Week Two of the AFLW season is in the books, and the Mongrel Team had their eyes all over the action to bring you the best standouts and surprise packets of the weekend.
Let’s get stuck in.
MELBOURNE VS NORTH MELBOURNE – Alex Docherty
Player Focus –Sarah Lampard
It was a game that both teams had their opportunities going inside 50. For Melbourne, their second term should’ve got them into an unassailable position, but they wasted opportunities and allowed North in with a sniff that saw them take the lead in the last quarter.
North could’ve had them on toast if it wasn’t for the defensive brilliance of a few players. One of them was Sarah Lampard, who I thought time and time again, was willing to leave her direct opponent to try and impact on a contest and more often than not, she was able to get first hands to the ball and move it out of Melbourne’s defensive half zone.
Libby Birch is often found as the cornerstone of Melbourne’s defensive unit, but Lampard is often the unsung hero of the lot. She rebounds, adds an enormous sense of composure to the ball and I’d often back her in to get the Dees out of trouble.
She had eight intercept possessions in this game – only Libby Birch had more with nine – but finished with 17 disposals and two tackles in a very solid defensive game.
ADELAIDE V RICHMOND – Daniel Jon Kershaw
Player Focus – Ebony Marinoff
Even though the Tigers dominated inside 50s (38-20) and tackles inside 50 (26-3), they were not able to cause damage on the scoreboard thanks to the defensive wall of the Crows backline. And while the backline as a whole deserve kudos, the work in the guts from Ebony Marinoff was a significant reason the Crows were able to take their limited chances and get across the line.
The run and flair of players like Monique Conti are always worth talking about, but I have to say I have a soft spot for high-pressure workhorses like Marinoff. When Richmond had complete control of the game, Marinoff stood up tall and put her body on the line to provide enough resistance to keep the score line within reach, despite the dominance on the stat sheet. A moment that mattered for me was in the first quarter when Marinoff put her head over the ball, even though contact was imminent. It resulted in a head clash and free kick Marinoff’s way, but that dedication to the ball is admirable.
There was a lot to love about Marinoff’s game. As well as getting plenty of the ball with 22 touches including some brilliant field kicking, for the second week in a row she was in double digits in tackles (11). But she wasn’t always in the contest. Marinoff is the type of player that reads the ball well and knows when to go in and when to stay close by as an option. Richmond were definitely the better team for most of the game in this one, but the Crow’s efficiency and experience were able to capitalise on the Tigers who were wasteful in front of the big sticks.
PORT ADELAIDE VS WESTERN BULLDOGS – Daniel Jon Kershaw
Player Focus – Heidi Woodley
It’s funny that I got a message from a fellow Bulldogs supporter with a tweet I posted on the night of the Draft saying that drafting this young lady ahead of Charley Ryan and Sophia McCarthy was a poor draft decision.
I’d like to take this time and apologise and say that I got this one wrong. Whilst I still believe in Ryan and McCarthy as players of the future, I completely ignored exactly what Heidi Woodley can do and add to this Bulldogs’ side – and she will add quite a bit if this game is anything to go by.
She debuted last week against the Giants and had some good moments without really being an impact player, but against Port Adelaide, she looked easily more comfortable. Being stationed around as a high half-forward option, her ground ball work was rather clean, her presentation to the ball is solid and her pressure was very good for someone in just her second career game.
She finished with 13 disposals – seven contested – along with five tackles, three marks – one contested – and four score involvements, one of which included a behind.
FREMANTLE VS GEELONG – Alex Docherty
Player Focus –Nina Morrison
The Cats have found themselves a strong midfield core of Amy McDonald, Georgie Prespakis and Nina Morrison – I wrote about Prespakis in my likes and dislikes column last week and McDonald features in it this week – so why not go the trifecta and talk about Nina here?
All three of them are contested bulls around the stoppages, but all three of them bring something unique to the table; McDonald thrives around the contest and will find herself at the bottom of a pack almost every time. Prespakis had nine clearances in this game, whilst Morrison’s defensive presence around every stoppage was evident.
She led all Geelong players on the ground for tackles with eight for the game, but also did her fair share of digging in for the contest, with nine of her 13 disposals coming out of contested situations. Her ability to pick off opposition surges was also something that impressed me, recording four intercept possessions in this game too.
Her goal in the second term just outlines that her class can be just as good as her contested work, she’s got the poise that made her such a highly touted junior in the first place – providing a steady hand in the wet has always been something easier said than done, but no one has told Nina that.
