The last week of clear air for AFLW saw the Dees make a statement, the Lions stand up, a Kangaroo break some records, and a classic between the Dockers and the Blues
However, I know you’re not here for this preamble – let’s jump straight into the game reviews.
RICHMOND 6. 5. (41) DEFEATED GOLD COAST 4. 2. (26)
REVIEWER – JB EDDY
Getting towards the pointy end of the season now, and while these two teams won’t feature in September April action, there were some great indications of where the game is going in the future.
Richmond have grown this season. On the back of an emerging group of young midfielders, along with blue-collar talent at either end, they’ve managed to take a significant step up from their inaugural wooden spoon and have emerged into a mid-table team. Gold Coast on the other hand are still yet to sing their song in anger in 2021, but have a lot of young talent that just needs a couple more seasons to flourish.
Despite the difference in ladder positions, Gold Coast definitely had their chances, coming within three points part way through the third quarter. Richmond switched to some tempo football though, and as has happened all season, Gold Coast seemed to tire as the quarter went on.
It would be interesting to see how aggressive Gold Coast will be at season’s end, as they seem to have a lot of young talent and players approaching the dreaded 30. Whether they go for a clean out and leave their young brigade without veteran support or target a few big names in trade will determine how hopeful they will be for 2021.
In this match though, they just didn’t quite have it.
RUCK CRAFT NOT DEAD YET
If you want an instructional on how to ruck, you could do much worse than watch Gold Coast’s Lauren Bella. In an age where Rucks have to act as forward options as well, Bella is part of the old guard that value ruck craft above standing in the square and yelling “kick it to me!”
It’s a shame that ruck craft seems a dying art, and Bella has shown why all season. Watch how she approaches the centre bounce, she’ll vary the line she takes, how she clashes with her opponent, as well as where she aims her tap. She can go long and forward as well as deftly palm it down to any of her own players in a 360⁰ radius. At a ball up, she varies the timing of her contact and can tap with either hand. It’s a joy to watch, which unfortunately a few of her teammates seem to agree with, mesmerised by her movements and forgetting that they too have a job to do in this match.
If the Suns mids can put a bit more body on to create that all-important first step of speed away from their opponent, they’ll be a much, much more dangerous side. If the only thing this team practises in the off season is pushing off an opponent at centre bounces, they’ll double their scoring chances in 2022.
IN THE MIDDLE
For the Tigers, Queen Conti returned and racked up 25 touches and seven clearances. What more can be said about her? She’s a beautiful user of the ball, incredibly agile and utterly relentless in her ability to run and create options for her teammates.
While her numbers were up there, she did seem a bit off her pace in this match. Not to a massive degree, just a few less 1-2s and palm offs than I’ve come to enjoy from her. One example is that she was run down by Tori Groves-Little for a nice tackle and holding the ball, where normally she’d dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodged her way out of it. I’d still have her as the best on ground for the game, despite Brennan’s three-goal haul, but she didn’t have to do so much of it alone in this match, which was a good thing for the Tigers. Conti is also coming back from a niggle as well, so to play the game she did is a credit to her discipline and tenacity.
Ellie McKenzie has also emerged into an exciting addition to the team, playing more minutes in the middle, allowing Brennan, Jacques and Dempsey to spend more time up forward.
Kate Surman was a highlight for Gold Coast, making space everywhere. Her forward 50 entries were exactly what Gold Coast needed at a time where they lack their main forward focal point in Sarah Perkins, and she even managed to follow the play forward to kick a nice goal. If her younger teammates can learn the game from her, they’ll be all the better for it.
Both back lines had to absorb a lot of pressure, but Harriet Cordner was an absolute rock. While she only had 12 touches, she was excellent at making a contest out of any forward 50 entry in her area, and more than willing to throw a few hip and shoulders into her opposition, and who doesn’t love to see that in a full back? Well, except maybe
For Gold Coast, Lauren Ahrens had a lot of the ball from CHB with 21 disposals, was very efficient in finding a target. It hurt her a bit when she’d be part of the play, only for someone further up the ground to turn the ball over and she had to sprint back to cover her zone. She faded a bit as the quarters wore on, but she’s hardly alone in that.
With spearhead Sarah Perkins injured and Cordner’s talent and form, GC were pushing the proverbial uphill for much of the game. Richmond didn’t have the same hole though, with Brennan maintaining her recent form and putting 3 on the board, as well as Wakefield chipping in nicely.
I had expected Fredrick to pose a bigger problem up forward, but it seemed Richmond were content to shoot from inside the arc rather than pop it up to her when she wasn’t in the ruck.
While Gold Coast had more marks overall, winning that area 44-39, the most telling stats were contested marks, which Richmond won 7-3, and marks in forward 50, which Richmond also won 11-4. A few of those inside 50 marks were setting up a better angle to shoot for goal, but the fact they had so many opportunities to do that is not fantastic for the Suns.
ALMOST FOR THE COAST
GC got within three points at one stage, and their ability to harass and tackle looked like it was going to cause a bit of an upset. Their failure to finish cost them though. While missing Perkins hurt them, it was the half chances that weren’t taken that cost them the match. They seemed reluctant to use the corridor, even when kicking down the line resulted in a two or three on one against their teammate. Richmond had it well scouted and the more they exposed it, the more tactically timid GC seemed to become.
HARD BUMPS, LOTS OF TACKLES
While GC may have been a bit reluctant to vary their gameplan, they literally threw themselves into a hard-hitting style of play. Hip and shoulders aplenty, and some nice hard tackles to boot. Maddison Levi was a tackling machine with 9 for the match. Her aggression on the ball carrier halted many Richmond forward thrusts, and her battles with Jacques were truly no-holds-barred, strip the flesh and salt the wound style of play.
The problem with playing physical footy is that it’s, well, physical. Those bumps add up, especially if you’re dishing them out one after another.
POISE UNDER PRESSURE
I liked watching the GC players this round. There is so much potential there, and it’s almost coming together.
Single was very good all game, but too often seemed intimidated out of picking the ball up, preferring to soccer. It was the right call a few times, but cost them quite a few too.
The other area where they need to improve is the quick handball. At least two throws were called due to GC trying to move the ball quicker than they could handle, but it should have been many more. Quite a few throws were not called due to congestion, but Richmond seemed to get the rub of the green with a few non-calls of holding the ball and high tackles too, so it may have evened up a bit.
Getting some speed into those hands will be a key offseason goal.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
Both of these sides are flush with quality players born this side of the Y2K scare. While neither side is ready for a finals tilt just yet, the class of the under 22 brigade is astonishing.
Conti is often touted for her ability, yet I still think she’s underrated. That’s how good she it.
McKenzie is the first of the next generation of professional female footballer. Good on both sides of the body, hard running and reads the ball well, she also has a knack for knowing where support is and either making clever passes or moving into a zone where they can block any pursuit.
