The penultimate round of the 2022 AFLW season saw records tumble and three sides flex their muscles to shape up as the real deal as they look to secure a top-two finish next week.
Without further ado, the most comprehensive wrap ups in the game come as part of the Mongrel Reviews. Here are the Round Nine games.
ST KILDA (2. 6. 18) DEFEATED GEELONG (0. 9. 9)
REVIEWER – HB MEYERS
And so, on a Saturday afternoon, I checked the schedule and had a look at what games were left for me to cover this week… and my heart sank. Mind you, this was before a ball was bounced, as I saw the game was scheduled for Moorabbin, and a quick look out the window told me all I needed to know about how this game was going to play out.
Had you asked me before the bounce what I thought the outcome may have been, I would have predicted the team that kicks four goals would go on to win the game.
It turns out only half that amount were required, as the Cats shot themselves in all four paws with an abysmal showing in front of goal to go goalless for the entire game.
Not much in the way of highlights in this one, but I’ll give it my best shot.
OUT OF THE GUTTER-IDGE
Terrible headline, I know. I’m tired.
I’ve been relatively critical of Darcy Guttridge this season and there have been points where she has looked completely lost on the field, but when you give someone a whack and they come out and respond, it is incumbent on you to give them a bit of credit. Given that, I thought she was one of the few players to elevate her game in the windy conditions.
Her 12 touches and three tackles may not be anything that stands out on the stats sheet, but in terms of the eye-test, Guttridge did the right things at the right times, whether that entailed having clean hands at ground level, or making the right decision with the footy in hand.
There is no BS about the game of Bianca Jakobsson. She is very much a “see-ball, kill-ball” type of player, but on a swirly day, that is exactly who you need coming out of defence.
With 17 disposals, her intercept and rebound work was incredibly valuable to the Saints as she managed to keep control of defensive 50 when the Cats became desperate in the final stages of the game.
Like Jakobsson at the other end, McMahon once again demonstrated why she is held in such high regard in this game, positioning herself well to cut the St Kilda attack off at the knees with timely intercept work.
In an extremely scrappy affair (like this series of dates I went on once upon a time), McMahon was able to read the situation and put herself in the best spot to be effective (like a series of dates I went on once upon a time).
FAILURE TO ADJUST
One thing I have noticed about the women’s game this season is how quickly things tend to fall to pieces when the weather doesn’t cooperate. Not just in terms of skills, but gameplan, as well. Kicking to the boundary becomes a danger in these conditions, but there they go – kicking it exactly the way they would without making adjustments. I don’t blame the players for this at all; it is a combination of poor coaching preparation and, for many, the lack of skill to make the adjustments mid-game.
Listening to Kerryn Harrington on commentary was interesting, as she spoke about trading off the more clinical feel of playing at an established AFL venue with some protection from the elements to have more of a community feel. I guess we get to see what the organisation wants this competition to be going forward when they start making decisions on this matter. Playing at Moorabbin, or Casey versus playing at Marvel Stadium would have a dramatic effect on those players that struggle a little in inclement weather, but at what cost?
With talk of the timing of the AFLW season moving as early as next season, it will be very interesting to watch how the competition shapes in terms of slick v community feel. From where I sit, you cannot really have both, and if you want to move towards a professional league, some tough decisions may have to be made sooner, rather than later.
Apologies for a shorter review of this game. As mentioned at the beginning, highlights were few and far between, and though there were some “almost” moments in the last quarter, this game was a bit of a stinker.
RICHMOND (7. 4. 46) DEFEATED GWS (6. 2. 38)
REVIEWER – BRETT HODGSON
At Giants Stadium, Richmond needed every bit of their explosive first quarter to hold off a Cora Staunton-led final charge, winning by eight points in a bruising encounter, which included four reports and GWS missing one of their stars in the second half. It was a tale of two halves, with the third quarter providing some of the best pressure football seen in AFLW history.
Let’s take a look at how this played out.
OUT OF THE BLOCKS
To say Richmond got off to a flyer would be like saying Perth is warm in the summer.
Richmond welcomed back gun forward Courtney Wakefield, and her return paid immediate dividends. Allowing captain Katie Brennan to drag out her defender, that allowed great spacing for Wakefield to work in to, as she had the first two scoring shots of the game, missing her first, before booting truly on the run. Brennan (who apparently has some kind of goal streak going) tidied up a dropped chest mark to snap on the left, then followed a classy finish from Maddy Shevelin out wide. Throw in a free-kick goal to Kiely and an after-the-siren bouncer from Tessa Lavey, and Richmond entered the first break with a handy 30pt lead. The best first quarter in their history.
After quarter time, GWS turned the screws on the Tigers, however, they were fortunate that they had Sarah Hosking and Rebecca Miller patrolling the defence. Miller absolutely feasted on the GWS wayward entries, repelling attack after attack, whatever didn’t get to Miller, Jess Hosking swept up at ground level. Her pressure and attack on the ball was absolutely outstanding, as she rivalled gun onballerConti for BOG honours. Hosking not only showed a tremendous reading of the play, but also broke tackles at will. 23 disposals and seven tackles for Hosking, while Miller accounted for 12 disposals (all by foot) and seven marks. Unfortunately for Richmond fans, Hosking (at the time of writing) has been offered a two-week suspension for a bump that put star Giant Alyce Parker out of the game with concussion, with one game remaining she will also be out for Round One if the charge is upheld. For what it’s worth it was a completely fair bump, she was just unlucky as Parker had just disposed of the ball by hand and was unlikely expecting contact, and Hosking flattened her from the opposite side with a fair action bump, ultimately as Parker was unaware that made the contact have more impact.
A GIANT FIGHTBACK
Throughout the game, one might have said that Cora Staunton owed her teammates. Two times in the first half she looked toward goal just outside 50 and absolutely burnt her teammates who were in much better positions. With the fourth quarter arriving, so did the luck of the Irish.
The ageless wonder for the Giants rode a combination of skill and luck to get her side right back in range, booting three final quarter goals. The way she kept at it was truly commendable, as she was getting very frustrated with the poor delivery, but also having to contend with the aerial dominance of Miller and Lynch. I only use the term “luck” as she was able to kick her second goal while being tackled and utilising an Irish style “drop” onto the boot (completely legal) after wheeling around and kicking her first from 40m out, sparking the Giants. If they had a second legitimate forward then they might be able to milk another 10 years of football out of Staunton, as she continues to show that “age is just a number”
THE PRESSURE COOKER
The third quarter can only be described as an absolute slugfest. Both sides going hell for leather in a pressure-packed quarter that was blow-for-blow – the AFLW equivalent of Ward vs Gatti in the 9th round (look it up)
After Chloe Bernardi goaled with a 50m penalty and Katie Brennan restoring the Tiger lead to 31 points, that seemed to light a fire inside the Giants. Led by Erin Mackinnon, they stepped up to the plate and brought some much needed physical pressure, to their credit, Richmond fired back- and both sides gave viewers an absolute show. Some highlights included a massive hit on Jess Hosking by Katie Loynes, only for Monique Conti to run her down minutes later.
