The disjointed AFLW continued into Round Six, but before we get started with that one, there was a Tuesday night special we had to catch up with.

And by the term ‘special’, I am only speaking about the result. The game itself… well, it was a struggle.

 

ROUND FIVE CATCHUP

 

WEST COAST (2. 10. 20) DEFEATED ST KILDA (2. 8. 18)

REVIEWER – HB MEYERS

 

Was it a classic?

Nope.

Was it something you’ll watch again?

Only if you absolutely have to.

Was it the win the West Coast Eagles needed?

Absolutely, it was.

After over 300 winless days, the Eagles were back on the winners’ list and that meant only one thing for the Saints – the drought is set to continue. You see, this was the AFLW version of SpoonBowl and though it could have gone either way, this was a great lift for the Eagles and a devastating blow for the Saints.

Both teams had their chances but with four goals and 18 behinds between them, this was kind of a game that neither side really deserved to win. Alas, West Coast did win and head back home so that Dana Hooker can see her daughter. I really listen to the commentary a little too much…

 

INACCURACY

In a close game, you kind of felt that one side was going to be made to pay for their wastefulness in front of goal, yt the other team seemed to take this as a challenge, missing goals of their own. No team kicked a goal in the second half – let that sink in for a moment.

There was chances – oh there were chances, but with a wind blowing straight down the ground, both sides were simply unable to capitalise on it to the point where they could score. West Coast dominated the first and third quarters for possession and time in their forward half, but you have to credit the St Kilda defence for the way they bottled it up. Sure, they couldn’t get the footy past the halfway point, but they would not allow West Coast an easy avenue to goal.

When the Eagles did get an opportunity, they either failed to allow for the wind, or poked at the footy, hoping the wind would do the work for them. It was pretty annoying to watch, actually.

The only player that looked capable of kicking with enough penetration for her kicks to hold their line was Caitlin Greiser, but she was seemingly robbed of at least one of two marks she looked to have taken in the last quarter. Ah well, you win some, you lose… many.

 

THE KID COMING GOOD

I really enjoyed what I saw from Bella Lewis in this one, as she was able to work with the experienced duo of Emma Swanson and Dana Hooker to give the Eagles the drive out of the middle the Saints were lacking.

Lewis’ ability to get first hands on the footy is impressive and will become more dangerous once she develops a little more composure once she grabs that ball. She laid six tackles as well in this game – the third time this season she has registered five or more. Give her another 12 months, and she has the capacity to move into a starring role for this team.

 

A BAD DAY AT THE OFFICE.

I started to feel for Darcy Guttridge in the back half of this game. Nothing she did seemed to work, and you could tell her confidence was shot.

She spilled a couple of marks early on in the game and it looked as though it impacted her for the rest of the game. With the contest in the balance in the last quarter, Guttridge pulled up as the ball travelled to half-forward. This allowed Maddy Collier to charge through the contest like a rampaging viking, marking the footy and taking off as Guttridge and teammate, Catherine Phillips stared at each other, wondering where it went wrong.

You didn’t attack the footy or talk to each other – that’s where it went wrong.

Guttridge finished with six touches and no tackles, and will be pretty eager to put this one behind her quickly.

 

DANGEROUS TACKLES – UGH

I’ve written about it before and I will do it again, but some of these dangerous tackles that are being called are flat-out ridiculous.

Over the past couple of years, I have heard the term “Nanny State” bandied around quite a bit. In a lot of ways, this is where we’re at with footy – a player gets tackled and tackled well, the whistle blows and basically, the tackler is getting pinged for being good at her job and NOT letting go. Dana Hooker received two of these free kicks today – neither of them were genuinely dangerous tackles and one of them she actively contributed to by throwing her foot at the ball as she was falling backwards. In effect, she made it look a lot worse than it was and got a bloody reward for it.

These umps need to smarten up.

 

THE BIG GIRLS

I’m a bit of a fan of the ruck combination of Parris Laurie and Sarah Lakay, with Laurie always doing the hard work, and Lakay coming along nicely after an iffy outing a couple of weeks back.

Both of these girls use their bodies really well at stoppages, seemingly moving their opponents under the footy a little too easily. As time ticks by, you can see Laurie becoming more of a threat at either end of the ground whilst Lakay takes on more responsibility. The Eagles may have found a really nice combination, here.

 

THE HAVES AND THE HAVE NOTS

Watching the younger players in this one, it is clear how much the Saints are missing Georgia Patrikios and Tyanna Smith this season, particularly when you see Mikayla Bowen, Charlie Thomas, and Bella Lewis out there for the Eagles – you can see the young West Coast talent developing right in front of you.

But the Saints didn’t have that on display.

They debuted Ella Friend in this one, and she had a couple of nice moments, and Nicola Xenos was back out there, but I can’t expect too much from her coming back from a knee reconstruction. I’ll expect more next year.

The one that really stood out for the Saints was Jess Matin, who could have pinched the game for the Saints on several occasions, but missed on her snaps around the corner. She looked as though she was well aware she could swing the momentum of this game, but even in failing to get it done, the talent is undeniable. I hope she plays out the rest of the season.

 

OTHER BITS

Does Tilly Lucas-Rodd have a tattoo of a blowfly on her leg? I wasn’t sure it was, but if it was, I would love to know the story behind that one.

Nicola Xenos has the best tan in the league. I remember getting that tanned when I was younger… and had melanin in my body.

Really enjoying the attack on the footy from the West Coast bookends of Aimee Schmidt and Maddy Collier. I touched on Collier above, but Schmidt is a player that can make things happen, as well.

I so wanted Kate Shierlaw to hold that big mark she attempted in the second half. Man, that landing almost winded me!

 

And that’ll do for the catch-up. Fantastic to see the Eagles get up and head home to Dana Hooker’s kids with a win. As for the Saints, time to start thinking about drafting the best possible kid vailable, and hope like hell that Smith heals up and Patrikios is able to play again next season – I sincerely hope the latter happens earlier. She is a wonderful talent.

 

 

Onto Round Six

GOLD COAST (7. 7. 49) DEFEATED GEELONG (6. 2. 38)

REVIEWER – HB MEYERS

 

You guys are gonna get real sick of me reviewing games this week – how dare our other writers have lives!

Anyway, the Cats would have come into this game thinking they were a red-hot chance to grab another win, and judging by the first ten minutes, they looked every bit the better team.

The Suns were on the back foot in the first quarter, with Geelong’s power out of the centre and ability to lock the ball in their attacking half keeping Gold Coast on the back foot. However, this Suns team is one built on hard work. It might have been last season that the club adopted the phrase “challenge accepted” as their motto. Sometimes, there mottos mean bugger all – they look good, sound good and you can whack it on the end of twitter post because that’s what people do. But sometimes… just sometimes, a club actually embraces that slogan, and watching the Suns in this game, it would not surprise me if the words “challenge accepted” were written on a bit whiteboard in the clubrooms.

Let’s jump into some important aspects of the game.