Lauren Bella is just 20 and in her third season. Last year she led the league in hitouts, which is impressive, but watching this match it’s the quality of her taps that make her so dangerous. She varies her approach to the ruck in terms of angle and pace, can tap in a full 360, adds in some nice long punches occasionally. She had a beautiful long tap to start the second half that resulted ina quick goal. As a ruck, I can’t recall anyone better. If she can add a bit of forward presence as some of her opponents like Sabrina Fredrick and Emma King do, she could well be the AA ruck of this generation.
Madison Levi is just 18 years old and a ferocious competitor. She has some work to do on her hand skills, as well as the ability to push off her opponent to make space, but there’s a lot to like about her hunger for the physical side of things, as well as some nice poise in front of goal that got her two in this game.
Lucy Single is also just 18 years, and seemed an absolute terrier around the ground. Definitely needs to clean up her skills below the knees, but on a dewey night it’s understandable.
Gold Coast host Carlton in a game that Carlton need to win, and win by a lot to have any chance of playing finals. They’ll put a big score on, and should prove too good for the Gold Coast, especially as they’ll be keeping some powder dry for their final round spoonbowl game against Geelong, which should see the Suns break their duck, as long as both teams aren’t trying to tank. If that happens, it could be worth watching just for the spectacle. Well, for a quarter anyway.
Richmond take on the Eagles at Punt Rd, and should prove too strong for them. A Bulldogs team in round 9 that will be desperate for a win looks like a bigger test, and it will be that game that will show just how far the team has come as this season progressed.
GWS 7. 3. (45) DEFEATED ST KILDA 3. 7 (25)
REVIEWER – JASON IRVINE
It was a wet afternoon in Moorabbin as St Kilda and Greater Western Sydney battled it out at RSEA Park in Round 7 AFLW action. The conditions – raining for the entire match – saw each team try to make the most of a sloppy surface, however the intent never wavered from either side with the attack on the ball continually evident.
The Giants kicked four unanswered goals to begin the first term before the Saints managed to get a couple of majors in the second quarter to see the margin at six points at the main break – the away side not adding to their total in the second. However, a scoreless third quarter to St Kilda, opposed to a two-goal effort from GWS was enough of a buffer that the Giants could hold on with each side adding a single goal in the fourth.
Alice Parker was a massive figure in the middle of the ground for the Giants, collecting a game-high 28 touches (an equal season-high) while Georgia Patrikios, too, equalled her season-high disposal tally of 27. Cora Staunton and Rebecca Privitelli each kicked three goals for the Giants.
ANOTHER BROADCAST BLUNDER
A story that has been told a few times this season, with Fox Sports’ coverage cutting out a couple of minutes into the second term. The broadcast didn’t return for two and a half minutes, and even then, it was another minute until we heard Kelli Underwood again and a further two minutes before the score appeared.
Well, luckily there wasn’t anything important we missed right? Oh, what’s that? Just St Kilda’s first goal of the afternoon? I see. Always seems to happen in important, not-to-be-missed moments.
Anyway, Kate Shierlaw had kicked the Saints first goal of the game after failing to get on the scoreboard last week. Can’t really explain how it happened, or how the build-up looked, but I’m sure she celebrated well.
THE TACKLES IN A SCRAPPY CONTEST
St Kilda more than doubled GWS’ tackle count for the duration of the match, 103-46 – the biggest difference in tackles counts in an AFLW game. This was due to the Giants often getting to the ball first but having most of the possession regardless.
Four players, all from St Kilda – Tyanna Smith, Catherine Phillips, Georgia Patrikios and Alice Burke – each had ten or more tackles, while ten of the top 11 in that category were Saints. Only two Saints had zero tackles on the day, however six Giants recorded zero tackles, highlighting the fact that GWS were able to run rings around their opposition all day and not have to play too defensive.
PRVITELLI HANDY EARLY IN LEAPS AND BOUNDS
Proving to Alan McConnell she deserves to be in this GWS team after he axing for last week’s game against Brisbane, Rebecca Privitelli demonstrated in no uncertain terms that she belongs in the orange and charcoal outfit.
From the very start, she was involved in the contests but her overhead, contested marking stood out greatly. She only took two marks for the match but they were both taken in the first quarter of play, playing deep in the goalsquare.
Privitelli kicked the Giants’ first two goals of the match, the first coming after a Cora Staunton bomb to the top of the square. The second goal was from another contested mark but before taking the mark, she was leading up for the Elle Bennetts kick and turning her opponent inside out. She was also involved in the play on the wing in the lead-up to the goal as Tait Mackrill and Britt Tully helped it forward to Bennetts.
Privitelli set up a Katherine Smith goal in the first quarter too, being rewarded with a free kick when Jayde Van Dyk held the ball for too long. Privitelli used constant forward pressure to wrap up Van Dyk, and looked well-placed to kick another goal. Disappointingly, the ball travelled across the face. Luckily, Smith was there to have it fall into her arms and from the pocket, she produced a drop punt from a tight angle that sailed through the big sticks.
Privitelli slotted her third of the afternoon to a chorus of boos after a controversial free kick against Tamara Luke. The two players were wrestling with each other to get in a position to mark when an inbound Jodie Hicks quick snap came towards them. The umpire adjudged Luke (who went to ground herself) to be holding Privitelli, and awarded the free kick right in front of the goals. Luke was perplexed and flabbergasted by the decision, unable to reason with the umpire as the Giant gave her side a 20 point lead ahead of three-quarter time.
VETERAN STAUNTON USES GAELIC SKILLS
Cora Staunton had her second-best goal output of the season, kicking three goals in a great display that highlights she can do anything at 39 years of age and especially with her gaelic background, it presents headaches for her opponents.
Staunton’s third of the game came in the fourth quarter when she beat Rhiannon Watt in a running contest by continually kicking it along the ground forcing the ball to skid forward until eventually, she got it on the side of the boot as it drifted through for a goal.
Tait Mackrill collected the ball from a stoppage on the wing and kicked wildly inside 50 but it fell to the advantage of Staunton. She turned her defender to get the best position and utilised her gaelic skills to kick the only goal to that end for the game.
She kicked the Giants third goal of the game, beating Watt in a one-on-one when a Tait Mackrill kick landed in front of them. Watt couldn’t compete and brought Staunton to ground, giving away a free kick which Staunton had no problem in converting.
Staunton kicked her second of the afternoon after another blunder from the Saints. Bianca Jakobsson was acting as a gatekeeper about 20m out from the Giants goal and the bounding ball was bouncing a little too high for the defender, who was unable to get enough power when she looked to punch it forward. Staunton was in hot pursuit and reacted swiftly, getting away from Watt again to dribble it through.