RANDALL VS BRENNAN
For what it’s worth, despite Brennan booting 2.2 from 6 disposals, Randall played her tremendously. With the AFLW lacking anything except the most basic statistics, all I can confidently say- without personally recording things like “pressure acts” and “one percenters” Pepa Randall played her heart out, and largely won the matchup. Brennan did kick out of her goals from a “holding the ball” free on Randall, however, she was lucky to get that, as Mckinnon was stiff to have her own free kick for a crunching tackle called “play on”
Brennan is a great forward and a solid leader, however (and I might be wrong) I can see why Richmond could prefer her up forward vs in the midfield…
She is at her most effective when she plays “on the line” she can niggle and scraggle and the consequences of it not paying off deep forward are much more nullified, however, if she was in the midfield, the consequences would be a lot more telling. Early on she was guilty of a blatant shove on Randall when she was already out of bounds, lucky for her she was not on the shitty AstroTurf boundary layer strip that has claimed many an ACL.
The rebound and aerial defence of Randall was outstanding, however, she also won a crucial 1v2 in defensive 50, with two Tigers converging on a loose ball, she pulled off a remarkable diving punch to knock the ball out and set Zreika on the counter attack.
There is really nothing more I can say about Monique Conti that has not already been said in 2022 so please forgive me as this part is quite brief…
You could argue that no other player has had to shoulder a bigger load, yet it seems she is going from strength to strength.
When the Giants lifted, so did she- ensuring her midfield met the upcoming challenge head-on. Once again her shiftiness and work rate were outstanding, while also working through an apparent thumb injury she suffered early on, and while her disposal does let her down at times, she still has been almost impossible to stop. For GWS, they decided that the best defence was attack, and that came in the form of Bec Beeson
Accumulating a career high 31 disposals, Beeson was a constant menace around the stoppages, feeding off Mckinnon and getting the midfield moving with clean hands and silky movement. Especially once Parker was ruled out, that’s when Beeson lifted in the clinches.
I know she is only young, but Ellie McKenzie seemed to really dislike the physical pressure with ball in hand, especially when Alicia Eva moved to her in the second quarter, she did respond with a few tackles, however, appeared very hesitant in getting in on the inside, perhaps a smart move with Erin Mckinnon in the vicinity.
Brid Stack was an absolute weapon in this contest, combining well with Zreika at half back, they really came to the aid of Randall after quarter time, Zreika looked very composed- even taking a mark going back into the hotspot to cut off a Wakefield lead. Stack’s run out of defence bought GWS to life, kicking a goal in the second quarter, however, as the adrenaline started pumping she occasionally overlooked the first option, extending things out a little further then optimal.
I absolutely loved the cleanliness of Akec Makur Chut at ground level, I believe she will be one of the big improvers in 2023 as she gains more confidence as she is becoming more accustomed up forward. Learning off Wakefield in particular will be a valuable resource.
Massive respect to Jess Hosking, who played through the majority of the game with her head and nose wrapped up like she was just pulled from a tomb. What’s even more remarkable is that it didn’t appear to affect her cardio at all, as she only seemed to slow down to get running repairs. Heart and Soul…
Great way for Emily Pease to kick her first goal in AFLW, absolute textbook chicken wing tackle, finished off with the goal it deserved.
Well, I kind of saw it a bit, particularly with the outs that Freo had, but a walloping like this saw the Dees make a real statement – they are in the frame for the club’s second flag in six months. After very, very long drought, two Grand Old Flags could be headed Melboune’s way in six months.
Dees fans… please don’t start getting smug if that occurs – you’re better than that and the footy public has had enough of that in recent seasons. Stay humble..
Freo were competitive early, but it was like trying to hold back an avalanche. Gemma Houghton looked dangerous, but has just one speed and possibly two moves in her arsenal (not a typo) which are pretty quickly nullified by playing someone on her that is able to match her pace when she turns and runs for home. This led to Houghton hacking the ball as soon as it became apparent she was not going to shake her direct opponent. Hayley Miller battled her well-manicured eyebrows off but she was crushed under the weight of a Melbourne team with too many stars firing at the same time.
The Dees became the first team to top 100-points in an AFLW game and Freo are now looking down the barrel of playing away finals, which could completely dissolve their premiership hopes.
THROWING ROCKS WHEN THE OPPOSITION HAS MACHINE GUNS
That’s how it felt watching this game – the Dockers were completely and utterly outgunned.
Sure, they reared back and tried to pelt the armoured vehicle that was Melbourne team, but whatever they were able to conjure simply seemed to mildly irritate the Dees, who would respond with the heavy artillery, rendering Fremantle looking for cover.
Daisy Pearce had five goals to three-quarter time, Kate Hore was elusive and continued to prove that she is the best footballer in her family (her fella is the brother of Collingwood’s Brayden Maynard and he has never had an AA selection. Hore will have a second one in a few weeks’ time), and Eliza West continued to bruise and batter anyone that decided they could bring her down in a tackle. Her ascension in 2022 has been wonderful to witness.
To give an indication of the dominance, we can use stats… not because I am a geek, but because this is as close as it gets to obliterating an opposition on paper. Of the top 13 disposal-winners on the ground, 11 belonged to Melbourne. Fremantle were just completely overmatched at every contest. Of course, they tried, but they failed miserably.
PREMATURE WRITE OFF
Have you ever written off your car? I did, because I thought the 21-yar-old me was some type of financial marvel that discovered a loophole in the system. I drew on my own third-party insurance after a relatively minor accident, pocketed five grand and continued to drive the car. I thought it was a perfect crime.
And then the notice came that my registration was to be cancelled due to the car being unroadworthy and I had to buy another car. Pity I had already spent some of the money. Hard times for a stupid young man.
I learnt a valuable lesson at that point in my life – don’t be too quick to write things off. What a segue… give me the Alf Brown award now, damn it.
Here is a lit of the players missing for Freo in this game.
Kara Antonio, Ebony Antonio, Gabby O’Sullivan, Kiara Bowers, Emma O’Driscoll… those players are amongst the best the Dockers have to offer. It would have been like the Dees losing Daisy Pearce, Karen Paxman, Tayla Harris and… well, someone else. It changes things drastically. Does it change it enough to turn 88-points around?
Hmmm, that’s a stretch, but I don’t think we see a demolition like this with those players in the team.
Write off Freo at your own peril.
MY, MY, MY… ELIZA
Tom Jones is not the type of man to sue for bastardising one of his songs, is he? I sure hope not!
