AFLW Week One – The Doc’s Likes and Dislikes

The Doc knows his AFLW – lives and breathes it, and every week, he has some things like likes, and others… he likes a lot less.

Here they are from Round One.





Collingwood continuing to unearth gems

Just when you think Collingwood are out, they find a performance to drag you back in. The Pies systematically suffocated the Blues on the back of great forward pressure +16 in tackles inside 50 and if there were some numbers out there for pressure acts (stop being lazy you lot on the AFL website), you could probably surmise that there are a few Pies players that no one outside the four walls of the club that would be up there too.

Imogen Evans has had some football journey already; overlooked by the Queensland clubs at the Draft after a strong under-18 championship campaign for the sunshine state, only to be signed by the Pies shortly thereafter. Evans has already started to repay the faith with a good performance on Thursday night.

Jaimee Lambert and Mimi Hill will most likely get the votes, but Evans’s pressure, clearance work out of stoppage and overall appetite for the contest is going to hold her in good stead in the years that come. In this game, Evans had seven tackles – third of all Pies behind Eliza James (who’s another gem they’ve found) who had 10 and Chloe Molloy with eight, who’s playing more up the ground this year – along with four clearances, a goal and a good win on debut. Keep your eye out for her this season.


Making the statement

The reigning premiers on their home deck is never an easy feat, but Melbourne sounded off a big shot to the rest of the competition on Friday night that they meant business; 14 scoring shots to six would have you believe that the Demons dominated the play, but you’ve got to tip your hat to the Crows, because whilst Melbourne had their opportunities and struggled to put them away, Adelaide made the most of theirs. They took the lead in the third term and got within a kick in the last quarter.

However, one look at the uncontested possession count will tell you that the Demons had a lot of the play on their terms: +73 in the uncontested ball and +20 in the marks. There were moments where the Crows had indecision and one handball that went wayward, and the Dees swooped onto it and made them pay by possession retention. Good luck to the midfield brigades taking on Hanks, Paxman, Purcell, West and Mithen this season, they’re already looking prominent and poised to get to the top.


Smokey for the leading goalkicker award

I was on the sick bed for most of this week, so I missed out on doing the AFLW preview for the A3 Footy Podcast which included who we thought would make the top eight, leading goal kicker, best and fairest winner… you know how it goes. We’re never shy of a bold call or two on anything, so I sent my text to my colleagues about Tahlia Randall having the off-season of her life to win the leading goalkicker award.

If North’s performance was any indication of how the year might pan out, then Randall is currently looking pretty good to take on Ash Woodland at Adelaide as the competition’s leading goalkicker. Last season, I raved about her ability to attack the ball and willingness to split packs last season, it was just her kicking that let her down. Booted 9.9 last season, Randall has started this season with 3.0 on the back of a set shot routine that looked more poised and composed than it was last year, so that tells me she’s definitely gone back and really worked on it and her contested marking was on display too, taking two of her four marks in contested situations.


Heart of the Eagles

Port Adelaide had them at three-quarter time: they were +37 in tackles and were harder at the contest for longer and found a two-goal cushion at the final break. West Coast of six months ago would’ve folded to a five or six-goal loss, but this could be one of the best wins at the club for quite some time.

Four goals to nothing and it was lead by the likes of Dana Hooker, who ran riot around the clearances and put her body in everything to ensure that the Eagles maintained possession. Aisling McCarthy was running around with Erin Phillips for most of the afternoon and once the move was made to be let off the leash, she was a presence around contest and her goal that saw her weave around an opponent, shake another into her teammate and snap around her body from a tight angle for a goal was the one that entirely shifted momentum to the Eagles.

The cherry on top was watching West Coast’s prized draft pick Ella Roberts, touted by our own Daniel Jon Kershaw as the saviour of the Eagles, place her kick right onto the chest of Kate Bartlett to make it a two-goal buffer with four minutes to play. She was busy without being a superstar but once she gets more continuity in her game, she’s going to cause a lot of problems.


About Saturday night…

Who wouldn’t want to see more games at Docklands?

If it wasn’t for this damn bout of the cold, I would’ve seen myself down at Docklands on Saturday night to witness this. Our resident Bombers’ man Jimmy Ayres tells us on the chat that the atmosphere at the ground was terrific and the game itself lived up to the billing between two teams with a ton of history on the men’s side of the great game.