 

STANTON SACRIFICE

So, I watched the Cats last week and loved the way Amy McDonald led the blonde ponytail mafia at Geelong. The way she attacked the footy, won clearances, and set up her teammates was a big factor in the Cats emerging victorious over West Coast.

I don’t think I was the only one watching.

Cam Joyce was keeping an eye on things as well, and decided to stop it before it started this week by deploying Jamie Stanton to do the job on McDonald.

The stats sheet says McDonald had 17 touches and was one of the Cats’ best. Mmm hmm… if you see that written anywhere, immediately discredit the person writing it. How many of McDonald’s touches were absolutely effective? I didn’t see many. She was under constant pressure whenever she got her hands on the pill, and Stanton was able to twist the knife just a little to run forward and get on the end of a goal.

This was a fantastic game from Stanton, who forewent her own game to stifle the Cats’ best mid. Yes, yes… McDonald looks like she had a good night at the office on the stats sheet- I would never dispute her desire to win the footy – she did that. However, watch the game, take note of the pressure she was under, and give Jamie Stanton her due – this was a ripping defensive midfield performance, and she deserves the credit for a job well done.

 

A DRENNAN-LINE

Crap… that was supposed to be a play on the word “adrenaline” but it sounded a lot better than it looked. Screw it – I am running with it.

Whilst much of the attention went on the battle of the young guns, Ali Drennan took advantage of the situation to register a career-high 30 touches en route to a best-on-ground performance. Her power running, clean hands and willingness to continually get to the next contest were a genuine highlight for a Suns team that seemed to rally around her.

 

TGL

Sounds like a shoddy electricity company, doesn’t it?

Well, sparks flew when Tori Groves-Little got near the footy anywhere near goal. Demonstrating excellent pace and acceleration off the mark, TGL kicked two goals on the back of hard running and could have had a third… or at least a goal assist. Instead, the blinkers seemed to be on and two teammates in space were burnt as the kick missed the mark.

It was great to see TGL back in the side after missing a couple of games. The dangerous forward presence inside forward fifty was something the Suns seemed to be lacking, but with Groves-Little back on the ground, it caused a sense of panic in the Cats defenders when the ball hit the deck. Throw in the work of Kate Surman, and the Sins have a decent little one-two punch at ground level.

 

PICK ONE V PICK TWO

I’m not sure we use numbers to assess this contest, as I am not sure they tell the complete picture.

Georgie Prespakis started the game like she was shot out of a cannon. She was the Cats’ leading disposal winner at quarter time and looked set for a big evening. In contrast, Charlie Rowbottom got off to a much slower start and started to wind up as the game progressed.

If we look at this like a boxing match, you’d give the first round to Prespakis 10-8, in the second, Rowbottom started throwing some of her own, and it was a much closer contest. Let’s give this one to Prespakis 10-9.

So, at halftime, Rowbottom looks to be in trouble, with Prespakis ahead on points, 20-17.

But then came round three, and Rowbottom’s hard work in the clinches saw her start to get on top. Prespakis looked tired and there were instances in the second half where she looked completely gassed. Had she given everything she had in the first half? It sure seemed that way. Rowbottom has Prespakis on the ropes heading into three-quarter time. We scored it 10-8 to Rowbottom.

The last quarter gave us more of the same. Prespakis was doing the boxing equivalent of holding on and hoping for the bell as Rowbottom continued to find the footy. If Prespakis did touch the footy, it was to little effect. 10-8 again, in favour of Rowbottom.

And so, your winner, on points, with a final margin of 37-36… Charlie Rowbottom! Nice work, girls.

 

SIT UP, TAKE NOTICE

That’s what the game of Claudia Whitfort yelled to anyone within earshot in this one. She collected eight clearances to lead all players, but her combative ability when the ball was in dispute showed just how valuable she can be to this outfit.

I have to admit, I was given a wake-up call watching her in this one. At 22, she looks great with the footy in hand, and her efforts to get from contest to contest were rivalled only by Ali Drennan. This is a building block for the Suns, and looks to be a bloody solid one.

 

OTHER BITS

If Viv Saad could hold a chest mark, she would have received much more praise for her efforts in this one. Her positioning was good and her contests in the air were excellent, but far out, when it hits you on the chest, hug it like you love it!

Also, if you could stop looking at the umpire and losing sight of what is happening in the game, that’d be good, as well.

I am still a fan of Rachel Burns (it’s Kearns, stupid!) even though she had a quieter one in this game. Her hip and shoulder bump in the fourth quarter made me smile.

Gabbi Featherstone is just 18, so this is more constructive than it is harsh, I hope. Mate, you can’t run around people like you did in the juniors in this league. I get you are backing your ability, but don’t try to beat every tackle – you’re getting caught and putting yourself under pressure all the time. Look for some support, and if it isn’t coming, demand it of your teammates.

A very solid game from Ellie Hampson. Another bash and crash worker for the Suns, this is her fourth game of the season with five or more tackles, and her six clearances were second only to Whitfort.

 

 

NORTH MELBOURNE (5. 7. 37) DEFEATED RICHMOND (2. 6. 18)

REVIEWER – BRETT HODGSON

 

On Saturday, in picture-perfect conditions, North Melbourne overcame a scrappy Richmond side to defeat them by 19 points. Both sides struggled to accurately hit the scoreboard and find consistent forward 50 entries, with that being said, North Melbourne won their fourth straight game- solidifying their place as finals contenders. For Richmond, their prime movers got them going, however, the class of the Kangaroos won out in the end. The third quarter onslaught was too much for Richmond to overcome.

 

CONTI VS KANGAROOS

In this game, Monique Conti almost played a lone hand through the midfield for Richmond, her influence was quelled for a big portion of the first quarter, as she was unable to find the space to operate in. The Kangaroos pressure was outstanding, as a turnover deep in defensive 50 led to the first goal of the game. Early on, Conti had Jenna Bruton for company around the stoppages, and Kangaroos unit as a whole, did a handy job with stopping her early, however after quarter-time she was able to find some space to operate in, and her speed and incredible evasiveness kept Richmond going forward. Conti finished with 25 disposals for the game in a great effort, as we have come to expect for the multiple All-Australian. Bruton tried to rush Conti’s disposal whenever possible, and somewhat limited the damage from Conti – however, she could not stop her getting hands on the footy.

 

KANGAROOS 1-2 1-2 PUNCH

The quartet of Ash Riddell, Jasmine Garner, Emma Kearney and Ellie Gavalas imposed their will in this game, controlling the midfield, while also showcasing powerful running to make life easier for their backline. The foursome combined for almost 100 of the Kangaroos 250 disposals for the game, however, they were nowhere near as effective with their disposal as they would have liked. Garner in particular showed very strong hands with her tackle evasion, yet quite often disposed of the ball a bit too early when she found space, whether that was due to a lack of talk or just perceived pressure I’m not sure, but against the better teams, the Kangaroos would need to be more direct. Riddell showed off her great running capacity and always worked to the middle of the stoppages, while also proving to be a very good release valve just off the back of the contest.