I’ve been meaning to give a bit of a wrap to Eliza McNamara for a few weeks now, but it seems that every time I cover a Dees game, she has a quieter one, so this is more of a cumulative pat on the back than one for just this contest, alone.
What she provides to the Dees is similar to what Ed Langdon provides the male version of the Demons. She runs her heart out to provide options up and down the wing and is consistently charging from one contest to the next. There is hardly anything of her, to the point where I reckon on a windy day at Casey, they may have to weigh her footy boots down so she isn’t blown away, but she is surprisingly strong and able to both fight through tackles and lay plenty, herself.
Her 16 touches and five tackles were just another day at the office for her, but at just 19, these days at the office are going to be more and more productive. The Dees are using her perfectly, and she could not have meshed with their system any better in her two seasons in the league.
Prediction – by the end of next season, her name will be alongside that of Orla O’Dwyer and Cathy Svarc when people talk about the hardest runners in the game. Different types of running, but still just as impressive.
Stemming from the chatter about McNamara above, the fact that the Dees have a weapon the likes of Alyssa Bannan at their disposal is bloody scary. Yes, she is a runner by trade, and she has used her main weapon as a way to completely distance herself from those around her when she bursts from a contest.
Watching her, Lily Mithen, and Casey Sheriff turn on the jets, whilst their Freo opponents seemingly lagged behind further with every step gives a great indication as to how well you need to be set up to counter Melbourne’s charge. They have some athletes on his team.
I know that the Dockers were whacked, and as such, I shouldn’t devote a heap of column space to their performance, but a few things jumped out at me as the game progressed.
I loved the inside fifty pressure of Makaela Tuhakariana. She was probably robbed of a holding the ball free kick in the goal square in the last quarter, but the coach would be rapt with her repeat efforts.
Airlie Runnalls was handy, but needs to work on some explosiveness from stoppages. She has good hands and hits targets by hand (rarer than you’d think at this level) but is one-pace at the moment. Then again, so is Ash Riddell at North – maybe there is a chance for Runnalls to pattern her game on that of Riddell?
Maybe it’s the Bunnings ads, but I really like Tyla Hanks. Her handball creativity and ability to hit targets make others around her look better. That’s about as big a compliment as you can give midfielder, I reckon.
Also, Bunnings snags rule!
It’s pretty difficult not to be impressed with Tayla Harris this season. I know she has her detractors, but the best way to answer is always by playing good footy. She has answered in a big way this season – a couple of goal assists to go with her three goals in this game.
It’s almost unfair that the Dees picked up Harris AND Liv Purcell his season. This was by far Purcell’s best outing as a Demon and she could play a vital role with finals looming.
When you see players taken out of their element and asked to do more, it can either be eye-opening, or the type of situation were you turn your head away. A few were asked to do more in this one, particularly in the Freo defence. I think it is fair to say that as key players, some of the Freo defenders make great support talent.
As if kicking 100-points was not impressive enough, the Dees’ forwards and mids completely nullified any run for the Freo defence. I reckon I saw players like Ann Stannett or Tiah Toth in space maybe twice for the contest. That is commitment to the cause from Melbourne as a whole.
WESTERN BULLDOGS (10. 8. 68) DEFEATED WEST COAST EAGLES (1. 2. 8)
REVIEWER – ALEX DOCHERTY
After what was a disappointing result for the Western Bulldogs last weekend against the Pies, this loomed as both a must-win game for the Bulldogs to keep their slim finals hopes alive and a statement game against an Eagles side that have struggled for consistency this season.
Consider the statement made, as their first six-day break in forever meant that the Dogs could play a more consistent brand of football and gave the Eagles yet another reality check in season 2022.
With the Eagles playing North Melbourne next weekend, they are staring down the barrel of the wooden spoon this season. Injuries have not helped the cause this season, but there have been way too many passengers around the contest and the connection between the midfield and the forward line has been left wanting too many times.
Our resident Eagles man Daniel Jon Kershaw has been traumatised to the point where he’s eagerly awaiting the arrival of the best WA talent in the Draft this year in Ella Roberts in the hopes that the young girl that can resurrect this Eagles’ team in the new year.
Patchy is how to describe the Eagles, good in five-minute bursts and would then play catch-up footy and chase backside for about 20-25 minutes.
It was a big win for the Bulldogs, the 60-point margin, the highest winning margin in the history of the club, regardless on whether they play finals or not, is a good step in the right direction heading into 2023.
Nathan Burke said during the three-quarter time interview on TV that he wanted to see killer instinct… well these girls showed that they got plenty of it and permitting that the list stays together during the expansion, they’re going to cause problems in 2023.
Oh, and for God’s sake, play more games at boutique stadiums like Optus Stadium next year.
INSIDE AND OUTSIDE DOMINANCE
Is the term ‘one-paced’ a good way to describe the Eagles’ midfield?
Apart from Niamh Kelly, who made a great run through the wing in the third term, the Eagles don’t have many players that carry the line-breaking pace that players like Ellie Blackburn or Kirsty Lamb. Emma Swanson tries her heart out and manages to break clear, but there is no burst of speed when she breaks from a stoppage.
The Dogs dominated in a lot of key statistical areas in this game, but the one I’d like to talk about is the uncontested possession count. Against Collingwood last week, it was found wanting at times and the Pies made them pay for it the other end, but this time around, the Dogs were the ones who were finding overlap run and at the heart of it of course, was the pair of Blackburn and Lamb.
Lamb lead the game for contested possessions with the 11 for the game, but found that break out of the stoppages quite easily at times in this game, and Blackburn had a couple of shots that went veered off for minor scores, but geez, she makes it look very good right? No, Gillon, I’m not going to use the term sexy to describe that.
The Dogs were +65 in uncontested possessions in this game and doubled West Coast’s mark tally 78-39, but I suppose it goes without saying, to win it on the outside, you’ve got to get from the inside, and the work of the star pair, alongside Elisabeth Georgostathis, Jess “Freakin” Fitzgerald and a few others, all helped drive the Bulldogs to a big differential in contested ball, +27 to be exact.
The Eagles did lose Dana Hooker before halftime with a bad shoulder injury and was working towards a good game, but like many of the struggling sides this year, too much is being left to too few.
THE GREAT BULLDOG WALL
This Bulldogs defensive unit has received big wraps all season long from me, and this game will provide no exception, because they were terrific again.
Despite no Ellyse Gamble in this team, they operated quite smoothly and were able to intercept and repel the ball out of the defensive half with some smooth switching of the play to outwork the Eagles, it was a large part to why the marks and the uncontested ball were well in the Bulldogs’ favour.
The West Coast forward line is a mess yes, but they still managed to concede just eight points 17 inside 50s, and they had some moments throughout the game where it looked like they were going to score, only for the unit as a whole to stop them right in there tracks and rebound it the other way.