ST KILDA PRESSURE NOT BEING REWARDED AS GWS GOAL–LINE EFFORTS PRAISED
During the second quarter, the Giants went scoreless, however St Kilda really should’ve captailised on a few chances. To the Giants credit, their defenders were there on the last line to keep the margin in their favor.
The Giants gave up an easy avenue to goal when a free kick was overturned by the emergency umpire. The new recipient of the kick, Katherine Smith, identified most players were in St Kilda’s forward 50 so kicked forward to the wing. Emily Goodsir wasted a kick inside 50 that ended up down the throat of Tarni White who marked uncontested and rebounded with ease. The rebound effort almost resulted in a goal when Tahlia Meyer and Darcy Guttridge combined, the former kicking long in front of Jacqui Vogt who soccered and kept running. Pepa Randall was on the last line to knock it over for a rushed behind.
Elle Bennetts was pressured enough in the Saints forward 50, turning the ball over by kicking it straight to Catherine Phillips. Phillips looked for, and almost found Kate Shierlaw on a lead but she couldn’t bring it down. Shierlaw though did control the ball enough to snap around her body but didn’t get enough weight on it as Randall was there to knock it over again.
Bennetts was another Giant who kept a close eye on the forwards and was rewarded when she smothered a Tamara Luke kick on the goal line. Shierlaw won a free kick and went for goal, the ball falling short and off hands in the busy pack in the goalsquare. The Sherrin fell to Luke who was mere metres from the goals but Bennetts was paying attention and responded quickly as she stretched out her arms in hot pursuit of Luke, getting hands to the ball before Luke’s kick crossed the line.
The Giants now sit two games and a huge amount of percentage outside the top six, and with two games remaining will put the cue in the rack for 2021. What this means is that they can now experiment with their lineup through the remaining two weeks. They get the Cats and Blues to finish up, which could see them end the year on a nice little win streak.
The Saints are in a similar boat, and after a good start to the season, find themselves in the bottom four. They have the Pies next week, but will be eyeing off the final game of the season against the Eagles as a chance to turn things around and finish on a high note.
NORTH MELBOURNE 5. 7. (37) DEFEATED WESTERN BULLDOGS 3. 8. (26)
REVIEWER – ALEX DOCHERTY
As far as games go, this was going to be one of these games where we well and truly find out where both the Bulldogs and the Kangaroos are in terms of the AFLW pecking order.
For North, they were tipped as a heavy favourite before the season began, but have since dropped games to both Collingwood and Melbourne, but have since rediscovered their winning form, beating Carlton and a Richmond side that have improved vastly this season. But a contest with the Bulldogs at North Hobart Oval would be a contest that they’d be putting a big red circle on.
I say that because the Bulldogs have been a surprise packet team this season, full of run, carry and they have attacked a contest head on most weeks. Against the ladder-leading Collingwood last week, the Dogs did a very good job in holding off the way the Pies ran the footy and spread away from the contest, until half time that is.
What this game showed is that the Bulldogs, for as good as they’ve been this year, are not ready to compete against the best. Yes they were competitive in large parts of the game, but as it will be said below, the Dogs have had little moments that cost them a few goals in this one, and you can’t have that against the better sides in the competition.
WHAT’S GOING ON WITH THE LASSO RULE?
A few weeks ago, I made mention of the lasso rule and how it had confused not just the players, but myself – even going so far as to suggesting that the AFL needs to bin the rule. I think that might have been round three or four I said that.
After this game, I find myself saying the same thing, or at the very least make sure the interpretation is clear. Not once, but twice was a ball handballed out of bounds between the forward 50 arcs of North Hobart Oval and on both occasions Hannah Scott and Brooke Lochland respectively should’ve been awarded the free for the last touch rule. But the umpires instead called for a boundary throw-in.
It’s not the first time this has occurred, and it probably won’t be the last time it happens, either before the season is through, but the fact is that it is causing confusion for the players and it kind of refers to something I’ve been saying about too many rules added into the game that confuse the officials as well, which in turn, results in inconsistent decisions, such as this.
I wouldn’t mind a statistic that carries the scores from this rule in particular. Largely because the last touch out of bounds was brought in to keep the game flowing. Sometimes I’ve seen it serve its purpose, but I don’t think it happens enough to warrant it being a mainstay rule in the years to come.
If I could usurp the rules committee, the first thing I’d be looking at is this rule, because it’s flaming hot garbage.
JAMMIN’ JASMINE, THE CLEARANCE SPECIALIST
HB will probably declare Ash Riddell the best player on the ground knowing him – and it’s fair to an extent, because the North Melbourne midfield was dominant. Yes, the result was close, but games can be – and are often – won and lost in the middle. It really started with Emma King’s elite tap work – the Roos recorded over a dozen hitouts to advantage and I think she had a lot of them. Riddell, Kearney (will get to her) and the following player absolutely dined out on her ruck craft in this one.
This was Jasmine Garner’s game. The only thing she didn’t put in is the customary goal on the stats sheet, but when you break the AFLW record for clearances in a game, then those are almost worth as much as a six-pointer. Riddell was great and was probably a close second, Emma Kearney casually had a lazy 21 disposals herself.
But given that the Kangaroos had a +12 advantage in the clearance count, Garner’s 28 disposal, 13 clearance and eight tackle effort was just an outstanding performance. It is very interesting to point out that for most of the evening, Garner was alongside Britney Gutknecht, Gabby Newton or Jess Fitzgerald around the stoppages – bet you’d call that one a learning experience right?
For those in the: ‘what the hell is Burkey doing?’ camp, it’s probably worth mentioning that the only way these girls will learn and get better is if they play alongside the better players. It’s a bit of short-term pain for long-term gain situation, which if you’re Anne Hatchard, Ebony Marinoff or Erin Phillips next week, you’re probably licking your lips at that prospect, but it keeps me – and hopefully the Bulldog fanbase as well – pretty happy knowing that they’re still in there and giving it a red-hot crack against some of the competition’s best.
(Nah… Garner was best on. Riddell was a close second – HB)
MASTER V THE APPRENTICE
When Emma Kearney was still at the Bulldogs, she was the number one midfielder – Ellie Blackburn was the premiership captain, but the midfield was centred around Kearney and a lot of the play was generated off her bursts out of the stoppages in the middle – this was a key reason why she won the competitions best and fairest in 2018.
Side note – how good would that 2018 midfield be today if they were still running together? Mon Conti averaging 25+, Ellie Blackburn continuing to dominate and Kirsty Lamb now starting to really elevate herself into the upper echelon of midfielders – you could easily make the case that it could match any of the other midfield groups of the AFLW.