 

KATIE BRENNAN

The leader of the Tigers was absolutely tremendous in this game. Playing a lone hand at centre half-forward, the Richmond skipper kicked a goal from her 13 disposals and also took 10 marks. Covering a ton of ground, Brennan was an outstanding linkup option around the forward 50 and wing. Brennan also continued her much-publicised streak of goals, extending her run to a dozen games.

Brennan never gave up with her role, however, Richmond must find some way to help her out, frustrations clearly boiled over, as she appeared to lash out at Emma Kerney after a tackle, nothing will come of it, however, I believe this highlights her frustration as she commanded the forward line superbly, with little help.

 

KING DETHRONED

For those that look at the box score, you will notice that Gabrielle Seymour was not listed in the best players… Not only was Seymour’s game terrific, but she was one of (if not) the best Tiger on the field. Despite giving up 11cm to Emma King, Seymour was absolutely terrific and played almost as good a game as you can expect from an undersized ruck. Seymour fought hard for front spot at every occasion in the ruck contests, was very clean with her disposal, but was a big factor as an interceptor as well, tallying three intercept marks in the first quarter alone including two on the goal line. 16 disposals, 14 hitouts and eight marks in a great effort.

Admittedly, Emma King did some damage behind the ball as well, with three intercept marks, however spent larger portions of the game up forward, as there wasn’t a huge amount of stoppages in this game. Her defensive pressure around the ball was also outstanding, stopping a few Richmond forward launches.

 

QUICK TAKES

Rebecca Miller and Beth Lynch were vital in keeping the game respectable. Miller in particular rebounded at will, tallying nine first-quarter disposals and getting great support in the air from Lynch, her strong hands in the air reminiscent of her brother Tom. I believe we see Miller lock down one of the spots in the AFLW team of the year, as she has been tremendous for the Yellow and Black.

Daria Bannister is the type of player that will win games in crucial moments in her career. For being only 22, she showed moments of courage and high IQ, flying back with the football to cause a contest, but also laid a crucial shepherd to allow a clean inside 50 entry to Abbatangelo. The art of shepherding in the AFLW is rarely sighted, however, the players that can do it correctly will free up so much space for their teammates, as no defender is expecting to have to fight through a legitimate bone on bone shepherd.

In a bold call, I’m predicting Emelia Yassir to be an All-Australian within the next three years. Her pace is devastating, and I believe as the AFLW evolves it will still be foot speed that could be the biggest weapon of all.

Another down game from Brancatisano, maybe she needs a change of position or something, as she is struggling massively to get involved and lighten the load on the Tigers engine room.

 

 

MELBOURNE (6. 8. 44) DEFEATED GWS (1.1. 7)

REVIEWER – ALEX DOCHERTY

 

It was a routine job for the Melbourne Football Club this weekend as they accounted for the GWS Giants and made it their fifth win of the season to stay in touch with the ladder leading Adelaide Crows.

I’m a bit indecisive about GWS. They haven’t played a game since January 28th – 15 days in between games and that’s nothing to dismiss given how teams have come back from the Health and Safety protocols.

But as I watched the replay last night, I can’t help but feel that excuse can only go so far. This review will not be a pleasant one for the Giants supporters out here who read our content here on The Mongrel – I don’t hate the Giants (…much) but some of the decisions both out on the field and in the coaches’ box had me cursing several expletives as we progressed into the game.

Just how dysfunctional can one team be? I wrote a column about the problems at Carlton this week, but the Giants could be even worse. Too much is being left to too few in a number of key aspects around the ground.

The fitness and system that Melbourne have got proved that in the first three quarters and approximately 14 minutes when they managed to keep GWS scoreless up until the closing stages of the final term.

You read that right, scoreless – for approximately 95 per cent of the game, their score the lowest in the club’s history. Thank god for Jess Doyle thought, right?

 

GO WEST

I’m going to start with something nice for the Melbourne fans, with the game of Eliza West. Was she the best player on the ground in this one? Probably not, but I feel the need to give her big props for her game here.

It’s easy to pinpoint players like Tyla Hanks, Lily Mithen and Karen Paxman and claim that they were the best on the ground, they were all superb in this one. Hanks especially, who lifted after half time and was extremely prominent around the stoppages in the third term when Melbourne had all the play but failed to convert their opportunities.

However, West is the hidden gem amongst the elite setup of the Melbourne midfield. The Demons absolutely smashed the Giants in contested possession, +39 to be exact, and West was one of the top contested possession winners with 13 of her 20 disposals coming from contested situations, as well as six clearances to top it off.

The thing I loved about her game the most is her sharp hands in tight. As you may know, fast hands are so critical in football these days that if you’re able to fire out a handball to a teammate on the outside, it busts the play open and, on several occasions, West was the inside player getting the ball out and bursting the game open and it often ended with a shot on goal.

But it’s not just this aspect of her game that wins me over, it’s her work rate across general play that is making her stand out. There was a play in the first second-quarter I noted down, where West, after being involved in the initial contest, would push towards the next contest and lay a tackle and end up winning a free-kick as a result of it.

She was brought in through Melbourne’s VFLW affiliate, the Casey Demons after a very strong season last year, and after a round one debut, has grown with every game since then and is proving to be a very handy and capable player in this team.

 

THE MISMATCHES

So part of this is going to go on the coach and part of this is going to the players, you’ll see why shortly.

There were two key matchups in the Melbourne forward line that caught my eye in the opening quarter, and if you’ve been around her long enough, you know I love a good battle within a battle. Tanya Hetherington was matched up on Daisy Pearce and Pepa Randall on Tayla Harris.

Do you see the issue yet? If you don’t, here it is. Hetherington is a tall defender playing on a player that, while like-for-like in age, is smaller, I’ll say a lot smarter in terms of where to go and probably more agile. Randall is giving up maybe 10 centimetres on Harris and as she did on a few occasions, was allowed the space to run onto a ball in the air and if she didn’t stick the mark, she brought it to ground.

This is on Alan McConnell. There have been a number of decisions this season that has baffled me, but this may just take the cake. I liked seeing Libby Graham on Harris for a little bit, as I think she’s got the height and the athletic attributes to go with her, but that match-up was quickly and quietly nixed.

This is where it goes to the players, because despite the poor matchups, couldn’t help themselves either with sloppy play or bad decision-making skills. Hetherington went to ground too often against Daisy, and it cost the Giants a couple of goals, her kicking as well, incredibly poor, failing to hit targets from about 15 metres out – that’s a player who’s played a fair bit of football over the journey.

Randall, I’ll be a little less harsh on, because she tried her heart out and I love that she competes and niggles the opposition, but she also gave away a few clumsy high contact free kicks on Harris that didn’t need to happen, she could consider herself a bit lucky that two goals weren’t four goals, because Harris had a field day on her, you could’ve sensed it when you saw the match up at the start that this was going to be a problem.

But as I wind it back to the coach – he persisted with it for the whole game.