Between the trio of Katie Lynch, Issy Grant and Eleanor Brown, the three combined for 22 marks, and I’d wager nearly half of them were intercepts.
Since coming across from the Pies, Lynch has made enormous strides in her development as a player, both in skills and in confidence and this game may have been the best game she’s ever played.
All the elements required to be that intercept marking defender fell into place for her, the smarts, the poise to hold the mark going back in flight and the decisions she made by foot to start the ball movement once again, it feels like the complete intercept defenders game.
Issy Grant had her best game of her career too, like Lynch, the confidence of her to back herself to intercept or impact the contest has grown tremendously over the course of the season, and we’re finally seeing her back herself in to nail kicks on the 45-degree angle to help open up the play and allow the runners to move the ball with more fluency and less fumble, stop and prop footy.
And as for Elsa, well, she’s had some lean weeks in terms of impact defensively, but this was a return to form from early in the season. She’s proven herself well in the air and also has proven herself to be a force at ground level, looking to her receivers.
THE YOUNG GUN OF THE WEST
I like Bella Lewis a lot. This year may not have been her year in a season when players in her Draft class are starting to really flourish – players like Fitzgerald, Alyssa Bannan, Teah Charlton and Zimmie Farquharson come to mind, but there are very few players that can put her head down and goes to work quite like Lewis.
There was a reason why she won the Eagles’ best and fairest in her first year last year, and part of it was because the Eagles’ injury list was hit pretty badly, but another part of that was because she was exceeding expectations for a fresh-faced teenager in her first year. Clearances and contested possession is her wheelhouse and she has never been one to shirk from a contest.
If captain Swanson is the master, then there is no doubt that Lewis is the apprentice, in fact she may already be past that, because she is already that established of a midfielder.
It was a tough night for the midfielders, as explained above, but Lewis battled hard in a midfield that looked depleted. The presence of Aisling McCarthy is missed a lot, because it allows a little more flexibility in terms of midfield options to extract the ball out of stoppages.
Lewis’ work around the contest has to be commended, regardless of the result, because she didn’t stop trying for most of the night. The defensive pressure was sound, laying six tackles in this game, but also 18 disposals, 10 contested possessions were a team-high, as she was found at the bottom of packs a fair bit, doing her bit for the cause.
The next phase to her game is finding the outside run and polish to set up the forward 50 entries, because the Eagles are really missing some players in that regard.
It’s been a tough couple of seasons for Brooke Lochland, so many injuries, so little game time – damn it, you AFL House gremlins, make the seasons longer!
The injuries/health and safety protocols this season Lochland has had to endure have made it nigh-on impossible for her to really make an impact on games. But this one was perhaps one of the more complete performances I’ve seen from her since her 2018 year, which saw her take out All-Australian.
With the likes of Issy Pritchard, Bailey Hunt, Elizabeth Snell and others primarily taking up the wings this year, it’s allowed Lochland to move back into the forward line, and when she is up forward, she becomes a very hard player to try and negate, especially when the ball comes back with monotonous regularity.
She started the game well with her forward pressure and tackled well and by the second quarter, found some reward for effort when she was handed a 50-metre penalty which lead her to the goal square for her first of three goals in this game.
Her capitalisation on the Eagles’ errors meant that she helped herself to three goals for the match in a very nice return. Her second goal exemplified this when she was front and centre on a terrible spilled mark by Courtney Guard – got to stick those marks in footy, and Lochland – as she has done in past games, made her pay big time.
Lochland finished with 3.1 from 15 disposals, five tackles and three marks in what is easily her best game this season.
Without Izzy Huntington in the team, queries have been made all year about what was left of this forward line, but the Dogs are proving every week that they can find the avenues in her absence, but just imagine a forward line with Izzy back in the team though, just for a moment – it’s scary isn’t it?
It’s not a well-known fact that our Eagles operative Mr Kershaw is a big fan of Evie Gooch. Okay, that’s not true, he can’t go an Eagles game without saying things about her I will not repeat on here.
But I was taken aback when I read in the Mongrel Chat last night that Gooch played well. I revisited her game individually on repeat, and I completely agree. This was one of those performances where if it wasn’t for her in the way, that 23-point halftime lead would’ve been much more.
There are criticisms with how Gooch plays; too slow, can’t kick and too physical in one-on-ones are things I have often referenced when I watch her play, but she positioned herself well and looked to be the rebounder coming out of defence.
Out of her 22 disposals, 20 of them were kicks and recorded 430 metres gained, the most of any player on the ground. I guess it goes up in smoke when the ball comes back inside defensive 50, but what else can Gooch do when the forwards are giving her absolute donuts to kick to?
There were moments where I saw her play further afield and tend to stoppages, and whilst I gave it some thought about the idea of a big-bodied midfielder through the guts, it doesn’t exactly answer the call about the Eagles’ midfield having that dynamic player that can burst out of stoppages.
But it’s good to see her play a good game this season, she’s had some games this year where it would’ve been easy to slap the ‘Don’t come Monday’ phrase on her.
A very enjoyable duel between Bonnie Toogood and Sophie McDonald (what happened to your mullet?) all game long – Toogood finished with two goals, but McDonald was far from disgraced, aerial contests were very good.
Loved Parris Laurie’s game across general play, deployed herself as a spare behind the footy a lot and took some important marks in defence and was tough around the contest, which is great stuff from your rucks.
A good response from Bailey Hunt after getting dropped last week, linked up very well and looked to have utilised the space of Optus Stadium perfectly, quite at home as some would say.
Whilst Katie Lynch was running amok in the defence for the Bulldogs, what was Andrea Gilmore doing in this game? Only four disposals, no score, no impact on the contest. Passenger.
Arguably the best game I’ve seen out of Issy Pritchard so far this year – she’s enjoyed a breakout season, but the confidence to take the game on, burrow in on loose footy and to hit her team mates on the angles are the most pleasing things out of this game. Took some nice marks too.
My prediction of Charlie Thomas to win the Rising Star award has blown up in my face, has not looked anywhere near what she was producing in the pre-season. Started promisingly in this game but tapered away as the game progressed.
Another player that’s picking up confidence is Nell Morris-Dalton, another two goals from her in this game and is looking more and more confident with her leading patterns, her set shot routines and just overall natural ability.
Belinda Smith is another player that started the game off very well with her drive and rebound off the half back flank but struggled to impact as the game went on.
I’ve been highly critical of Gemma Lagioia this season, but her forward pressure in this one was very good. I think she might have finally turned the corner in terms of finding that ability and finding moments to make an impact.
Not many wingers can tackle with the ferociousness that Mikayla Bowen can. Laid some wonderful tackles, a few of them running from a few metres behind too. Didn’t get a lot of the footy, but certainly worked hard.
