whilst talking about shutting Dogs out of the game, I thought the tandem of Sophie Casey and Alana Porter did a superb job in keeping Kirsten McLeod to just two disposals and virtually unsighted all game long.

Interesting to see Hannah Scott moved forward in the final quarter as some sort of decoy to try and either make Livingstone accountable or just seriously give her a belt across the chops for her trouble. Would’ve been good to see that change in the third term but it’s one of those things that you’re either damned if you do or damned if you don’t.

I thought Sophie Alexander’s game was really strong, had Katie Lynch for company for most of the day and I thought got the better of her as the game went on – took a number of strong grabs and led really well, stiff to finish with two behinds.

Really liked Abbi Moloney on debut. I thought her attack on the footy aerially was impressive and finished with two kicks, two goals. Oh, and in case you didn’t know from the 100 times Jason Bennett told you on Channel 7, her old man used to play for Footscray!

Whilst on debutants, Issy Pritchard did some nice things on debut with her six touches, started getting involved a little more as the game progressed, laid some nice tackles too – will only do her good in the long run.

And one last Pie worth mentioning, probably hasn’t had a lot of love this season, but I thought Mikala Cann’s efforts throughout the game, both as a winger and as a forward, were terrific. There’s not much of her, but she’s just so committed to a contest, it’s wonderful to see.








Over the past few weeks, we have been treated to a few beltings in AFLW. Absolute thrashings that have created a divide between the contenders and those in the league strictly to make up numbers.

However, last week, we had some tables turned, with Fremantle upset for the first time in a the better part of a couple of years, and West Coast somehow pulling out a win against an inaccurate Gold Coast. Could it be the time the AFLW was turned on its head again, with the Eagles taking it up to the dominant Dockers?

No… no, it wasn’t the time. In fact, if we are using timepieces to gauge these teams, the Dockers were like a Swiss watch, created using ingenuity and skill. The Eagles were like someone looking up at the sun and guessing approximately what time it might be. One was precision. The other was guesswork.

And that is where we pick up coverage of the Dockers mauling of the Eagles.



I watched with interest the opening stages of the game. For a little while there it appeared as though Mikayla Bowen was going to run with Kiara Bowers. It didn’t eventuate, and it is probably lucky for Bowen that it didn’t.

Don’t get me wrong, Bowen will develop into a very good running player over the next three or so years, but Bowers is at her peak right now, and when they stood near each other, it was like an adult playing against a child. Bowers has countless hours in the gym, working her backside off to be in the best possible shape. Bowen is a couple of years into her career. Physically, there is simply no way she can match up. Understandably so.

And so it was all over the field – the battle-tested Dockers landing on the shores of West Coast, pillaging and plundering as the Eagles ran around like panicked villagers, being cut down by a Dockers team eager to atone for their loss against Brisbane. So thorough was the beating that the Eagles failed to register one mark inside their attacking fifty. The Dockers, meanwhile, clunked 15.

Gabby O’Sullivan ran rampant, Sabreena Duffy waddled along and still managed to find the footy because she flat out knows how to play, Gemma Houghton continually hit up on leads and Ebony Antonio was a maestro through the middle in one of her more impressive games.

It was almost unfair to see the Eagles girls trying to compete with this footballing machine, and in the end, the Dockers ran out winners by 67-points.


Note – I stopped watching immediately following the game, so I missed the presentation of the AFLW Derby Medal to Kiara Bowers. I’m not stupid enough to state someone else should have won it, but as part of this review, which is Freo-heavy anyway, I am listing the players I thought were in contention. No particular order.



This was possibly the best game I have seen Gabby O’Sullivan play. I really enjoyed her work last season in what could have been the first ever premiership season for any Freo team, but she has lifted in 2021 again to become one of the better second option forwards in the game.