 

ON THE FLIPSIDE…

Speaking of mismatches, did you catch the match-up at the other end? Cora Staunton on Shelley Heath?

The Giants did have the game on their terms for a little bit, and when they did, they would try and look for Staunton, who has been their best goal kicker over the past few years, don’t get me started again on why I think this is a big problem.

I love Shelley Heath. She is my favourite Melbourne player in this side, Shelley Scott is a close second – I promise it is pure coincidence or it has nothing to do with the first name, it’s more about how they play.

What I love about how Heath goes about isn’t the fact that she comes from a sporting background as unique as Taekwondo, I mean that’s a pretty cool sport to come from, but ultimately, I couldn’t care less if she had background of shovelling horse excrement.

It’s all about what she does on the field and Heath does plenty, let me tell you. Despite the diminutive size, she is supremely quick and often gets relied on the jobs to take on and take down the opposition’s best small forwards.

Not so much on this occasion, Staunton probably gives away about 15 centimetres and there is some significant size difference as well to go along with that, but Heath just looked up at her and accepted the challenge.

The Giants only had the ball inside 50 17 times throughout this match, so the opportunities were limited, but every time the ball headed down Staunton’s way, Heath was matching her step for step and even got in a few very good spoils on her – she kept the aging Giants’ spearhead scoreless, which isn’t entirely an easy thing to do.

But that’s the thing I like about Heath, she has had jobs on very difficult players in the past and has always made those very difficult match-ups look easy.

 

THE ‘OTHER’ PEARCE

The GWS rucks got absolutely destroyed around the ground by Lauren Pearce in this game – I thought the pound-for-pound ruck work that Erin McKinnon did some nice things, but I’ve aired my grievances about her what she does following that for a while now, you don’t need to read about it again.

I can’t be too harsh on a player in her first year like Ally Morphett either, but I hope she took some valuable points here about how to play the ruck position, because Pearce is without question the best three rucks in the competition.

It’s amazing to think that Pearce does the work she does in very limited minutes – on average, she spends just under 61 percent of the game on the field, yet she averages numbers over 13.4 disposals, 16 hitouts and 4.8 clearances per game – her injury history has been well documented, and I think this contributes to the amount of time she spends on the ground.

She’s strong in ruck contests and often is grabbing them out and either distributing out to the running power of players like Mithen or Paxman or just looking to gain meterage by throwing it on the boot – I suppose it depends on the whereabouts of the stoppage.

Pearce had an equal-team best of six clearances and let me just say that rucks in the AFLW that can extract clearances and find another niche – whether that be as that loose defender a kick behind play, or a player that rest up forward and give you a goal per two weeks – are something that is slowly coming to the fore in this competition.

Don’t pay too much regard for the number of minutes she is sitting on the bench, just look at how she works in ruck contests, and you’ll see that it is nothing short of invaluable.

 

SO WHERE TO NEXT FOR THE GIANTS?

“Doc, have you got something, anything nice to say about the Giants?” I’m hearing you ask.

Well, I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel to find something, I don’t like to be a prick entirely about a football team, but with every missed handball Lou Stephenson did from two metres out, for every time Jackie Parry got let out the back with no Giant defender near her, and for every time they tried to lower their eyes and find a target, only for it to go over their head, it really does become nearing on the impossible.

Alyce Parker was very good early, and had a very strong game all round, frankly, it just feels like it’s her against the world in the middle right now and that’s something of a concern – Scott Gowans (new coach of Sydney’s AFLW team) if you’re reading this, do whatever you have to do get her out of GWS.

Chloe Dalton’s first half was very good, I love the speed she brings to this side and on several occasions tried to use it to break clear and try to bust the game open, but again, that stems back what I said basically at the start of this review about the Giants leaving too much for too few.

I have also liked the work of Ally Dallaway this season, she actually plays like she cares about this team. Her disposal is scratchy, but at least I’m seeing her out there and applying tackles, winning contested ball – 13 contested possessions is equal-high at the Giants alongside Parker and the eight tackles is a good return considering that Melbourne’s midfielders got out too easily at stages.

That’s probably all I’ve got to say on the positives. Players like Nicola Barr, Rebecca Privitelli, Katherine Smith, who have been in the AFLW for years are just passengers in a sinking ship.

 

OTHER BITS

Let’s start this by giving some appreciation to Ali Brown, who played in the VFLW on the same morning, and managed to play significant minutes in defence – worked hard every time the ball came her way and played her role dutifully.

The Giants need to look in through the corridor a lot more if they are to improve. The kick from half-back is a very important kick in footy, and the way they moved the ball all throughout was very conservative, just kicking the ball down the line at every possible occasion.

An extremely underrated game from Megan Fitzsimon. Led well up forward and her pressure was top-notch – led all players on the ground for tackles with nine for the match.

Haneen Zreika had some moments where she threatened to do something spectacular, but it fell flat when she failed to execute her touches, she wasn’t the worst on the ground, but was still thoroughly disappointing.

Chief Mongrel sent a message asking if it was fair to compare Libby Birch to Jake Lever. I like to think it’s a good comparison, they both read the play so well and are incredibly good at the craft of intercepting.

I do appreciate the game of Alicia Eva here, went down hobbling after two minutes into the game, but had her leg strapped and was out there doing what she could – 14 disposals and 7 tackles is a good return.

Speaking of masters of their craft, Kate Hore would have to be one of the best exponents of playing the front and centre crumbing forward – was found unattended many times playing the small forward and delivered them two goals – could’ve added a third or fourth in there somewhere too.

There were a couple of times where I found Brid Stack playing as a spare behind the footy and failed to impact the contest, not even a fingernail on the footy. She’s a player that looks lost of direction, and that’s me putting it kindly.

There’s something about Sinead Goldrick’s game that impresses me every time I watch a Melbourne game – early in the game, she was looking at taking the game on at every opportunity and given she’s got great pace, it’s something I’d love to see more of.

Jess Doyle’s third goal in as many weeks, and it was her only disposal for the game – I don’t think it’s through a lack of effort though – she did lay four tackles. In a functional team, she’d be thriving.

And with that said, that’ll do me for this review. The Dees take on Brisbane next Monday night at Metricon Stadium in what will be a mouth-watering clash, considering the Lions are finding some very good form at the moment.

Could it get any worse for the Giants? Scarily, it might, because they play the rampant Adelaide Crows next Saturday, although thankfully they will not have to travel to South Australia, as it’s in Blacktown – just their second home game of the season.

 

 

FREMANTLE (7. 9. 51) DEFEATED CARLTON (1. 3. 9)

REVIEWER – HB MEYERS

 

What looked as though it was going to be a tight contest in the first quarter turned into a blowout, with the home team Dockers putting on the jets in the second half, leaving Carlton in their wake.

Despite some early signs from Darcy Vescio and a very handy four-quarter performance from Mimi Hill, Freo had too many guns firing for the Blues, as they kicked away to control the tempo of the game from quarter-time onwards, adding six-goal to none from that point.

