In a week that saw a flogging or two and a couple of close ones, the Mongrel Team cast their eyes over AFLW proceedings to bring to you their standouts.
WESTERN BULLDOGS VS GEELONG – Alex Docherty
Player Focus –CHLOE SCHEER
A couple of weeks ago, I made mention about where Chloe Scheer’s best football lies within this Geelong team. Up forward she has her moments but throw her into the guts and it’s like watching a bull in a China shop; it becomes total chaos and sometimes, chaos makes for good football.
Well, there were no midfield minutes, but she’s been throwing herself at contests inside the forward half of the ground for the Cats and in conjuncture with the move of Shelley Scott back to the forward line, the Cats have looked a more formidable and capable scoring team in the past couple of weeks.
Scott is more of a finesse forward and is a great at both connecting and providing scores herself, but Scheer’s big body enables her to protect the space and become more of a marking option. But her pressure work is solid stuff too. To say that she’s one of the more important players to this Geelong team is an understatement, when she gets going, the Cats become a tough side to beat.
She kicked 1.2 from 10 disposals and four marks – three of which were contested – but also had three tackles and six score involvements and was one of a few Cats that had a significant influence on inflicting the Dogs, their first loss to Geelong in AFLW history.
HAWTHORN VS WEST COAST – Alex Docherty
Player Focus –JESS DUFFIN
Last week, it was Tahlia Fellows who burst onto the scene and announced herself with a three-goal bag to put the Swans away. This week the player who kicked three for the Hawks is on the other end of her career.
I refer to watching Jess Duffin before the AFL Women’s competition existed and she was playing for Melbourne in an exhibition game at the MCG against Brisbane and tore the game to shreds playing as a stay-at-home full forward; I think it was a bag of six she kicked that morning.
Since then, she’s played predominantly at the other end and has had a massive influence as an intercepting defender. With the Hawks down again at quarter time with a strong breeze helping the Eagles to an early lead, Bec Goddard moved the magnets around and shifted Duffin to a spot in the forward line and it not only did it bring them back in the game, but it was also a bag that won the game for the Hawks.
Her 3.1 were all kicked in the second term as the Eagles had no answers for her smart positioning and strong hands in the air. She took five marks, three of which were contested grabs. The Hawks haven’t got a key forward that commands the centre of the attention; they might have found something in the short term with Duffin.
ADELAIDE V PORT ADELAIDE – Jimmy Day
Player Focus – ANNE HATCHARD
The Crows were dominant in showdown one. They dominated nearly every statistical measure in the game and kept the Power goalless to win by a lazy 10 goals. In a game like this, it’s hard to single out an individual, especially in balanced sides.
It was through the midfield where the Crows really dominated – +22 clearances and 8-0 in centre clearances. Their trio of Eb Marinoff, Chelsea Randall, and Anne Hatchard were brilliant and involved in everything positive for the Crows.
While Marinoff’s game-high 11 tackles, and Randall’s game-high 7 clearance and 3 goals emphasised their importance, the game that Anne Hatchard played was just as important. On numerous occasions Hatchard was able to push forward and take some impressive contested grabs – if it wasn’t for some slightly errant kicking in front of goal, she may have ended up with best on ground honours.
Her ability to spread, to get a handball out of the contest, and to push forward or behind the ball and bail her team out with her aerial prowess, she again showed why she is a vital cog in this well-oiled Adelaide machine. 23 disposals, 9 marks, and 1.2 was a solid outing for the number 33 out on Adelaide Oval.
NORTH MELBOURNE V SYDNEY – JB Eddy
Player Focus – BROOKE BROWN
While North had winners all over the ground, I want to focus on an interesting player that has evolved into a tactical weapon for the Kangas—Brooke Brown.
While Garner, Riddell, King(s) and Rennie will all be in the Best on Ground discussion, a lot has already been said about them, and Brown’s role shouldn’t be overlooked by fans, or by future opponents.
Coach Crocker exploited the lack of height in the Sydney side by playing Emma King and Rennie in the ruck with support from Randall, while Brown (recruited as a ruck/forward) has been used as a sweeper across the backline to complement the rebounding and playmaking ability of Emma Kearney.