It had a lot of everything that makes this game great. Sophie Locke, after a horrid couple of weeks off-field, kicked off Hawthorn with their first goal in the AFLW with a set shot on top of the goal-square. The Dons had a hard time with their opportunities in front of goal, whilst Hawthorn were more accurate and had their share of possession, but the Dons found an extra level in the last term and piled on three unanswered goals.

Maddy Prespakis was at her prolific best around the midfield, whilst the Dons have unearthed a good one in Paige Scott, who was one of their top-10 draft picks back at the Draft in June. Hawthorn have unearthed some good finds too. Locke was dangerous around the forward half, as was Zoe Barbakos. Tamara Smith was throwing herself to every contest and Jasmine Fleming showed in one game why she was rated so highly as a draft prospect.


Welcome back Georgia and Gabby

The end of the 2021 season feels like it’s a while ago now, but we got to witness two of the top three Victorian draft prospects from 2019 made their return to football after missing the entire last season through different circumstances.

Gabby Newton, taken by the Western Bulldogs at number one, was enormous in the Dogs’ forward half in the first half. Tackling pressure in any form of football is key and Newton started with six tackles in the opening term and then went into half time with eight tackles, one of which was rewarded with her first goal in the AFLW. Then backed it up with a second goal shortly thereafter. Form tapered off in the second half, but given that she missed the entirety of last season due to shoulder surgery, the Dogs would be pleased with her return.

And then there’s Georgia Patrikios, taken by the Saints four picks later. AFLW is a better competition with her presence and on Saturday night at a rockin’ North Sydney Oval, Patrikios eased herself back into the swing of things with 18 disposals, five tackles and four clearances against the Swans. The use was a bit rusty at times, but the run and fitness sure as hell wasn’t. She still looked like she could’ve run all day and then have some left in tank for more.


Fun for the Lions forwards

With 47 inside 50s in this game, the Lions could’ve won by a lot more than 49 points. Such was their domination of the Dockers up at the Gabba on Sunday. If this didn’t tell you that the Lions are business this season, then nothing’s going to get through to you.

Ben Dixon asked the question if you could put anyone in the All-Australian team after one round, referring specifically to Courtney Hodder. Well sorry Dicko, the answer is no. She may get on the rolling AA team for this week when I announce it for the podcast, because she was in ripping touch with 2.1 from 15 touches and featured in another four scores as well. Greta Bodey should also be in discussion again; two goals when it could easily have been four or five, but also had 13 touches and seven score involvements of her own.

Jesse Wardlaw kicked two as well, commanding the aerial presence as the big key forward, the job would’ve been made a little easier with Fremantle’s All-Australian Janelle Cuthbertson taken off in the second half with a suspected broken nose and as well for the smalls with Jess Low taken off with concussion after the pair clashed heads in the second term.


All rise for Georgie Prespakis

We saw Maddy Prespakis have the ball on the string around Marvel Stadium on Saturday night, I almost forgot just how good her little sister was as well.

It was dour affair in Geelong on Sunday afternoon, with only three goals scored for the entire game – that’ll get the anti-AFLW idiots chirping, I’m sure – but Georgie was responsible for the two goals that got the Cats over the line in this one, including a set shot in the final minute of the game that saw her kick the game winner from about 35 metres out.

A few of her mates had big games around the stoppages – Nina Morrison and Amy McDonald combined for 25 contested possessions and 10 clearances, but for Georgie this was big. She was always a tackling presence and a clearance beast, but never a prolific goal-kicker; she failed to kick a goal in her 10 games at the Cats last season. Well, this game showed that she was well on her way to debunking that part.

God, she’s going to be bloody special!!!




Going to be a long year for the Blues

Carlton were comprehensively outplayed by the Magpies who were missing two of the best midfielders in the competition on Thursday night. Much was made about the exits of their players last season to other clubs, and at times against the Pies, they looked a side robbed bare of a competitive list. Six inside 50s in a half of football is not going to get the job done on any given day and the Blues going out of defence were completely despondent in the first half against a defensive unit that is going to prove themselves hard to stop this year.

It’s hard to find winners in this Blues’ team if we’re being honest; Mimi Hill looked the goods after winning the Rising Star award last season with 26 disposals and a mountain of contested ball, Lucy McEvoy got going in the second half and looks incredibly lively around the contest, Breann Moody was dominant in the ruck and really made an impact in the third term, Paige Trudgeon is announcing herself as a key defender and was hard to beat in the air and whilst debutant Mia Austin only had three kicks, she’s got marking hands that you can build a forward line around her down the line.