 

OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN

It seems that every week I write about Freo, their captain stands up and makes a difference. This game was no different, with Hayley Miller once again playing a standout role in the middle of the ground, particularly with Kiara Bowers still on the sidelines.

Miller attacked the ball hard, winning the first clearance of the game en route to eight for the game to lead all players. She consistently pumped the footy inside fifty and ran up some big metres gained numbers (600+) for the game.

She is now averaging 18.6 disposals per game and is +5.2 on last year’s numbers. Captaincy sits well with her.

 

GABBY O AND PRESPAKIS

This was a good little clash, and given Prespakis’ inability to have a significant say in the proceedings, you’d have to give the points to Gabby O’Sullivan.

Not that this was any sort of tight tag – O’Sullivan simply had the responsibility of matching up on Prespakis at stoppages, and was her equal in those contests. Gabby finished with 19 touches, four clearances, and six tackles, whilst Prespakis collected 19 touches, three clearances and five tackles.

Prespakis did take a nasty knee to the back and ribs courtesy of Gemma Houghton late in the game that sent her to the bench for a while, but she returned to continue the fight. It was an old-school move from Houghton, with Prespakis dropping into the hole, and the full-forward punishing her for doing so. Nothing illegal – just a good, punishing contest.

 

GEE WIZ?

Can someone explain to me why Georgia Gee, whose game is built on hard run, looks as though she is labouring out there? For a small running player, she sure looks to have her pace matched by plenty of others out on the park.

She was deployed in the forward half in this game and other than a couple of efforts, lacked any impact on the contest. Now in her fifth season, her stats say that she has had a marginal improvement, but the eye test tells us something completely different. Watching her in this one, I am not sure whether the heat got to her (pretty sure she was playing in the same temperature as everyone else), or whether there is more to this, but she did not look all that interested.

Sadly, she had a few mates.

 

STANNETT AND DELIVER

In the first quarter, Darcy Vescio gave Jess Low a bit of a runaround, using her footy nous to create opportunities and really could have had three goals on the board early. Darcy only registered one, but continued to look dangerous in the second quarter, though the footy wasn’t getting down there enough.

Still, a circuit breaker was required and Stannett did what she has done all season – she went in and disrupted the flow for Vescio. It wasn’t for the remainder of the game – just long enough for Low to reset, and once she did, she once again resumed responsibility for the Carlton star. I am not sure Vescio had a touch in the second half – that is how good the move of Stannett was, and the continued efforts of Low were, as well.

I did notice Vescio give up on the second efforts in the second half, obviously discouraged by the Blues’ inability to provide any assistance. With Nicola Stevens well held by Emma O’Driscoll, there were simply no other options for the Blues.

Stannett, Low, O’Driscoll, and Aine Tighe ruled their defensive half in this one.

 

MORRISON MAGIC

Mikayla Morrison has been threatening for a couple of weeks and it all seemed to come together for her in this one as she slotted three shots and could have ended up with a bag of four but for a miss late in the game.

At just 19, Morrison plays like someone who has been around forever. She is physical when she needs to be and knows when to sneak off and get separation from her opponent, and those skills held her in good stead in this game.

Her best came as the result of a magnificent coast-to-coast effort from her team, and a beautiful tap to advantage from Kara Antonio, who seemed to be involved in everything at stages of the game.

Freo will be thrilled seeing Morrison get off the chain in this one. It will give her belief that she belongs at this level – unless, of course, she was already well aware.

 

OTHER BITS

The Antonio show wasn’t quite as damaging as it was in the last few weeks, but there were still some pretty nice moments for the pair. Ebony’s mark was a classic, but there was a huge amount of luck involved, too. To fly for a grab like that, crash to the ground and have the ball simply land on you and not bobble off to the side – I think Andrew Krakouer put it best on commentary – you know it’s your day.

I’d like to see the score involvements for Kara Antonio in this one. She worked her backside off for her teammates in this one, and there’d be a couple who would owe her a coffee when the team gets out of isolation.

Is Daniel Harford in trouble? Having him taking a commentary position at this time reminds me of when Alan Richardson took on the role of fronting up to AFL 360 every week when the Saints were sucking a few years back. I am sure some at the club thought he should concentrate on coaching. I wonder whether there are any of those types at Carlton at the moment? They’re not exactly huge on tolerating coaches who are not performing.

Loved the game of Airlie Runnalls again this week. I think I have mentioned her in three reviews I’ve done this season, so she is definitely doing something right.

Mimi Hill’s return has been a highlight for the Blues. She was the only one to work for the entire duration of this game and remain effective.

I feel like I have shortchanged some players for Freo. Sarah Verrier was so good in defence. In the right spot at the right time whenever Carlton looked like threatening, she is a fantastic intercept player. Laura Pugh is another who seems to find the footy and the space to use it. I love what the Freo defence looks like at the moment.

And finally, hats off to Vaomua Laloifi, who took an absolute barrage of punishment in this game and, like Rocky Balboa, just kept on getting up.

 

 

BRISBANE (3. 13. 31) DEFEATED ST KILDA (4. 2. 26)

REVIEWER – HB MEYERS

 

I’m doing hard yards this week, and that is exactly what this game was – hard yards, for both teams. And me.

With a howling breeze at Trevor Barker Oval, the Lions failed to kick a goal in the first quarter, with the Saints kicking two, thanks to an inspired quarter from Mongrel favourite, Nicola Xenos, but when it was their turn to use the breeze, St Kilda found the idea of kicking with the wind a far more attractive option than the actual act.

It was a slog, with the Lions doing absolutely everything they could to lose this game, squandering multiple shots in the last quarter and leaving the door open. They even kicked inboard to no one in particular, which saw Catlin Greiser give the Saints one final chance.

In the end, it was the relentless pressure of the inaccurate Lions that dragged them over the line and denied St Kilda their first win of the season.

 

XENOS V ELLENGER IN THE FIRST

This was a highlight. Both these players were ferocious in their attack on the footy and each other, with several instances resulting in either goals or free kicks to either player.

Xenos was frantic to get the Saints off to a good start, and with three tackles on Ellenger in the first five minutes. One resulted in a goal with a holding the ball decision paid, another saw Ellenger receive a free kick for in the back, and the final one saw Xenos a little too eager to do take her opponent down, resulting in one of the two pathetic “dangerous” tackle decisions from this game. FFS, let the girls play – a hard tackle doesn’t mean it’s dangerous.

Aaaanyway, Ellenger switched off Xenos and back onto her throughout the contest, with Sharni Webb taking up the role of limiting Xenos. But while it lasted, it was a fantastic battle between two of the league’s young stars.

 

THE BATES LIFT

Some may look at the stats sheet and see that Emily Bates had only 18 touches in this game – it felt like so much more. Her best came in the last quarter, when she was consistently able to find the footy with the heat well and truly on.

Between her and Orla O’Dwyer, the Lions have two players who simply do not stop running. Both lifted in the last quarter and had a profound effect on the game as they pumped the Lions inside 50 (where they continually messed up shots at goal) and kept the footy in their own half.