Nonetheless, it’s always interesting to see how the ex-Dog comes up against her old side. That first quarter saw her match up on Blackburn and she took the chocolates easily in the first quarter. A play that typified that was one of those goals in the final 90 seconds of the opening term which saw Kearney work Blackburn into the contest at the centre bounce and simultaneously drift out and be on the end of good clearance work set up by Emma King and Garner, which led to her first of two goals.
I won’t even go near her second one, because that one came out of gratuitous umpiring and if anyone says any different, I’ll do everything in my being to have you sent to WA where Mark McGowan will keep you locked up in the state for the rest of your days and have you subjected to his ramblings and highlights of the Eagles’ AFLW team.
Blackburn got better as the game progressed and you can see every week that she’s doing everything that she can to help get the Dogs over the line, but I think the depth that the Dogs have in the midfield just doesn’t bat too deep yet, Newton played well in patches, Fitzgerald’s going to be an elite player, but it’s just not ready to combat the better midfield set-ups.
And as for Kirsty Lamb’s game, for as much as the umpires gave her no respect – like seriously, she got clobbered around the neck like three times and got no free kicks for her troubles, what the bloody hell is that all about? – I thought she continued to outline what a magnificent season she’s having – 21 disposals, five tackles and five marks, was looking quite prominent out of the stoppages at various stages and continues to cover ground superbly.
WHERE DOES ELEANOR BROWN SIT AMONGST THE LEAGUE’S MOST IMPROVED?
It’d have to be bloody close to the top surely. Right now as it stands, Tyla Hanks is the first player that comes to mind when discussing the most improved players in the league this season, just go and look at the replay of the Dees/Crows game if the reviews here don’t sway you.
But I don’t think Eleanor Brown will be too far behind when we’re talking about the game’s most improved players. Could she be the most improved defender? Perhaps, she’s got Ruby Schleicher up for company and given the fact that she’ll probably be an All-Australian this season, you’d have to say Brown is probably the next best improved player emanating from the defensive half of the ground
Once again, it was another very staunch performance from her in this one, her ability to intercept was once again on full display and I thought her tackling was sensational, being the equal-leader of the game in the tackles with 10 alongside Ellie Gavalas.
The defence was under siege for large parts of this game, and a couple of years ago, Eleanor Brown would’ve coughed up a lot more of the footy, but she looks so much more composed and confident in her abilities and it holds her in good stead for the years to come.
We talk about the likes of Blackburn and Huntington being key figures in this team, but I think that Brown is steadily becoming another one of these important players in this team. Her ability to intercept will be critical in the next few years.
As much as it hurt seeing Kirsten McLeod getting knocked out momentarily, I absolutely loved Aileen Gilroy’s gut running from the other side of the half forward flank and take her out with the classic hip and shoulder. Nothing untoward and it saved a certain goal – played another fair game, that Gilroy.
Quite enjoyed watching the battle of Sarah Hartwig and Kaitlyn Ashmore on the wing. Both finished with the nine disposals but had different sort of games – Ashmore laid eight tackles and showed a defensive side to her game, Hartwig’s touches came off the back half and was taking the game on off half back.
A donut game for Sophie Abbatangelo – no touches. Ashleigh Guest and Katie Lynch worked off her a fair bit, and she was playing out of the goal square a fair bit – wonder if she’s playing hurt? Either way, I don’t like her chances of keeping her spot in the side next week.
Ellie Gavalas playing another underrated game across the middle of the ground with 17 disposals to go along with her 10 tackles for the evening. A spot in the AA team is out of reach, but I wonder if she gets a spot in the top 50?
Bonnie Toogood had the one goal for the match, but the way she leads up the ground and the way she attacks ground ball was something to be admired. Her marking hands have also improved out of sight this season, she took a couple of nice contested grabs in this one.
Danielle Hardiman had the job on Izzy Huntington for most of the game, Tahlia Randall had stints on her as well, but Huntington had the 2.2 from 11 disposals and four marks. Could’ve got them back in the contest if she nailed that goal in the last quarter, but it was a fine game nonetheless.
Grace Campbell had the six touches, but also had the six tackles – I think she’s having a very unheralded season – she looks very comfortable playing that small pressure forward role and I think the forward line look a lot better with her there as well, which is saying something.
I watched Gemma Lagioia’s game and it became evident why she was dropped a number of weeks ago – she seems to have a more conservative approach to the footy. A case in point was the little passage of play that saw her try to tap it to her teammate, which in turn cost them a goal the other way. She needs to be bit more attacking in the way she goes about it, which I thought she did after half time.
Nathan Burke was critical about lapses in concentration post-game, I think one play that stood out was watching Ash Riddell’s goal in the second term – two Bulldogs were there, I think it was Naomi Ferres and Issy Pritchard that were both within a metre, but both sort of took their eye off Riddell for a second and she was off to the races – it’s the little things like that passage of play which will only make the Dogs better off in the long run.
Lastly, this was Jess Duffin’s best game in the North colours since her return to the side, thought she got more comfortable in being in the right spots, took a couple of nice grabs on the last line of defence and was using the ball brilliantly further afield as well. Finished with the 20 disposals – 14 of those being kicks and went at 90 percent disposal efficiency.
MELBOURNE 6.7. (43) DEFEATED ADELAIDE 2. 3. (15)
REVIEWER – HB MEYERS
Wet weather footy makes the game simple in many ways. The harder you go, and the longer you go, the better the result. You match the pressure of your opponents, don’t stay down when you get knocked over and make as many contests as you can.
How I miss playing wet weather foo… actually, I don’t miss it at all. It’s bloody hard work.
Melbourne demonstrated that they meant business right from the outset, throwing everything at a team that thrives on winning the contested ball and beating them at their own game. As the Crows boasted names like Phillips, Hatchard and Marinoff in the clinches, it was the continuously improving Tyla Hanks and the underrated Lily Mithen that took it up to them, making their kicks count where as the Crows tended to hack and hope.
The ball movement of both teams, though similar at times, was the difference. The Dees were able to create periods of clean ball use, moving the footy from end-to-end by hitting targets. The Crows, on the contrary (not “contray” as either Abbey Holmes or Nat Edwards threw in there a couple of times, much to the horror of high school English teachers, everywhere) hacked the footy consistently, providing their forwards little chance to mark and less chance to convert.
In the end, it was the team that handled the conditions best that won, and won convincingly.
T HANKS VERY MUCH
Ladies and gentlemen, Tyla Hanks has arrived. She was a clear best on ground in the third quarter of this game as the Dees made their move and set up their win.
With clean hands while everyone else was fumbling and bumbling around like Joe Ganino on a date, Hanks made playing in the conditions look easy. Well, not easy, but a hell of a lot easier than it looked for almost everyone else on the park.
She kicked a wonderful goal after stealing the footy in the second quarter, snapping truly on her right with pressure around her, and her link-up work through the middle was first class.