When are we going to bring in the score review?

It’s not often I listen to Seven’s woeful commentary, let alone agree with it, but Jason Bennett made the point after Kate Hore’s goal in the opening quarter against Adelaide in the last quarter. It’s a semi-professional league right now, but the longer this goes on, the longer we will be asking this question. Looking back at the replay, you can easily mount the argument that there was a hand to the ball when Hore went for the goal, but unfortunately, we won’t get the chance to look back and get a definitive answer on it until the AFL body investigates it.

Luckily the result was over a goal, because I could guarantee that we’d be talking more about it if it the margin was less than six points, we’d refer back to this kick.


Tough initiation for new Suns leader

Call it the end of the honeymoon phase for the sworn-in Gold Coast captain Tara Bohanna if you must, but she and her team got handed a lesson by North Melbourne in this game. For three quarters The Roos dominated them in terms of possession and had the ball hemmed in their forward half and had only recorded six inside 50s up to three-quarter time. Meanwhile the Roos had 31; that’s an annhilation.

Bohanna had a tremendous first year last season, making the All Australian 40, and was right up there in the leading goalkickers of the competition, but you can’t expect anyone to make an impact up forward from six inside 50s for three quarters of the game. She finished with just the five disposals and two marks for no score in a game she’d rather forget, but she wasn’t the only one who had her colours lowered; Jamie Stanton didn’t see a lot of the ball, Ashanti Bush failed to introduce herself to the ball and there were another handful who only recorded eight touches or less.


Ham down

Sydney have confirmed on Sunday afternoon that it’s not an ACL for Montana Ham, but that was a hairy moment on Saturday evening at North Sydney Oval

Football has often played a cruel hand, with Izzy Huntington and Nina Morrison – both former number one picks themselves – going down with season ending knee injuries in the past. But when Ham went down clutching her right knee after having a shot on goal that just fell short, we looked like we were going to go around again.

The game was well and truly decided, but that almost sucked all life out of the game because Ham had some pretty bloody good moments in this game that make you lean from your chair in excitement and hoping to see what she does next. She did a lot right in this game to suggest that she’ll be in the discussion of the best players to emerge out of this decade. She burst away from stoppages well, tackled hard and her disposal and decision making was on full display in various parts of the game. Her kick from half back to Privitelli at half forward was a kick you’d expect from someone who’s been in the game for seven years.


The tall don’t get shorter for the Giants

I’ve been extremely critical of GWS over the last couple of years, but that was a gallant effort against the Bulldogs and whilst they were -17 in inside 50 entries, their penchant to run off the turnover worked remarkably well on the Bulldogs’ defences and the individual brilliance of Alyce Parker and Cora Staunton almost carried them over for their first win in season seven.

But having said that, they lost. So, you’ve got to figure out where it went wrong. A lot of the other stats were pretty even: -4 in contested ball, – 5 in clearances, -5 in tackles and actually nine more touches of the ball than their opposition, but the Dogs found a weakness through their defence in the second half and looked to isolate Celine Moody one-out with Pepa Randall and Pepa is a warrior, but gives away 14 centimetres to Moody and she got two goals and an extra shot on goal as a result. Just makes you wonder whether or not other teams will work to exploit that on GWS throughout the season.


Long way back for Fremantle

Sophie Conway marks the ball deep in attack, on an acute angle in the last quarter, an Irishwoman by the name of Orlagh Lally turns her back and jogs away, leaving Conway to allow herself to waltz into an open goal.

Regardless of your background, that’s unforgivable. Unforgivable on the player for doing it in the first place and unforgivable on the team for not relaying the message to her. But it summed up their game. Freo did their best to hold the fort in the first quarter as the Lions dominated territory, but after that, the floodgates opened and the Dockers, sans for maybe 10 minutes in the third term, were second best to the footy for a lot of the afternoon.

It’s a different team to the side that strutted out to Adelaide in the preliminary final back in April. No Steph Cain, no Gemma Houghton – neither of them are there anymore. The Antonios are injured and will miss most of the year and Janelle Cuthbertson was taken out of the game by half time due to friendly fire and might miss more weeks. This season could get ugly for the Dockers before it gets better.



Want more of this kind of stuff? Join The Mongrel to get it!