There was some good and bad in Deanna Berry this week – botched two horrible kicks when they could’ve easily have been goals, but found a bit of the ball, kicked a ridiculous goal from the pocket and set up Lochland’s third goal of the match.
Hayley Bullas’ goal in the third quarter was terrific front and centre-work. There were plenty of players that couldn’t get near the footy, but I thought this was a solid effort from her, tackled well when they didn’t have the footy either.
The Dogs looked as if they played Elle Bennetts on the wing a bit more in this game and looked quite comfortable in holding width of the ground and getting on the end of good uncontested possession work – needed a good game this week and did well in her role.
Loved the tackling from Mel Caulfield too, particularly in the second half, when the Bulldogs started putting more goals on the board, Caulfield’s intensity lifted around general play.
And with all of that said, that’s me wrapping up this game, the Dogs are still in with a sniff, but they need to beat a white-hot Brisbane side next week in Ballarat and hope the Pies drop their game to Richmond in the process.
As for West Coast, well, I hope Ella Roberts can turn your fortunes around next year – I’ll be covering the AFLW Draft with some more depth for The Mongrel during the year, but some early glances of her footage, she looks like she can add plenty to the side, that’s if it doesn’t lose players to expansion.
BRISBANE (7. 8. 50) DEFEATED NORTH MELBOURNE (2. 2. 14)
REVIEWER – ALEX DOCHERTY
We saw a similar situation around this time last year with the Brisbane Lions; being forced to relocate a home game from Queensland to Victoria as a result of a crisis situating up North. Against the odds, they stuck it to Collingwood at Whitten Oval and break their unbeaten start to the year.
This time, with the floods happening in Queensland (best wishes to everyone affected up there), the Lions were forced to come back to Whitten Oval for a home game – apparently, Cairns has been unaffected, why not play there? But I digress.
The Lions have been red-hot since their loss to Melbourne a couple of weeks ago, they set themselves up for a (then) record-breaking score on West Coast in Perth in the opening half last week and did a similar number on a North Melbourne side this week. They’re cherry ripe for their premiership defence.
It’s thoroughly disappointing if you’re a North supporter, because for all the talent on hand, they have historically crumbled under immediate pressure. Sure, there have been wins against Collingwood and Fremantle, but the Pies are basically on crutches towards the end of the season and they took on the Dockers at the tail-end of their condensed schedule.
Considering what’s going on with Fremantle at the moment, North are almost certain to lock away a home final in the first week, but the way they play and try to move the ball, they almost look as if they’ll be taken out in the first week.
Let’s break this game down
ERRANT BALL MOVEMENT
I’ll get to what Brisbane did right shortly because part of the problem is due to the opposition, but the rest of it falls with North Melbourne, because this where they will get done in the finals – poise, or lack thereof.
Against Melbourne last weekend, they had a lot of the possession in the last quarter, but it was just the same thing they did and it yielded the same result; bomb the ball inside 50, turnover, win the ball back in the middle of the ground, repeat. That’s what madness is right?
Way too often have they neglected to try and look for the switch or try to use kicks on the 45 when they were on. And when they tried to do it, it was either not on, or the kick missed the target, and it allowed the Lions to get back into the game and on the end of goals.
Two players I will pinpoint for this is Brooke Brown and Danielle Hardiman – both of whom were very ordinary by foot. Aerially, they weren’t too bad, but executing the right decisions, as well as skills by foot is super critical come finals time and neither of them proved themselves in this contest.
It hurts in the case of Brown because she has been a revelation in the defensive half so far this season, but every time she got hands on the ball it was a turnover, or it was to a contest that ended up with Brisbane going inside 50.
There was a play in the second term that could’ve seen her switch the play and attempt to open the play but opted to kick to a pack that ended up with a turnover and back inside Brisbane’s 50 – there was plenty of that in the second term from many North players, so she is by no means not alone.
Hardiman’s kick in the last quarter summed up North’s day. The ball was moved out by Brisbane just outside their defensive 50, marked by Hardiman on the wing. Good sides try and work the ball through towards the opposite wing. Instead, Hardiman opts to kick it basically to where it was cleared.
To a tee, that kick summed up their ball movement for most of the day; lazy, thoughtless and deserving of the loss that was handed to them.
This is where you got to give Brisbane the credit and the respect they have deserved over the past year, because if there’s one thing that they do consistently well is that they apply the pressure.
By half time, the Lions were well on top of practically every statistical category; +19 in contested possessions, +15 in inside 50 entries and + 7 in clearances overall. But it’s the tackles up to half time that I found the most impressive, given how much control of possession they had and the time the ball was spent in the forward half.
Brisbane were +17 in tackles at half time and +21 by full time, finishing with 76 for the game, this is despite finishing the contested possession count 20 ahead of the Roos. Between the trio of Cathy Svarc, Emily Bates and Ally Anderson, these three combined for 32 of Brisbane’s 76 tackles – nearly half!
We expect Cathy Svarc to do what she does best here every week and stood up defensively around the contest again, laying 10 tackles, all whilst limiting the influence of Jasmine Garner around stoppages.
But it’s the work of the milestone women that helped set the game up for the Lions. Bates has been more of the offensive weapon this year and has greatly improved this year in this regard. This week wasn’t her finest hour in compared to previous games, but in a game where it wasn’t meant to be exotic and free-flowing footy, Bates stood tall when it counted.
Anderson was similar, more renowned for her work ethic and ability to bounce from contest to contest, she was staunch in the congestion and applied significant pressure throughout the game that typifies the kind of player that she is; a real blue-collared player.
RIDDELL ME THAT
There’s good and bad with Ash Riddell, I will say her form guide this year has been remarkable – her tank, appetite for the contest and her will to try and link up and take the game on has been consistent all year.
Let’s get the bad out of the way, because in a way, it’s minor – 22 of her 28 disposals in this game were kicks, and whilst I am not a gambling man, I’d wager that maybe 7 or 8 of those kicks either hit the target or were kicks that showed purpose – I mean kicks that go forward, hit targets and split the play wide open.
The rest of her kicks were either rushed kicks that resulted in turnovers or she was let down by the forwards – this is why I think it’s only the minor flaw, because one player can only do so much in a team, and whilst you can see that Riddell is winning the footy through stoppage play and receiving it on the outside in general play, it’s not going to amount to much if the players around her aren’t pulling their weight, providing leads for each other and sticking their marks.
The good is that despite several occasions where the Lions have crunched her in tackles in amongst the congestion, Riddell gets up, dusts herself off and goes again. She plays the cool hand in this respect and more than does her bit in this team.
The six marks suggest that she gets out in the open and helps provide that link-up play that North lack a lot during these crunch games and the six tackles shows that she works as hard when the Roos can’t get their hands on the football.
I’ll sum it up in one word; frustrating, because for all her hard work around the ground, her and the side have very little to show for it – she was North’s best player by a mile in this game.