 

HODDER PRESSURE

Just four tackles will go next to the name of Courtney Hodder in this game, but her pressure was through the roof, particularly in the last quarter. Her desperation to disrupt the opposition with little acts – a lunge, a hand on the footy, a tackle, a bump… they all made a difference in this game.

She looked to have kicked a ripping goal in the second quarter after dance-stepping out of trouble, but a touch off the boot robbed her of the reward.

Her play in the final stages of the game – repeat efforts to prevent a clean disposal for the Saints, and winning her own footy demonstrated her value to this team.

 

BODEY OF WORK

When the Lions were down, it was Greta Bodey providing the spark.

Despite missing her first three shots at goal, Bodey got the Lions up and running in the third to give them the start they needed. The way she worked from contest to contest was superb, and though she drifted out of the game, it was her doing the tough stuff when the Lions needed someone that stood out to me.

 

GOOD SIGNS

Despite a couple of marks taken against her in the waning stages of the contest, I liked what I saw from Ella Friend in this one. She held up well when she was slotted in as part of the Saints’ wall across half-forward when they had the wind, and does not seem to be easily flustered.

The number four overall pick was one of the few to start measuring her disposals with the wind, as well.

 

HIGH PRIESTESS

Loved the work of the St Kilda captain in this one. Her presence around the footy, and the way she makes every contest count. Whether playing off half-back or spending a bit of time in the middle, her composure is something a heap of players simply don’t possess.

 

OTHER BITS

Thank Christ someone played a goalkeeper role in this game. In the third quarter, sending the big swing in momentum, Nick Dal Santo did what I would do in every AFLW game and played someone on the last line of defence. Not on anyone – just guarding the space. Lo and behold, there was Kate Shierlaw getting her hands and fist on the footy more than she has at any other time this season.

This is not a criticism of the women’s game, so please don’t take it as such, but the girls lack penetration on their kicking, so having someone there to mop up makes absolute bloody sense. We saw it a little bit in the North v Richmond game and it was on display here – I reckon it saved the Saints two goals. Possibly more.

Speaking of penetration (no, I’m not going there), both teams really struggled to hit up a target when kicking with the wind, often shooting the footy ten or fifteen metres over the head of their target. As the game progressed, the teams obviously adjusted, but early on, it was no surprise that the team kicking against the wind was able to hold their structure and kick to position a lot better.

Dakota Davidson looked quite disoriented as she left the ground after a head knock in the third. She seemed to just be getting involved in the game, too, after being a complete non-factor in the first half. I’m actually not too sure Rhi Watt did much wrong in the incident  – she had a better play on the footy than Double-D, but I am sure it will be looked at because you know… head… sacrosanct… all that stuff.

Did we invent a new verb for the running style of Taylor Smith in this one? As she ran toward goal in the last quarter, I thought she was “giraffing” her way to goal. Copyright HB Meyers 2022.

Great to see Luka Yoshida-Martin kick her first goal in just her first game. Case to celebrate, yes, but she looked a little lost out there prior to that – the frantic nature of AFLW might take a bit of getting used to.

 

And that’ll do this one. The Lions got out of jail here – make no mistake, but I guess good teams win ugly… and this was about as ugly as it gets.

 

 

COLLINGWOOD (7. 4. 46) DEFEATED WEST COAST (3. 4. 22)

REVIEWER – HB MEYERS

 

The Eagles looked up for the fight in this one, but their scrappy, pressure-brand o footy didn’t hold up as the Pies used their run and spread to work over West Coast, and capitalised on some brain fades from the Eagles to run away with the win.

 

BRIT BRILLIANCE

Right off the bat – on behalf of Fox Footy and the idiot commentators, I would like to issue an apology to Bella Lewis.

It was claimed on multiple occasions that Lewis was given the role of a “hard tag” on Britt Bonnici.

No, no. no… that was not the case at all. If the experts were watching the game instead of just repeating the same thing the other person said a few minutes before, they would have realise that Lewis was responsible for Bonnici at stoppages. As soon as the tap was made, Lewis had no eyes for Bonnici at all. She was focused on the footy and her job was over for the time being.

So, what we should be looking at, if we are to assess the Bonnici v Lewis matchup is their work at stoppages, and that’s about it.

Whilst Lewis tried hard, the experience of Bonnici had her as the clear winner. She collected six clearances to be the number one player on the park. Lewis did have seven tackles, but her clearance work just wasn’t there – she had just the two for the afternoon.

Where Bonnici really killed the Eagles was on the run and spread. She found space continuously in this game and made her disposals count. Her tank is huge, her pursuit of the footy relentless, and her ability to find exactly the right spot to be the next option for teammates is equalled by very, very few in the league.

So, if you get the chance to rewatch this game, yes, by all means celebrate the work of Brit Bonnici, but don’t lay blame at the feet of Bella Lewis. It was just one facet of the game that she was responsible for Bonnici and shame on the experts for not having the smarts to walk things back a little and address incorrect statements.

 

THE START OF CHLOE MOLLOY

People have lamented Chloe Molloy’s start to the season, but if her first quarter of this game is anything to go by, her best is not far away at all. As a matter of fact, we may have seen some of it to start this game.

Molloy started in the guts and was instrumental in the Pies’ early good showing. Her clearance work was excellent, she pushed hard forward and was there to cover the defensive exits of the Eagles, as well. Bonnici may have been the standout performer, Lambert may have been more consistent, but Molloy was just as responsible for the Collingwood win as either of them. It was Molloy in the guts when the Pies needed a good start and that is exactly what she provided them.

The loss of Bri Davey this season has been huge for the Pies, but the lack of presence from Chloe Molloy has been just as damaging. She was present in this one, however, and if she continues to show up the way she did in this one, the Pies might end up coming home with a wet sail, making whoever draws them in week one of the finals more than a little nervous.

 

THE BURNS

I am not sure how to put this – at times there is a real sense of selfishness about this West Coast team. How’s that?

Three times in this game we saw players completely and utterly burn teammates to either go long, or have a shot at goal, and whilst we can put it down to over-excitement or inexperience, what these acts do is that they teach teammates.

And they teach them bad habits.

Why run to space and get open inside 50 if Imahra Cameron is going to have a ping from 40 metres out on a tough angle? She put it out on the full, for the record.

Why run hard to provide Grace Kelly a handball option when she is just going to bang the footy inside 50 without using you? There were two players entitled to ask the question about her decision in the second quarter (and the stats keepers were so disgusted that they didn’t even give Grace a stat for her effort as deep into the last quarter, Mr  Personality on commentary advised us she hadn’t had a touch. She had – it was that one). Between the three of them, they could have run the ball to 25 metres out.

And then, her sister decided to have a ping with two teammates waiting either in, or at the top of the goal square for a Joe-The-Goose. Luckily, Niamh kicked the goal, but it speaks of a side that is not playing team footy. Great teams work for each other. They use each other and bring each other into the game where possible. Poor teams have individuals that look after themselves, and that is a bit of what was on display from the Eagles in this one.