Remember a few years ago when the standard of AFLW left a little to be desired at times, and people would say “wait til the next generation of players comes through…” and the like? This is the generation they were talking about. This is the talent level they were waiting for.
Tyla Hanks put the Melbourne midfield on her shoulders in this game and made the statement against some of the best midfielders in the caper – not only is she here to compete with them; she is here to beat them! And that’s what she did in this contest – great game, Tyla.
A GAY OLD TIME
Don’t come at me – they used it as part of The Flintstones theme song!
I was really impressed with the hard work from Maddie Gay in this game. Whether it was throwing her body into the contest, or running hard to take down Erin Phillips, you could tell Gay’s intensity was dialed up for this game.
Another who displayed great touch (including a brilliant little tap on under pressure to Paxman at one stage that made me say “ahhhhh”as it landed in term teammate’s hands without her breaking stride.
With 20 touches and five tackles, Gay would have been singing the Demons theme song long and loud – her contributions to this game did not just fill up the stats sheet – they were meaningful. She made big plays at big points in the game. It might be the best I have seen her to date.
GO HARD LIKE LAMPARD
For someone with a career average of nine touches per game, the 21 disposals from Sarah Lampard were just what the doctor ordered for the Dees off half back.
IN recent weeks we have seen Daisy Pearce deployed forward to give the Dees some skill and composure forward of centre, but the big question was how they covered for her experience and poise in the back half.
The answer came today in the form of Lampard.
She was the leading disposal winner on the park in the first half before settling into the groove again after half time to record one of, if not the most impressive outing of her AFLW career.
With 26 games to her name, Lampard looked completely at ease in the difficult conditions as she rebounded the footy and intercepted her way into the hearts of Melbourne fans.
SHE AIN’T MITHEN YOU AT ALL…
Mithen you… since you’ve been gone… away.
You know how it goes, and if you don’t, I am sorry for the obscure reference.
A couple of weeks back, I was chatting with a couple of my fellow Mongrels about the Dees midfield going forward and they were really high on Lily Mithen, going so far as to state that if they were forced to choose between her and Karen Paxman, they’d take Mithen. I almost fell off my chair.
That said, kit caused me to pay more attention to Mithen and how she goes about it. She obviously does not have the strength of Paxman, but her all-day running ability saw her get to contest after contest in this game. Throw in eight tackles and you have a very well-rounded performance.
One thing I did notice – Mithen was the “victim” of two dangerous tackles in this game, but I wonder how much of a victim she really was. You see, there was a fair bit of criticism a couple of weeks ago around the number of tackles that bordered on dangerous in AFLW. David King was rabbitting on about it at one point so it’s not like it was some intricate knowledge. The umpires and AFLW brass hear this criticism and crack down on the action to prevent it.
An intelligent player learns how to… not milk the free kick, but how to put herself in position to benefit from the stricter interpretation of the rule. Am I saying Mithen deliberately threw herself to the ground to exact a free kick for a dangerous tackle? Nope, but nor am I saying she put up much of a fight to prevent it. Neither tackles were particularly dangerous, but if Mithen made them look that way, then more power to her.
Umps should be a bit of a wake up to that, however.
THE SHERIFF COMES TO TOWN
The commitment to the cause from Casey Sheriff in this contest epitomised the way the Demons went about it. She was tough, uncompromising, no holds barred and no beg your pardons (yes, I am plagiarising Graham and the Colonel from the Late Show on the ABC in the 90s) in her play in this game.
A season-high six tackles and relentless pressure across half back made life extremely difficult for the Adelaide forwards. In particular, her closing speed was impressive, managing to disrupt plays where others may have conceded possession.
She was another who took great delight in dragging down Erin Phillips to earn a holding the ball decision in what was obviously a team tactic – no easy kicks for Phillips, and Sheriff made that the truth.
HORE’S SECOND HALF BAG
Oh man… I’m getting worse at these titles. I’m sorry… I’ll stop.
Kate Hore once again put her name at the forefront of All-Australian selection with a three-goal haul for the Dees in conditions that saw both clubs combine for just eight goals combined. She played an intelligent brand of football, made very few errors and gave the Dees a dangerous presence inside 50 while the talls understandably struggled to find the footy.
Hore’s understanding of the game and both how and when to play for free kicks were on full display in this game, parking herself in the best spot and positioning her body in such a way to compel the umpire to reward her.
The result was three vital goals in the second half, allowing the Dees to break away from a Crows unit that looked as though they were running through snow at times. Hore finished with a season-high three goals, and it was the third time she had registered multiple goals this season. This, combined with her 19 touches made for an excellent evening at the office.
So, AA selection, or not? Missing a game in a nine-week season is highly detrimental to your chances, but with two rounds of footy left, I reckon Hore is one more good game away from locking up her second-straight selection. Her combination with Shelley Scott and Daisy Pearce if the captain remains in the forward line, will give opposition teams headaches, particularly the the ball gets slippery. They all have exquisite skills and need to be watched very carefully.
THE GARDEN OF EDEN
Look, I know it wasn’t – at least it’s better than the previous title.
Where has Eden Zanker come from? A year or so ago she was this lanky lass, sometimes rucking, sometimes hanging around half forward and dropping marks, and now… well, now she looks like a star in the making!
Her centre clearance work was excellent – I was actually a bit stunned to see her in there (I haven’t covered a heap of Dees games this season – apologies if I am late to the party) and her attack on the incoming footy was impressive when she moved forward.
If there was an award for the continued improvement of a player, Zanker would have to be in strng consideration for it. She moves well, is developing a real feel for the game and could legitimately play anywhere at the moment. What an asset to have at your disposal.
So, what were the highlights for the Crows?
Hard to say – I liked the work ethic of Rachelle Martin again. When injected into the middle, she gave them something with her tenacity.
Stevie Lee Thompson again looked good off half back, but found herself under constant pressure.
Ang Foley and Sarah Allan tried their backsides off in defence but they were under siege at points. The Dees had an 18-3 advantage in inside 50s for the third quarter. I don’t care how many leaks you plug – that dam will break under that kind of pressure.
Finally, she had a few mates, but Justine Mules had a shocker. Too much trying to tap the wet ball to advantage in order to pick it up instead of putting her head over the footy and winning it. You’d hope that is a lesson learned from this game.
FREMANTLE 6. 9. (45) DEFEATED CARLTON 6. 5. (41)
REVIEWER – HB MEYERS
It’s funny – sometimes you can watch an entire game of footy and sit down to write a review and struggle for something to focus on. Some games are nondescript, and some leave you wondering what the big deal was?
Not this game.
Carlton came out like a team with something to prove in the first quarter, completely ambushing a Fremantle team who were clearly not up for the kind of pressure the Blues provided. The Blues tackles harder, attacked the footy with more intent, and hit the scoreboard to establish a good lead, if not one that reflected how good they were.