A very underrated game from her in this one – Prespakis and McDonald will most likely get the top votes, but Morrison’s game shouldn’t be overlooked either.
CARLTON V ESSENDON – HB Meyers
Player Focus – Keeley Skepper
It’d be easy to look at Darcy Vescio’s three goals as the standout in a game where nine were kicked for the day, but I reckon those efforts will get plenty of coverage elsewhere.
Ditto for the work of Maddy Prespakis, who will have volumes written abut her at her new club.
So, instead of focusing on the obvious, I wanted to give a shout out to a couple of players who look will not likely get the credit they deserve. Before I get onto Skepper, the work of Keeley Sherar deserves a mention. At just 18, she was excellent coming out of defence for the Blues in a game where the stat sheet really does not reflect her play. Her six tackles and the way she competed for the footy were vital to the Blues. For the honour of Grayskull, Keeley!
Additionally, Gab Pound provided the Blues with a great combination of desperate defence and excellent rebound as she picked up 11 touches.
It was Skepper, though, who caught the eye most often. Another 18-year-old, she snagged a goal and was lively all game en route to collecting 12 touches on debut. Much has been made of the exodus from Carlton over the last little while, but if they are bringing in players like Skepper to fill the void, the club will again start to build very quickly. She was clean with the footy, showed great vision and looked dangerous every time she touched it. One to keep an eye on, for sure.
COLLINGWOOD V SYDNEY – Jimmy Day
Player Focus – Ruby Schleicher
As the Pies took control of the game, many of their players starred. One of these is the part-time midfielder, part-time defender Ruby Schleicher. She started the game – and quarters in the centre square and was able to push forward through stoppage – most notably one such centre clearance in the final term where she exited the front of the stoppage, kicking long inside 50, where the ball ended with an Olivia Barber goal.
Schleicher finished with 16 disposals, two clearances, and utilised her defensive prowess around the ball with six tackles. Her five marks demonstrated that she was able to get involved on the spread, but also behind the ball.
By moving into the middle, Schleicher has added an extra string to her bow in how she can impact and influence the game. She’s had a solid start to the season and has a great base to launch on and become one of the leading lights in the AFLW.
ST KILDA V HAWTHORN – Jimmy Day
Player Focus – Tilly Lucas-Rodd
It feels a little weird choosing someone from a side who got beaten by nine goals, but Lucas-Rodd was one of, if not the best player on the ground. With a game high 14 tackles (double the next best), to go with 20 disposals, Lucas-Rodd was prolific and, against her former side, kept trying to will the Hawks forward and keep them in the game.
Lucas-Rodd relished the removal of the no long-sleeves rule at the Hawks and brought many teammates into the game. Most tackles disrupted the Saints as they looked to move the ball. In some of the stoppages where Lucas-Rodd was not present, the Saints were able to move the ball with ease and there wasn’t as much pressure applied.
While the next half a dozen best were Saints players, without Lucas-Rodd leading the Hawks mids and applying pressure, things could have been a lot worse for Bec Goddard and her team.
BRISBANE V GWS – HB Meyers
Player Focus – Nat Grider
My guess is that you’ll read plenty about Emily Bates’ game this week, but over the journey, I’ve come to expect that type of output from her, and I also expect given her role at Brisbane, we’ll see her featured several times as we cover the best players each week.
So, looking at other players around the ground, it was Nat Grider who stood out to me most. Her efforts to intercept, rebound and lock down when the situation required her to were excellent and with Breanna Koenen putting the clamps on Cora Staunton, it left Grider free to roam around, doing as she pleased.
Grider finished with 14 touches and four tackles, and her positioning to cut any hacks forward off from the Giants was first class.
GOLD COAST V WEST COAST – Matthew Passmore
Player Focus – Allison Drennan
The Suns waltzed over the Eagles in the AFLW on Sunday, winning 47-14 in a dominant display at home. The game was highly physical- with over 160 tackles between the 2 sides, but it was Gold Coast who showed more maturity and physicality, and they didn’t give the Eagles a sniff.
The player I followed was Allison Drennan who impressed me significantly as an uncompromisingly physical player, willing to win her own ball and lead her team in pressuring the opposition. 24 touches with 16 kicks and 3 marks and a goal highlights how well she works around the ground but it was the 9 tackles that impressed me the most. Every opponent was met with a brick wall of pressure as she plied her trade around the contest, and broke free to run, carry and distribute the ball effectively to her teammates.