CONWAY V ASHMORE – THE WING DUEL
In the first half of this game at least, this was a very fun battle to watch.
In terms of the wing players in the AFLW, it’s hard to argue against the fact that Sophie Conway and Kaitlyn Ashmore are amongst the top five in the league.
It’s taken a little longer for Conway to pick up where she left off last year due to the Lions’ disrupted start to the year, but she has really found another level to her game in which she can hit the scoreboard with such damage and precision.
With two goals in the opening half, Conway took the chocolates in this one, Ashmore was one of many victims of North Melbourne’s putrid ball movement. When the Roos play with more fluency, Ashmore is one of the key drivers to this and partly due to the Lions’ pressure and partly due to North’s negligence to spread, and if Ashmore wasn’t kept out of the play, then the Lions’ pressure meant that she was on borrowed time.
Conway has always managed to keep her width as an outside player and her first goal saw her capitalise on poor chain handballing from the Roos, whilst maintaining width. Her second goal showed that she has the ability to draw high contact from the opposition and finished off well with the set shot.
It makes Conway’s performance even greater when you realise that Orla O’Dwyer – far and wide the best winger this season in the AFLW this year – sat out this game to manage the shoulder injury that she suffered last weekend.
As we head towards the Finals, the scoreboard impact from several players is going to play a big factor for so many teams – Conway is going to be one of a few Brisbane players that is primed for a big post-season campaign.
There was something about Maria Moloney’s game that I took great enjoyment of watching in this game.
Yes, she was named as the replacement for Orla O’Dwyer in this game, and when you base it off her performance, how the hell are you going to drop her? She kicked two goals in this game, both of them on the back of drawing contact and sucking in the North defenders to go over the shoulder.
She’s not an overly tall player but looks quite strong for her size and was able to showcase her strength plenty around that forward half, that strength around contests meant that she was able to bring others into the game with fast hands, as well as bring that frontal pressure, something of which the Lions certainly don’t lack.
Moloney laid five tackles in this game, the only other Brisbane player that managed more tackles, other than the three I mentioned above, is Courtney Hodder. The pressure she brings suits Brisbane’s smashmouth style of football to a tee and when you see her fulfil the role that is asked of her, on top of the two goals she kicked, how do you take her out of the team?
It certainly provides Craig Starcevich with some headaches heading into next week, maybe they can afford to rest Orla for another week, get her primed and ready for the Finals.
Loved Greta Bodey’s game this week, very unlucky not to be on the goals sheet, but you can see that she’s dangerous whenever the ball is in her general direction, and she set her teammates up very well all throughout the game. Nice overhead mark too.
Nat Grider is well on her way to being an All-Australian this season, well in my All-Australian anyway; I doubt the selectors could name you five Brisbane players that played on the weekend. Rebounds well, intercept marks very well, she’s a beauty.
Mia King gave away a few free-kicks in this game, but there was no faulting her efforts in this game. Attacked contests well, led all Roos for tackles with 10 for the game and tried to keep the ball moving, kicking needs a bit of a tidy-up though.
How good can Tahlia Hickie be in a few years’ time? She’s got great athleticism, positions herself well in that defensive wall outside attacking 50 and her ruck craft is vastly improved from 12 months ago.
Hard for Tahlia Randall to impact the game when the inside 50 entries have been garbage, but it was nice to see her on the end of a great crumbing goal in the third term.
Phoebe Monahan’s first half was exceptional. Has really turned her form around since being delisted by Richmond, strong in the one-on-one contests, but also has maintained that dash on the rebound.
Emma Kearney in the backline was strong – perhaps second best to Riddell in this game, but like her teammates, had to really work overtime to overcome the pressure that Brisbane applied inside forward 50.
Jesse Wardlaw’s had a very good season, and whilst one goal from just six disposals and three marks isn’t going to jump out of the page, I thought her repeated efforts on the lead and at ground level and her contests in the air were very good.
Don’t like the hit from Alexia Hamilton on Sophie Conway, should see a week or two for it, didn’t need to go the player, looked a move of frustration than anything else.
If Courtney Hodder’s two behinds were goals, then the media would be talking her up to no end. Thought she did plenty of good things when the ball hit the deck, but it just felt like it was more of an almost game. She’s so bloody exciting though.
And that’ll do me for this game – Brisbane play the Western Bulldogs next weekend in Ballarat – assuming if Melbourne lose to Carlton (highly unlikely), the Lions could jump them with a win over the Dogs, but that’ll be a task easier said than done, given the Dogs have made a good fist of things this year.
North Melbourne will play West Coast next Saturday at Arden Street Oval in a game that they are expected to win – should they win, then a home final is all but sealed, providing Fremantle don’t dismantle the Gold Coast Suns next weekend in their game and usurp them on percentage.
Adelaide has been on a rampage this year, with a mix of veterans and exciting young talent that will surely have them looking for their third flag in a few weeks’ time. Collingwood on the other hand has not quite lived up to their potential, though injuries have certainly played their part this year, especially losing Brittany Bonnici to a ruptured ACL last week.
With a surprise loss to the Bulldogs further galvanising this Adelaide side, it’d be a brave person to have tipped Collingwood, yet they almost achieved the unexpected to topple Adelaide at their Norwood home. “Honourable loss” is a phrase that gets thrown around, but usually when a team with no real chance of winning manages to come close, but for my money, this wasn’t an honourable loss, but a bad beat, because Collingwood were perhaps just a little unlucky to go away without a win here.
Still, class will win out, and Adelaide has plenty of that too.
ADELAIDE START STRONG
Adelaide dominated the first quarter, with most of the term played in their forward half. Aside from their ability to move forward quickly, they were also able to lock the ball in there for long periods of time. Their first three shots on goal were from inside 50 intercepts, with the ever-present Erin Phillips shanking her first shot, then kicking cleanly to score the first goal of the match.
Shortly afterwards, Phillips again made her presence felt when she looked to snap from the same spot again, but mid-action changed her kick to find Woodland open closer to goal.
Adelaide with early chances through defensive pressure up forward two turnovers resulting in two shots at goal, before Phillips takes a second shot from 40 out and nails it. She follows up shortly after from almost the same spot, finding Woodland who kicks another for the Crows.
COLLINGWOOD WITH THE COUNTER-PUNCH
Collingwood must have gotten the rev up they needed at quarter time, because they came into the second quarter with a bit more gusto, managing several forward entries before Tarni Brown kicks from 35 with a clean shot.
Collingwood then doubled up with a quick centre break that resulted in a scramble in the pocket and Eliza James weaving through traffic and breaking a fairly mediocre tackle to slot a goal.
It’s great to see plays like this, as James shows just what the next generation of AFLW footballer could bring to the game. Players that weren’t converts from other sports, but have played the sport through junior grades.