Then the Dockers started to reel them in. They pulled back the margin just enough over the ensuing two quarters to give them the opportunity to pounce, and like a team of sharks that smelled blood, as soon as the chance to go for the kill became available, the Dockers took it.
There is so much to cover in this one – so many games within the game. Let’s see if I can do it justice.
Let’s start with Stevens, who was the best forward on the park in this one.
Her efforts through the first half to provide the Blues a target across half forward were first class. She took contested marks, laid tackles and won her own footy. She finished with two goals from her 15 touches and simply won contest after contest when the ball came her way.
Whilst many gravitate to Vescio (who was also very good) or Tayla Harris (who wasn’t), few think of Stevens when considering the Carlton forward line, yet here we are with two games to go, and Stevens has eight goals to her name – a wonderful return from a player who is as honest as the day is long.
YOUR 2021 MVP
It was an interesting tussle in the middle between Kiara Bowers and Maddy Prespakis, but in the ened, the woman known as ‘Turbo’ emerged as the victor on the back of hard work over the entire four quarters.
Prespakis had the edge in the early going, perhaps reflective of her team’s domination of the Dockers, but I would happily wager that Bowers has her Carlton counterpart covered in regard to fitness, and that became more and more apparent as the game progressed.
Bowers had 24 of her 28 touches after quarter time. Prespakis had 11 of her 18 in the same timeframe.
When you add in another double-figure return in tackles (the lazy 11 for Bowers) and her relentless attack on the footy in the last quarter, you have a woman who has put some distance between herself and the likes of Jas Garner, Ellie Blackburn and Erin Phillips in the race for the MVP award.
There are a number of reasons that Freo have lost only one game this season, but one of the largest is the continued elite performances from Bowers. She is a machine.
THE MOODY BLUE
Okay, let’s put aside the shank that she almost knocked out Elise O’Dea with.
And while we’re at it, let’s put aside the accidental behind she kicked for the Dockers when attempting to kick across the face of goal – she is a ruck… you have to expect those types of things from a ruck.
What I would like to focus on is Breann Moody’s continued efforts to place herself in the right spots to cut off the Freo attacks, or rebound 50s at the knees. She was dominant in the air, raking in six marks, and picked up an impressive 19 disposals around the ground, indicating that she has done a mountain of work on her conditioning.
With our own AFLW expert, Alex Docherty, consistently updating his All-Australian team, Moody’s efforts in this game will have done her no harm at all.
But yeah, she probably owes Elise O’Dea a coffee and a panadol,
At quarter time of this game, the Freo midfield were being hammered. Absolutely, comprehensively punished, and that was starving the forward line of any opportunity.
Case in point, here are a few first quarter stats for Freo. Roxy Roux – zero disposals. Gabby O’Sullivan – zero disposals. Ebony Antonio – zero disposals. And to round it out, Gemma Houghton – zero disposals.
The Dockers needed a lift, and came in the form of Hayley Miller.
Often under the radar due to the brilliance of Bowers, Miller’s impact to get the Dockers up and running cannot be downplayed. She was hard at it, tackled well, and though you’ll look at this game and think “13 touches? That’s not impressive…” it was her continuous pressure and her attack on both the footy and the player with it that made a huge difference.
She finished with ten tackles for the game, the best and most important of which saw her refuse to be stepped on the mark at half forward by Grace Egan. When Egan tried to take her on, Miller made her pay. She won a holding the footy free kick, drove the ball inside fifty, leading to the first of the Duffy goals.
And you all know what happened from there.
At 25, Miller is entering her peak years. She worked hard in this one, and though the Dockers had plenty of players responsible for their comeback, do not sleep on the influence of Hayley Miller – she was huge.
HARRINGTON’S BEST AND WORST
Some may be tempted to remember Kerryn Harrington’s afternoon by citing the free kick she gave away by running too far in the third quarter. The Blues were looking settled when she heard the whistle blew and a free kick was awarded to Jasmin Stewart about 35 metres out on a tough angle.
Stewart threaded it to bring the margin back to a manageable level, but there was so much more to Harrington’s game in this one, and it deserves to be respected.
I rate Gabby O’Sullivan’s game very highly. As a lead up forward, her impact around the 50 metre mark can be crucial to the Dockers’ structure as they attack. However, in this one, she was comprehensively beaten by a player who just owned her position.
Kerryn Harrington recorded 22 touches as she peeled off and collected the footy after disposing of Gabby O, holding her opponent to just six touches in the process. It was an excellent defensive performance to not only shut down a very good, natural footballer, but to then also go about racking up the second-highest number of disposals was very impressive.
THE LAST QUARTER LIFT
Duffy – goal
Duffy – goal
Was it that simple? It felt like it at that stage, even though those watching will also throw in the work of Hayley Miller, Eb Anotonio, Kara Antonio, Steph Cain, Emma O’Driscoll and many others as the Dockers lifted as one to get out of jail.
The Blues should have won this – they were better for longer, but in one blistering series of plays, Freo proved that they don’t need much rope to wrap it around your neck and strangle the life out of you.
If anyone ever tells you that AFLW footy isn’t fantastic, this last quarter surge by the team many think is the best in the game may convince them otherwise. Then again, if people don’t want to be convinced, don’t waste your time – just enjoy this for what it was; a team rising to the challenge when the chips were down and producing three minutes of scintillating footy to win the game.
WILSON ALMOST PERFECT
You have to feel for Charlotte Wilson – she played a fantastic game on Gemma Houghton, restricting the power forward to her lowest disposal count of the season. She got some help early in the piece by Vaomua Laloifi’s help defence, but for the most part, it was left to Wilson to stifle the brilliant Houghton.
And that’s exactly what she did…
… right up until half way through the last quarter.
Two touches from Houghton put a dampener on Wilson’s day – a handball across her body to set up Sabreena Duffy, then a chest mark and conversion to give the Dockers the lead.
It reminded me of the day Mick Martyn help Gary Ablett Senior goalless until the death, only to have Ablett get out the back, get a gift of a mark and propel the Cats into the Grand Final. Obviously not on the same level, but with the Blues needing this win to stay in the hunt for finals, the stakes were pretty bloody high.
Overall, people are going to remember the last surge by Houghton and her team, but ignoring how good Wilson was for 90% of the game would be doing her a great disservice.
I reckon Sabreena Duffy is lucky she got on the end of those two goals late in the game. Her second efforts early on were non-existent, and if I am picking up on that stuff, I am sure the Freo coaching staff was, as well. She was also trying to cheat out the back a bit too often.
A high-quality game from Darcy Vescio again, looking dangerous every time she went near the footy. She has looked like a star over the last month of footy.