Remember when Tom Papley waved off a teammate in 2020 and ran all the way into goal by himself? It took a huge effort in 2021 for him to shake that “selfish” tag. I reckon that vision of him getting his teammate out of the way would not be the look he was going for. Nor should it be the look the Eagles want with options available.

I hope they learn from it when watching the review.

I should add that both Niamh Kelly and Imahra Cameron played good pressure games and the above should be taken as only a criticism of those instances. On the whole, I enjoyed Niamh Kelly’s work around the ground and the pressure of Cameron. That said, they both gave away costly 50-metre penalties, right? Eh? Eh???

 

OTHER BITS

I really rate Parris Laurie, but it seems as though she cannot clunk a mark in defensive 50. I don’t know what it is – around the ground she is really good, but it’s as though she is expecting contact when playing the intercept role inside 50.

Really good start to the game from Ash Hill, drifting across to cut off the Collingwood attack. As a matter of fact, the West Coast defence worked overtime in this one and did a pretty good job for the most part.

A lesser role for Ruby Schleicher this week, with the Eagles really attentive to her strengths. Whilst I think it is a bit of a stretch to say they worked their offence around her (a lot of it was kicking forward in hope), they did work hard to prevent her trademark run and carry.

Loved the hit from Ebony O’Dea on Grace Kelly. Really knocked the wind out of her and looked completely fair from where I sat.

Bella Lewis kicking the wrong way? Well, you can understand at the start of a quarter, but mate… this was ten minutes into the third. Surely you know which way you’re going by that stage?

 

 

WESTERN BULLDOGS (8. 1. 49) DEFEATED ADELAIDE (7. 6. 48)

REVIEWER – ALEX DOCHERTY

 

Where do I start with this game?

If you were to tell me when round one kicked off that the Western Bulldogs would roll into Norwood Oval, blow the unbeaten Adelaide Crows away in the opening quarter, lose two players by quarter time and go on to hold on and win by a solitary point in stifling conditions, I’d have asked you to recite the alphabet backwards, you were being that delirious.

The Dogs had not won a match on the road since round one in 2019, ironically enough, that was also against the Crows – so it’s good to see it all come full circle in a match that I can only describe as a first-ballot match of the year candidate.

It may also just be the Bulldogs’ best win in the six seasons they’ve been in the AFLW. Better than that game against Melbourne to get into the Grand Final four years ago, better than the game last year against Melbourne, where against the run of play, they made the Dees pay with their inaccuracy.

And yes, I’m prepared to say this was even better than the Grand Final win of 2018, and that was a biblical effort.

This was pure backs against the wall stuff – away from home, the Bulldogs lost first-gamer Aurora Smith in the opening three minutes with a serious knee injury and Brooke Lochland with concussion minutes after that but played some remarkable football to put four goals past an Adelaide outfit at quarter time.

For some context, Adelaide had only conceded an average of 15 points PER GAME, before this game happened. Remarkable to think that right?

Did the Crows fail to give the Bulldogs any respect in the opening term? Or was it more of those bad days that everyone seems to have. They were fumbly early, made a lot of uncharacteristic errors and some passages of play where they allowed the Bulldogs to slice through the defence way too easily.

The Dogs, 0-3 to start the year off, are now two games outside of the top six having won their past two games and the next month sees them take on Geelong, Gold Coast, Collingwood and West Coast – all of which are winnable.

But enough about fawning about the result, it’s special for the Dogs, it’s a lesson for the Crows, how about we try and break this down as best as we can, shall we?

 

HOW THE HELL DO YOU EXPLAIN THOSE LAST 90 SECONDS?

I’ve looked at the last couple of minutes of this game a fair bit since it happened in real time, and I’m not exactly sure if anything I write here can do this justice.

The Dogs were cooked, like they were struggling to run out this game, and the Crows could sense it, they’re a very fit bunch and as I was looking at the game unfold, you could notice that they were poised to bring this home with a wet sail – loose Crows were getting out the back.

The mark to Erin Phillips that was paid, I thought looked a little dodgy at first, but the slow-motion replay shows that it’s there – I’ve seen marks paid for less, and fair play to Phillips, she really stuck those hands together. The set shot was a poor one as it veered left.

From there, it was something that you rarely ever see, if at all in a football match – players among players converging around the one stoppage. The ball was stationed right on top of the goal square – a rushed point would’ve secured the Crows a draw and two premiership points that may prove to be crucial in the next month, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

It’s important to highlight the trio of Kirsty Lamb, Issy Grant and Elisabeth Snell in this last-minute – Lamb’s smother on Caitlin Gould after she grabbed the ball from the ruck contest was a game saver.

Snell’s tackle admittedly, was over the shoulder of Erin Phillips, but considering that Phillips had nearly single-handedly dragged the Crows to this position in the last quarter on the back of pure class and determination after a very ordinary first three quarters – it was a game-saving tackle.

And for Issy Grant to draw the free kick in the last 10 seconds – don’t ask me how the hell she did it, or how the umpire spotted it, but she was immense in making sure the Dogs didn’t concede.

Adelaide fans may complain about the free kicks or non-decisions, but that’s just how football can be sometimes and besides, it’s not that the Crows were shafted all game long, I reckon I counted at least seven times Adelaide players got away with incorrect disposal and there was most likely more.

 

THE MIDFIELD BATTLE

It was a crucial reason as to why the Bulldogs’ burst out of the blocks in the opening term and maintained it through the match.

Unquestionably, the midfield of Phillips, Hatchard and Marinoff are almost the cream of the AFLW engine rooms. But as I reiterated last week when I reviewed the Bulldogs game, we’re about to see the Bulldogs midfield take off, with Ellie Blackburn returning to form against Richmond.

The Dogs destroyed them in the centre clearance count in the opening quarter five to two, and by full time, despite the Crows finding themselves on top of the contested possession count, the Dogs still had the Crows beat in the middle 10-6. The Dogs I think have finally found that good balance of grunt and outside speed that makes them such a dangerous team to play against.

Phillips came to life in the last quarter, but for three quarters, was almost unsighted and second to the ball. Marinoff played a standout game – perhaps the best Crow on the park in this one, working her hardest to get out in space as well as winning her share of contested ball, and Hatchard got plenty of the ball, but her kicking was woeful in various parts.

Blackburn showed up her game last week against the Tigers with an even better performance in this one. There was an interesting stat by the legendary stats guru, Swamp on Twitter that Blackburn has had seven games where she has clocked up both over 20 disposals and has kicked at least one goal, you may scoff at this thought, but that’s not an easy thing to achieve in women’s football, but she does it so effortlessly.

I’ve touched on Lamb’s final minutes, but she had some enormous moments all throughout the game, but it’s Jess Fitzgerald that is quietly piecing together a big second year at the Dogs. Her poise around the stoppages and her decision-making skills were the things I noted down as something I was really impressed with, as well as her ability to spread in general play and find space – she’s turning into a special player in the middle.