The ball spent a lot of time in their forward area, but Adelaide held fast and repelled as often as not. It’s a huge credit to Collingwood that all it took was a few minutes of inattention for them to get two quick goals and pepper their attacking zone for a few more shots that resulted in points, and going into the long break with only a point behind Adelaide.
The second half was a lot tighter contest, with a lot of time spent in congestion as space to move came at a premium. Both teams had some hard aggression around the ball, and Teah Charlton, Maddi Newman and Jaimee Lambert were working their hardest to shut down any player trying to make their way out of the pack. Lambert in particular was impressive, as she also managed to get her own clearances, mostly through breaking the tackles of the Adelaide defenders.
After several forward entries, Collingwood youngsters Tarni Brown and Eliza James worked hard at the drop of the ball in the pocket, which saw James thread the needle with a soccer from the point post that went through the big sticks, giving Collingwood a five-point lead, and plenty of momentum.
Adelaide are nothing if not resilient, though, and responded with increased intensity. Several forward 50 entries were repelled before Charlton managed to find some space, and kick the ball to Woodland who took a great contested mark and kick a clean goal to retake the lead by the slimmest of margins.
Adelaide continued to push forward, but brave work from Ruby Schleicher and Lauren Butler denied them any easy chances, with Ballard and Woodland only managing behinds.
Early in the final quarter, the veteran Adelaide midfield worked hard to get the ball forward, which game Marinoff some space on the arc to find Ponter. She kicked from 30 out on a 45-degree angle, and found the middle of the big sticks to give Adelaide a nine-point advantage.
Collingwood were not laying down though, and the ball moved back and forth between arcs for much of the next ten minutes, with neither side willing to concede ground. Some great work from both mids in shutting down easy passes away from the contest made for a very congested game, but a great spectacle for those that like the hardball style of play.
Collingwood managed to get the ball into their attacking zone and after a scramble that seemed to have the Sherrin pinballing around off the body of every player on the field, Ailish Considine made the cardinal mistake of forgetting her acting lessons, and lay with the ball pinned to her rather than make the compulsory attempt at disposing of the ball, but not actually doing anything that would allow her to actually dispose of the ball. It is an odd thing that the requirement for umpires to determine intent means that players with acting abilities haver an advantage, but hey, footy’s a funny game.
Steph Chiocci was the beneficiary of the free, and the captain tried to bring her side back into the game off her own foot, launching a shot from just inside the 50 metre arc, but fell short. Collingwood’s forward line wasn’t deterred though, putting the pressure on, but weren’t able to create a goal.
The Pies kept up the intensity though, pushing forward again and again. A massive kick from the back flank from Livingstone put the Pies into attack, as the Crows cleared the ball, but only as far as Schleicher, who intercepted and quickly got the ball deep into the Collingwood forward line. A scramble (and some uncharacteristic poor disposal from Abbi Newman) allowed Chloe Molloy to gather the loose ball and snap over her shoulder to bring the margin back to two points with two minutes to go.
Adelaide and Collingwood both looked dead on their feet, but both sides pushed on. Adelaide throwing players back to defend and content to keep the ball in dispute in the middle of the ground to hold on for the win.
THE MIDFIELD BATTLE
Marinoff, Hatchard and Phillips have been a big part of the reason why Adelaide has been so hard to beat this year. While Lambert, Chiocci and Cann weren’t blown off the park, I think it’s safe to say that Adelaide’s midfield had them covered for much of the day. The Pies seemed aware that they were against a top-level midfield though, and resorted to the gutsy one-on-one coverage on the inside that gave their opponents no easy touches.
They were assisted by some great tap work from Alison Downie, who managed 13 hit outs and wasn’t afraid to take the ball out of the ruck herself, gaining four clearances. Gould and Mckinnon did their part, but had a lot more room for error with their midfield circling like hungry sharks whenever the ball was tossed into the air.
Yeah, she’s got a section of her own because she’s in a class of her own.
Phillips’ impact on the game is enormous. The first quarter showed how she can impact a game directly, as well as draw others on her team into the contest. That sort of thing is why she’s been so highly rated for so long, and why many, many Port Adelaide supporters are hoping they can convince her to play a season or two. Will she answer the call to pull on the jumper her father wore for so long? Will she leave the team she helped build from the ground up?
It’s so hard to say what happens here. On one hand, she’s a world champion basketballer, Olympian, Order of Australia recipient, and two-time (potentially three-time) premiership player at Adelaide. You could say she’s got nothing left to do there, or you could say that she’s carved her own legacy, and doesn’t need to attach it to her father’s.
On the other hand, sentiment is no small thing, and getting Phillips in the Power guernsey. As of right now, she doesn’t have a contract for next season, but even if she did, the new clubs may be allowed to “poach” some marquee players. You would expect Port to make the phone call at the very least. Though it may be tough for her to decide what number to wear, with her father donning 22 for four flags, and three flags in the number 20, to go with his number 3 at Collingwood. Although, she could easily decide to take the famous number 1, and the captaincy to go with it. It would be exactly the sort of carrot that Port would dangle to get the deal done, and why not, she’d be the most popular thing in Port Adelaide since meth.
HOLIDAY FOR ALLEN
A major event in the second quarter was Erica Fowler taking a head-high hit while over the ball from Najwa Allen. She was put in the books, and on Monday learned she was in for a two-week holiday. Whether we like it or not, the result of the action is penalised more so than the intent. Fowler had to leave the game (and will likely have some time off herself with concussion protocols), and so Allen was given two.
For my money, it did look like Allen was attempting to hip and shoulder Fowler, but just as she turned and braced, Fowler dived towards the ball, as she is allowed to do.
It’s a direct way of playing, and plenty of people applaud the courage when players put getting the ball as a higher priority than personal safety, and while I’m not blaming Fowler at all, players need to learn to protect themselves at all times. Learning how to make yourself small, turn your body into contact and take that sort of hit is a skill that’s slowly disappearing from the game at the top level (though ever-present in country leagues where you can expect to be laid out by a 45 year-old plumber if you take your eyes off him for a second), and players need to prioritise their own health. Earning free kicks or showing the coach you’re desperate for the ball is respected by many, but with the long-term effects of concussion becoming apparent, I’m hoping more time is spent on developing the skills that allow players to protect themselves now so they aren’t paying for it later.
As I said, none of that is Fowler’s fault. She went for the ball, but I hope that coaches look at the incident and ask themselves how they can help her (and others) develop the skills to take that contact a different way in the future, just as Allen should look at how she can avoid that sort of contact in the future too.
Finals are almost here, and while Adelaide are locked in, and would need a big turnaround in fortunes to drop out of the top two, they will be looking to enter into the postseason with momentum, and showing their opposition that they can put on a big score as well. They take on St Kilda at Moorabbin, and with the Demons managing to put on the first 100 point total in AFLW history, they will want to get the percentage they need to finish on top of the ladder, because this Adelaide side this season has lived by the pirate creed of “take what you can, and give nothing back”.