I wish I could say the same for Tayla Harris, who seems as intent on knocking people over as winning the footy. I wonder if she’s fit, and where her head’s at currently. That fifty metre penalty late in the game… costly and completely unnecessary. Can we just say that she was clearly beaten by Janelle Cuthbertson in this game and be done with it? Or do we need to make an excuse for her?
Steph Cain is showing plenty for Freo at the moment – she was very important in getting the Dockers back into the contest.
Overall, a wonderful game of footy to watch. The Blues came to play and in the end, Freo matched them. Really impressive win on the road for the Dockers, but that was complete get-out-of-jail stuff from them.
BRISBANE 4. 11. (35) DEFEATED COLLINGWOOD 4. 8. (32)
REVIEWER – ALEX DOCHERTY
If there’s anything the 2021 AFLW season has taught us is to expect anything – you never know what is going to happen with these games. It’s a bit like how Triple M used to run their music in the mid-2000s, only we’re currently dealing with something much more severe than Nickelback on repeat.
This game was supposed to be at Hickey Park – a treat of a contest for the Queenslanders, but with the current situation unfolding in the sunshine state (thoughts and best wishes to everyone up there), the game was quickly rescheduled to the Whitten Oval. I believe the decision was made on the Saturday afternoon, so there wasn’t a lot of time for preparation for the Lions.
This would’ve been Brisbane’s third-straight trip away from home, having played Fremantle in WA and GWS in Canberra – both games would present their challenges – Freo are a benchmark in the competition and the Giants, despite not exactly setting the world on fire, are still a revered contested team.
But this was a big one, against the unbeaten Collingwood side, this was a game that was gonna have a lot of eyes glued to this one. I saw and covered first hand how Brisbane stifled the Dockers gameplan. And given how sudden the location of the game changed, the odds were certainly stacked.
But this team knows no bounds. Once again, the coaching mind of Craig Starcevich and the elite work ethic of the Brisbane Lions have stamped themselves as a favourite for the premiership. Not hard to do when you’ve got the likes of Adelaide still there and Melbourne and North Melbourne re—affirming themselves after a few shaky weeks.
But let’s take a look at what unfolded in what should be discussed as one of the games of the season.
If Cathy Svarc isn’t at least inside the top three in Brisbane’s best and fairest count, I’ll actually spew up.
I’ve seen Svarc do a lot of jobs within the Brisbane team this year, and I think 95 percent of the time, she’s done what has been required. Over the past couple of weeks, she’s had the jobs on some of the bigger midfielders in the competition. She kept Alyce Parker well down on her influence last week and this week she was set the job on Bri Davey, who would have to be up there for considerations as the league’s best and fairest.
Now, in all honesty, I had to watch the replay, so I got a couple of little tidbits from the game beforehand, and this was one of them. But watching the replay, the boffins at Seven didn’t shy away from making it known that Svarc was matching up with her around the stoppages. She’s got great body strength, so going pound for pound with another big-bodied mid in Davey was never going to be an issue.
By half-time, Svarc had kept Davey to just the four disposals and whilst a large part of it is due to her physicality around the stoppages, the rest of it went down to how the nature of the game was being played. The nature of it was largely based on Brisbane harassing and forcing the Pies to play wide and deny the game being played on their terms.
Davey would finish with 14 disposals for the match, well below her best, whilst Svarc made sure she earned the points here by unloading one from just inside the 50-metre arc in the third quarter at a moment where the Lions needed a little bit of reward for their forward entries.
BREE KOENEN’S JOB ON CHLOE MOLLOY
I saw first hand how Eleanor Brown matched up on Chloe Molloy and had her covered on pace for basically the entire game – I’d say for about 80 percent of that game against the Dogs last week, Molloy was well beat. So, that was against someone who is currently in the third season, let’s have a look at how you go against a more seasoned-head?
Well, it turns out that Bree Koenen absolutely covered her to bits in this one and rendered her very ineffective. She barely got near it in the first term, but mainly because the ball was largely up Brisbane’s attacking end as opposed to being beaten in the contest, but in the second term, when the Pies were kicking with the wind, the Pies needed Molloy to get them going after being comprehensively smashed in the opening term.
But we didn’t see much – if any – of Molloy in that second term either. Any time the ball did come her way, Koenen was breathing down her neck, she showed good speed around the ground and created a lot of pressure and perceived pressure later in the game. Brown did a very solid job with it last week, and maybe it set a precedent in handling a player like Molloy. If she had a disposal in the first half, she must’ve only got one or two – possibly none.
That quiet half led to Steve Symonds making the change after half time and getting her to play as a loose in defence. Even then, she got some touch on the footy, but it didn’t come without a few fumbles and dropped marks – very uncharacteristic from someone like Molloy, who has talent bursting out of her ears.
THE EFFORT THAT SIGNIFIES THE HEART OF THE LIONS
There probably will be a few efforts throughout this game that Lions fans will have lodged away in their memory bank, but for me, there was one effort I want to highlight that describes how awe-inspiring this Lions team has been not just this week, but all season – and I think the Brisbane faithful know which one I’m talking about.
Dakota Davidson didn’t trouble the scorers this week, but made the contest on the wing and got boot to ball a further 20 or so metres further afield. Along with Jess Wuetschner (who had some good moments in this game), the pair forced the Pies to turn it over about 65 metres out and the Pies tried to work it out, but Davidson didn’t stop until the Lions made sure they had possession and went inside 50 .
Davidson deflected a few of those handpasses that Collingwood were trying to fork out, and she sure as hell looked gassed by the end of that passage of play. Sort of reminds me of Shane Biggs’ efforts in that 2016 Grand Final in the men’s – never forget that one folks. Davidson did end up taking a contested grab a few minutes later, but shanked her shot on goal.
But that sort of desperation sums up the kind of football that Brisbane are playing right now. If they don’t have the footy, they’re making it their mission to make life as uncomfortable as possible for the opposition and that can go a long way in Finals Football.
COLLINGWOOD’S BETTER PLAYERS
So it’s been a pretty Brisbane-dominant review thus far, so let’s talk some Pies.
Brittany Bonnici was Collingwood’s clear standout, with 28 disposals, five marks and three clearances, continuing her strong year in terms of strong gut running out of the stoppages and providing to be an outlet kick in defence. I won’t be publishing anymore installments to the rolling AFLW All-Australian side due to a couple of reasons, but when the final team gets released, I think it suffices to say that Bonnici is locked in.
Speaking of locking in All-Australians, I think Ruby Schleicher is another one who is as good as in at this stage of the season, putting in another strong game in the back half. Under pressure from the Lions forwards for most of the day, I thought she stood tall in a few plays, at times provided as cool a head as you can be and was working hard defensively as well all game.