 

SARAH ALLAN IS THE BEST KEY DEFENDER IN THE COMPETITION

If I’ve said this once this season, I’ve most likely said this a thousand times. Sarah Allan is just a marvel at her craft.

It’s true, the Crows’ defence as a unit conceded its largest score since 2020 when North Melbourne blew them apart, but there wasn’t actually much you could fault about the game of Sarah Allan. The Dogs looked to identify that she clearly impacts every contest she can get to – whether by spoil or by intercept mark.

In the first half especially, they looked to targets and isolate players. Marijana Rajcic gave away a free kick to Bonnie Toogood in the opening minute, they isolated Chelsea Biddell and Najwa Allen at times and it resulted in goals and Celine Moody’s mark and goal resulted in her being lined up against Eloise Jones.

The rest of the goals came from general play and it didn’t allow the opportunity for Allan to set herself up and impact these contests, in actuality, many of them ended up going over her head, which is pretty smart on the Bulldogs’ part.

However, when the Crows began to get the game on their terms, that was when Allan was getting involved. The Dogs lost their structure forward of the ball as the game progressed and I can only assume that was because of the tired legs, which is fair enough, but that allowed Allan back into the game and back to her intercepting best.

Allan would finish up with 11 disposals and five marks for her troubles and individually, played a solid game, but the scoreline shows that this Adelaide defence, almighty as it’s been all season long, can be beaten.

 

GREAT WHITELEY

I’ve paid some close attention to Lisa Whiteley for the past few weeks, just to see what she can add to this Adelaide team.

She looks a player that you’d pick with one of the last few openings in your 21, but then when you see the amount of work she puts in and you can see why she has retained her spot over the past couple of weeks.

I made mention a couple of weeks ago when I reviewed the Crows’ big win over Melbourne that Whiteley is a physical presence, if she gets a chance to put a player on her backside then that’s exactly what she will do.

But she’s picking up other things around the forward half, like positioning, her first goal was on the back of being in the right spot and Ashleigh Guest – had a few errors but played well overall – made the mistake of getting into her back when she didn’t need to.

She kicked her second goal – credit to Ebony Marinoff for the assist, because the kick was in favour of Whiteley, engaged in a contest with Katie Lynch – on the back of smart positioning, holding her spot until the ball finally got out of congestion.

Also, it was funny hearing Alicia Eva on commentary saying that she was kicking plenty of goals, only to have Kellie Underwood say she’s only kicked one only for Eva to shriek out a ‘REALLY?’ in response – I’ve got a strange sense of humour don’t ask how it’s come to that.

In fairness to Alicia, Whiteley has been playing some very good football in the forward halfl in recent weeks, and six touches might not jump out of the page, but it’s the manner of impact with these touches that she is getting.

 

THE KIDS WILL BE ALRIGHT

There’s no secret that the Bulldogs have got several first to third year players on their playing list, in fact of their 21 players that played against the Crows, nine of them have come from the 2019-21 AFLW Drafts.

I’d like to bring to your attention the work of two players, who weren’t necessarily stars of the show, but they both had a role to do in this team and they executed these roles well, the players in question are Issy Pritchard and Elizabeth Snell.

For those who have followed the AFLW content for a while on the Mongrel now, will know that I’m a big fan of how Pritchard goes about her work. If you give her a few years – touch wood on no serious injuries between now and then.

Allow me to explain, she’s got a lot of good athletic traits, can cover the ground the well and her height as well (176cm) means that she can pluck some very good marks – she showed all of that here, playing primarily on the wing.

Her skill set and confidence in her abilities are rapidly rising by the game, and I thought that this was the best game I’ve seen from Pritchard in her short career – 12 disposals – half of those contested – along with three marks and three tackles.

Snell is not a big possession winner and may not be as such throughout her career – but if there is one thing that I’ve seen consistently since her debut in round one, it is that she gives a lot of effort, doesn’t give up on a play and is just an out-and-out mongrel – Hannah Munyard learned the hard way at three quarter time.

There’s also a bit of inside gag here at the Mongrel between Chief Mongrel, myself and a few of the readers who make note of Sophie Abbatangelo having the best eyelashes in the game, but Snell might have something to say about that too.

But I’m all about what Snell does on the field as much as her chances in the Mongrel eyelash sweepstakes that seems to be going on currently and Snell’s contested work is something to be admired – her spoil that lead to Kirsty Lamb’s goal in the third quarter won’t get talked about enough, but I’ve got an appreciation for smaller players spoiling a bigger defender – and I’ve definitely picked up a big appreciation for Snell and her game.

 

OTHER BITS

How many more times are we going to see Bulldogs players clash into one another in their forward half? Lochland got herself knocked out because of poor communication and Nell Morris-Dalton got in the way of Alice Edmonds in the second quarter and what should’ve been a mark, resulted in Adelaide getting out of defensive 50 too easily.

Hannah Button’s skills were appalling, but her defensive pressure was outstanding – 10 tackles, nearly outweighs her very bad miss at the top of the goal square.

Naomi Ferres continuing to feature for the Bulldogs well this season, putting in another brilliant performance on the back of winning the footy in the contest and showcasing her sharp hands to the outside runners.

Teah Charlton put in a very good shift in the midfield – perhaps underrated considering the work that the big three midfielders put in, but Charlton linked up very well and won some important clearances as well.

An excellent game from Bonnie Toogood in this one – presented extraordinarily well in the early goings and her kicking for goal was on target, she’s stood up massively in the absence of Izzy Huntington and Morris-Dalton too, despite mentioning her just before, put in a very good shift.

Everyone knows that Danielle Ponter has got some tricks, but I can’t help but feel that the media overhypes her a lot – got caught trying to do too much with the footy a couple of times.

Katie Lynch’s intercept work, positioning as the intercept marking defender and attack on the ball has been brilliant this season – plenty of times where she went back to take the mark and made them stick for the most time – six marks, 14 possessions and four tackles in this one.

After being well held in recent weeks, Ashleigh Woodland got on the end of two goals in this one, a fantastic tackle on Eleanor Brown to set up her first and being on the end of good running play by the Crows for her second – the bounce and the ball drop were terrible – but six points is six points.

Nathan Burke might have said following the loss against Fremantle that it was the best game he’s seen Celine Moody play, but I think this game tops that. Pulled in several great contested marks and featured on the goals sheet for the second week in a row – finished with 11 disposals, 13 hitouts and four marks.

Saw the good and bad of Eloise Jones in this one – fumbled the ball a lot early and gave away a silly 50 metre penalty, but also showcased the skill and positioning that has made her one of the elite wing options.

And on that note, it’s time to pull up on this historic clash – a memorable win by the Bulldogs, but it’s got to be put in the rear-view mirror, because they play Geelong at the Whitten Oval on Friday night in a short turnaround, whilst the Crows will get a chance to rectify their errors with the ball when they take on GWS in Blacktown next Saturday.

 

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