Her ong leading between half forward and wing opened the game up for Freo like me opening up a box of Cadbury favourit… oh, they’re all gone. She displayed great hands, took contested grabs, hit the ground running and was a pivotal link between the midfield and forward line.

She finished with 11 touches and a goal, with ten of those touches coming from marks. An excellent game from one of the more underrated players in the league.



As if the Eagles weren’t having a hard enough time getting inside fifty, every time they tried,. they seemed to be met by a wall of Dockers, and chief amongst them was Anne Stannett.

Her attack on the footy was uncompromising and her commitment to the contest would have inspired those around her to put their bodies on the line when it was their turn to go.

Ten touches and two tackles does not do her contribution justice, as in a tight game, we would be lauding her efforts to cut off the forward forays of the Eagles.



Five goals – the second-highest total in AFLW history behind Brooke Lochland’s ridiculous seven-goal effort a couple of years back, how can you not respect the efforts of Gemma Houghton, here? She led well, actually took the chest marks she often puts to ground and kicked well at goal to finish with 15 touches, seven marks and 5.2 for the game.

Is there a strong argument for her winning the award? You damn bet there is, particularly when she is doing what only one other person has achieved… but I guess that’s why I don’t get paid to give votes and the vote-giving people do.

Because they know.

Houghton has a bit of killer instinct about her. You could see her starring in a B-Grade action move where she just drops people without thinking. An assassin in footy boots, she vaulted to equal top of the AFLW goal kicking rankings with this performance, and may have secured her third All-Australian selection in the process.



I want to put this out there  if Hayley Miller was not playing alongside Kiara Bowers, we would be talking about what a great midfielder she is. Fair?

She is a coalface worker, has very good hands and is often one of the more prominent players early in a game, kickstarting the Docker running machine and she was at it again in this one. She is averaging a career-high 14.7 touches in 2021 as she continues to work on her game, and if she starts hitting the scoreboard… look out!



She was my pick for the medal – just a calm, in control game from Ebony Antonio that showcased her class, her marking ability and her footy IQ.

She positioned herself brilliantly, fed the ball off to open players to bring them into the game and more or less patrolled the field like she owned it and everyone else was just permitted to trot around there for a while.

She finished with 23 touches and nine marks as one of the pillars of this Fremantle side and looked like she did it without breaking a sweat. Easily her best outing of the season.



But the medal went to Kiara Bowers, with another high-octane performance.

Interestingly, it was by far her least effective tackling game of the season… probably because the Dockers owned the footy and players just either threw it on the boot or handballed whenever they saw Bowers bearing down on them.

She never stops running, puts her opponents under constant pressure and would have to be firming as the favourite to win the 2021 MVP award.



One handball too many.

Two handballs too many.

Handballs to stationary targets.

Handballs missing stationary targets.

That is the story of the West Coast Eagles in this one, who butchered the footy under pressure or without it and deserved the hiding they got.

Their work when running toward fifty beggared belief at times. Running into an open fifty metre arc, somehow, they would manage to either completely lose the ball (left it behind) or handball to the player under the most defensive pressure.

I understand that Daniel Pratt and his team are attempting to create an unselfish culture where sharing the footy around and bringing teammates into the game becomes the norm, but a good culture knows when the right time to do that is.

And the Eagles are yet to learn that aspect.



If there is one thing that could be construed as a positive out of this caning, it would be the continued development of Isabella Lewis.

She recorded a career-high 17 touches in this one under extreme duress from the Dockers every time she touched it. At just 18 years of age, the number three pick is demonstrating a huge work ethic and the willingness to take on responsibility.

Wild prediction – she will be THE star of this West Coast team by 2023.



The Dockers head to Ikon Park to meet up with the Blues and perhaps… just perhaps make it very difficult for the Blues to make finals.

Meanwhile, West Coast welcomes the Cats to WA in what is, unbelievably, a winnable game. You’d think that after the wrap up above, that the Eagles are the worst team in the caper, right? Nup… they just ran into one of the best.


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