Adelaide by 40 points.
Collingwood are a less secure finals contender, sitting half a game inside the top 6 with a small percentage advantage over the Bulldogs. The Dogs will be coming up against Brisbane though, and the other “mathematical possibility” Carlton will play a rampant Demons side, and they’re very unlikely to put on a win big enough to get their percentage above Collingwood.
Collingwood are also more than ten percentage points adrift from Freo and North, but with a low-scoring season, a 40-50 point win could see them leap up to 4th, if other results go their way.
However, Richmond have shown they’re not a side to be taken lightly, and their work against GWS this week was very positive for a side sitting outside contention. Much was made a few weeks back of the North Melbourne – Collingwood rivalry, with player movement and prelim scores to be settled, but Richmond and Collingwood have an enmity that goes back more than a hundred years, and everyone who has worn either strip will be hoping for another win, regardless of the league it’s played in.
I’m bullish on the tigers though, and while it’ll be interesting to see how Fredrick goes against her old side, I think this week’s game took a lot out of Collingwood, and the soreness of Lambert and other key players could be all that is needed to dull the shine as they look to a finals campaign while Richmond know they’re finishing their season, so have nothing to lose. I think the tigers sneak by just because no Collingwood player will want an injury or suspension at this stage of the season. Richmond by 8 points.
CARLTON (7. 4. 46) DEFEATED GOLD COAST (2. 4. 16)
REVIEWER – HB MEYERS
With the suns still a chance to play finals, you would have expected them to come out breathing fire, however, it was the Blues that started the game hot, kicking the first three and looking far superior to Gold Coast. With the Suns managing just two goals for the game, it turned out to be a match-winning blast from Carlton.
The Suns were riddled with turnovers and poor decisions early in the game – mistimes bumps that barely connected when a tackle was the only option led to an early goal for Nicola Stevens and the Blues were off to the races.
Here are the highlights as I saw them.
THAT JONES GIRL
Courtney Jones hit the scoreboard for the third-straight game, taking her season tally to eight and firmly entrenching her as one of the Blues’ best players of 2022. Her clean hands, instinctive ability to move to the right spot on the field, and her defensive efforts have been a highlight for a Carlton team that, until recently, have been really disappointing.
Not just a goal-kicker, Jones moves up and through the middle and seems more than content to dish off to a better option.
She will be one to watch in… I was going to say 2023, but who knows when the next season will begin?
DARCY THE DARCY STOPPER
Hats off to Daisy Darcy in this game.
She played a superb lockdown role on Darcy Vescio all game, limiting the AFLW’s all-time leading goalkicker from having any real meaningful involvement in the game. She beat Vescio on the deck and in the air, sticking close to her opponent all day. It must have been infuriating to hear the whistle blow late in the last quarter and see Vescio slot through a goal on one of the softest holding free kicks you could imagine. Though Darcy will know she had Vescio’s number, people may look up and down the stats sheet, see Vescio kicked a goal and think it was a good effort in a winning team – it wasn’t.
Daisy Darcy had the better of Darcy Vescio by a long way in this one. Don’t think anything otherwise.
I’ve been watching Vaomua Laloifi for three years now, and every time I see her, I cannot look away. Not in a car-crash kind of way, but I get the feeling that running into her would leave me resembling someone who had been in an accident.
Laloifi has been an absolute rock for the Blues over the journey. She positions herself beautifully, will happily (or maybe not happily, but she’ll do it) stand under the footy and take the hit when one is coming, and knows her limitations. If you were picking a team and needed a great defender, I am sure she would not be your first pick, but if you required someone to stand shoulder to shoulder with you in a knockdown/drag-out affair, she would be one of the first picked every day of the week.
NOT ENOUGH MADE OF IT
I’m talking about the second goal from Nicola Stevens, here. Her work ethic was mentioned during the call, but the effort she put in, creating the play between half-back and wing with a lovely 45 kick, only to race down inside 50 to win the footy again and snap a goal was everything you could want from a forward.
She has played alongside some celebrated names over the journey, but the work of Nicola Stevens deserves to be celebrated on its own merits. She strikes me as a heart and soul player at the Blues and she poured her heart and soul into this game as one of the catalysts for the Blues’ win.
No, someone didn’t leave the field for multiple bathroom breaks, but the title may indicate differently.
The runs I am alluding to revolve around Breann Moody, which conjured visions of Justin Madden tucking the footy under his arm and half-running/half-stumbling down the wing, taking a couple of bounces.
In truth, Moody looked a lot more in control than Madden at the time, who seemed more like someone just learning he had a gear above “jog” that could be used, and I love the fact she did it twice, just to show you that the first time wasn’t a fluke.
This title could lead us into any of a dozen scenarios in the game, as there were plenty of errors to choose from, but the decision to go off the deck from Kate Surman late in the third quarter instead of picking up the footy and making sure of it seemed to suck the life out of the Suns.
Admittedly, Surman looked like she was wearing concrete boots in an underwater sprint as she chased down the pass from Tara Bohanna, but the soccer off the deck was never going to be a great option from 20 metres out. Yes, there was pressure coming, but that’s why you have the big preseason and do the work early. We can make all the excuses in the world for her – fatigue chief amongst them – but you just don’t get opportunities like that often. When they come along you have to grab them.
And to grab them, you need to use your hands and pick the damn ball up!
I see Maddy Prespakis is listed as one of the Blues’ best in this game on the AFLW app. Why? This was one of the more subdued performances I’ve seen from her. I reckon her name just looked good in that section, or they were so used to having it in there, the work experience kid just didn’t feel like making too many edits (just like myself when I put this article together – apologies for a less than stellar effort).
Mimi Hill kept on with her great form. Maybe her return and the subsequent form of the Blues is a reason Prespakis doesn’t have to do as much?
Charlie Rowbottom looks tired and perhaps even a little frustrated. She is a bull, but she is also just a baby. At 19, perhaps the season is starting to take its toll on her?
Tara Bohanna could be the best forward in the game next season. She is such a tough matchup and if she gave herself the best possible chance at being as fit as she could be heading into the next season, I would love to see what she could do.
And that be it for this week, kids. One more round to go and then onto the big stuff.
Before I sign off, but wanted to say I am a little worried with how the competition will look following expansion. We currently have quite a few players in the league that really shouldn’t be there – they’re not up to it. You know, I know it, and I reckon the league knows it. However, AFLW and the AFL have committed to having all teams represented by next season.
I think it is a mistake. We’re already seeing teams go entire games without kicking a goal and we’re going to spread the talent even thinner? There is going to be some almighty hidings in the next season. Is it too much, too soon?
I have a feeling we won’t have to wait too long to find out. – HB