Some kudos as well to Steph Chiocci, who I thought was working real hard as well to provide that link along the wing and half-back flank and finished with 16 disposals and four marks for the afternoon. On a day where her fellow co-captained struggled, she stood up brilliantly for the Pies at times.
Sharni Norder gave young Tahlia Hickie a real lesson in how to work around the ground as a ruck – ha, never thought I would be writing that one in a review. But full credit to Norder, because her willingness to improve around the stoppages has been well and truly noticed in comparison to her first season. Along with her 17 hitouts, she recorded 17 disposals and had four clearances to her name.
Just a quick one here before covering the other bits of the game, but I really, really liked Joanna Lin’s efforts in this one. In fact, I think she’s had a really good debut season considering that she was taken with the 26th pick in last year’s AFLW Draft and has played every game since round two.
She had a few nice little battles with Orla O’Dwyer on the wing early in the game, and then sort of played a role in the half forward line and managed to crumb the footy at the back of the contest a few times, only to be a bit unlucky and run out of real estate to actually kick a goal. She did manage to snag a long-range one in the last term in a crucial play, and got some nice luck with the bounce.
But I thought she was very lively every time she got near the footy, pressured well and got into a lot of right positions around the ground. If she keeps getting this continuity in her game, it is only going to serve her better for the long run: she’s already got the speed and the IQ to be in certain spots around the ground.
Can’t ignore Ally Anderson’s efforts in the middle, 26 disposals, 11 of those being contested, to go along with four marks, four clearances and four inside 50s. Emily Bates recording the nine tackles and five clearances shouldn’t go ignored either.
Feel like the Lions’ defensive unit needs recognition. Shannon Campbell kicked a goal in the first term and then continued to work away both with and without the footy, Nat Grider got back into some good form as well I thought, Kate Lutkins had a huge last quarter, intercepting a quite a few passages of play by the Pies, and I thought Indy Tahau showed plenty of promise in the air.
Jaimee Lambert had the 22 disposals, but I didn’t feel too impressed with her game. Showed good vision with the footy early, but that dissolved when Brisbane’s pressure was ramped up as the game progressed – only went at 55 percent efficiency, a lot of her kicks were rushed ones onto the boot.
Aishling Sheridan looking dangerous in the first and fourth quarters, but I couldn’t help but feel that she went missing in the middle of the game. Still, she finished with two goals, so it was far from her worst game.
Sophie Conway would’ve been best on ground at half time if two of those three behinds were switched into goals. She was everywhere in the first time and it must be said that two of those three shots were very tough to make, she did also set up Shannon Campbell’s goal in the first term.
Been a big fan of not just Lauren Arnell’s game in this one, but just her entire season in general. Her rebirth as a pressure forward has just been so brilliant this season and it plays a big part in the way that Brisbane really go about their footy – it was her pressure that set up the Lions first and then that smother on the wing shortly thereafter really did set the tone.
Good to see Maddie Shevlin come back into the team after a long injury spell and working her way back into form in the VFLW. I thought her soccer goal was a bit unlucky, had the right idea, just execution was a little off.
And lastly, I know I harp on about this a fair bit, but if Craig Starcevich isn’t coach of the year by the end of the season then there are going to be words exchanged with AFL house. The way he has turned this team around in the span of two years is just terrific. The way the side sets up their forward press, the standards that are set by him and the leaders of the club and the fact that players are so good at their roles are key to how well they’re playing.
We might’ve just got ourselves a taste of the Grand Final preview.
WEST COAST 8. 5. (53) DEFEATED GEELONG 2. 2. (14)
REVIEWER – THE SLUGGER
This game was always going to be a tough slog on a Monday. But for this Cats supporter, the task was only made more difficult as this game went on.
Both teams came in needing a win to boost their season, but only one would receive that boost. The Eagles wanted to put some space between themselves and the bottom of the ladder, particularly after their disappointing loss to arch-rival Fremantle last week. The Cats were desperate to claim their first win for the season.
The game started hot, but as the first quarter played out you had to notice the Eagles beginning to have their wat with the Cats. Even against the breeze, they looked the most likely team to score and were unlucky on a few occasions not to register a goal. Imahra Cameron and the Kelly sisters (Niamh and Grace) were everywhere and looked very dangerous.
The second quarter belonged to Imahra Cameron. She decided that she was going to take control of this game every time the ball as in her area. Showing off all the tricks in her bag. From the crafty forward play and positioning of an experienced key forward, getting out the back of her opponent for a chest mark to star and an easy goal. To some blistering pace and a marvellous snap from about 35 metres out to kick her second goal in a couple minutes. Then it was some serious gut running as she broke from a marking contest just outside 50, to take a towering chest mark flying in against the forming pack. It was the stuff of a vintage power forward. The next time the ball got kicked in her direction, there were three Geelong players surrounding her.
West Coast continued to gain more control as this game went on. They were too fast on the break and had a clear direction to bring the ball toward the corridor once they were out of defence, particularly looking for those 45-degree angle kicks. Geelong on the other hand, couldn’t break through the Eagles defence of Chantella Perera and Belinda Smith, as they bombed the ball in consistently to not much advantage of their forwards. A clear sign of West Coast’s dominance came in the form of uncontested possessions. The Eagles were +30 in this stat at ¾ time.
The two Kelly sisters must’ve felt like they were playing together in the backyard at times. Along with fellow Irish recruit Aisling McCarthy, the Irish contingent on the field was putting on an absolute clinic. At one point, I could’ve sworn I heard Brian Taylor in my head screaming about their local town, with what time it is and how their parents are watching right now, from there… Thank god it was just in my head and the commentators actually talk about the footy in this league, although we did get the “Gaelic football” background, akin to the old Scott Pendlebury “Basketball background” … But seriously, the Irish players provided the perfect foil for Cameron, and each other, as they consistently linked up. Niamh Kelly has got some serious marking ability for a player her size, and that pace in the last quarter, just burning off her Cats opponent. Grace has got a mean sidestep and I am seriously unsure if she is a left or right-footed player. Let’s just hope that that injury worry in the fourth quarter is nothing serious and she can finish the season strong.
Amy McDonald is one player who can hold her head high. McDonald led the Cats in disposals and tackles. A sign that she worked hard both ways, but sometimes, like a lot of her teammates, she just needs to steady herself with the footy. The Cats definitely should have done better in this game, they just need to clean up their ball use going forward.
A clear sign of West Coasts’ dominance came in the form of uncontested possessions. The Eagles were +30 in this stat at three-quarter time.
One thing I really enjoyed seeing was that crunching bump by Emma Swanson on Georgie Rankin. Not just because it was textbook, but because of hard she had to work to get over the to protect her teammate. Swanson had a cracking game in her own right, that was filled with good moments from her 21 disposals and eight tackles, but that’s the one I’ll remember. Where she busted a gut to lay a hard bump and protect her teammate.
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