The results in this game show that it’s been an inspired choice.
Coming off the bench to set up at half-back, Brown rebuffed any Sydney effort to penetrate into the forward 50. She had a game-high eight intercepts and set up three goals with her playmaking. Her 17 touches (7 contested) gave her a total of 328 metres gained (4th for the match) at a disposal efficiency of 77% (The best of anyone with over 10 touches).
Her game was reminiscent of vintage Shaun Rehn for those old enough to remember the name. Brown made certain that Sydney had no easy entries and that any attempt to bomb long into the forward line was at least met with a contest, if not outright rebuffed.
I’d like to have seen a few more intercept marks from her, but a defender who can turn every 1-on-1 into a contest and hurt opponents on the rebound is an asset to any club. When paired with the white-line-fever intensity of Kearney, North have the ability to hurt teams that try and push forward blindly.
She will face a true test next week against a Brisbane side that won’t be anywhere near as careless with their F50 entries, but if she can put in this sort of effort, North may be looking at an upset, which would be good news indeed for a club currently beset by challenges.
GWS VS CARLTON – Brett Hodgson
Player Focus – MADISON BRAZENDALE
First off, I would be remiss if I did not give honourable mentions to the performances of Giants Alicia Eva, Alice Parker, Haneen Zreika and Georgia Garnett. Throw in the battle of Cora Staunton against Voamua Laloifi and the outstanding ruck effort of Breanne Moody as these players all were worthy of mention and deserved attention in their own right, there was a young Giant, however, that took my notice.
Often stationed on the broadcast side wing, 19-year-old Madison Brazendale was the one that caught my eye in this much-needed win for GWS. The athletic Giant in career game number five was a constant thorn in the Blues side all day. This was the first GWS game I had seen for the season, and the movement of her caught my eye. Possessing an outstanding tank and movement efficiency (hallmarks of her background in athletics) Madison started the game by attacking a few contests at pace off half back, showcasing clean hands and an ability to find space. In the second quarter in particular she turned up the defensive intensity, applying physical pressure to instigate two lasso free kicks, as well as altering many others. It appeared highly evident that she has benefited from some outstanding coaching, despite her relative late exposure to the game as she often pushed hard to the defensive side playing a kick behind- as you might expect from a traditional ruck.
Another promising sign I noted was a running left foot kick at full pace in the second half, and while the kick only travelled mere metres, the fact she even attempted the kick was perhaps a glimpse into the future of what the AFLW can truly become as the next echelon of talent make their way into the ranks. To further add to her weaponry, she also showed great vision and decision-making when attacking from half-back, as well as also covering the defensive side during congestion. I believe the Giants have discovered a future star to add to the warriors they already possess. While in the second half she struggled to find the ball, her defensive acts and work rate were massive factors at holding Carlton off, and although they will not show up on any stat sheet, they would hopefully have been duly noted by other fans of the game.
COLLINGWOOD V ST KILDA – HB Meyers
Player Focus – ASH BRAZILL
There were a few to choose from in this game, as players stood out for different reasons, but the overall game of Ash Brazill, with four quarters of solid football from the half-forward, was enough to sway me to her side or the argument.
Brazill provided a fantastic forward option for the Pies and, to use a good old footy term, “straightened them up” when they went forward. She had clean hands, was both creative and elusive with the footy and damn it, she looked like the best athlete on the park.
Which is probably because she is.
Brazill missed the entirety of last season due to netball commitments, resulting in a Gold Medal in the Commonwealth Games, but with this type of form, the 32-year-old proved that she could be one of the best in the league in this sport, as well.
Also deserving of a mention is Hannah Stuart, who was excellent in the first half for the Saints, Mikala Cann, who got the better of her duel with Georgia Patrikios, and Jamie Lambert, who got plenty of the footy but worked herself into trouble a few times.
And how can I possibly conclude this game review without mentioning the miss from Nicola Stevens late in the last quarter that could have sealed the game for the Saints? A horrid miss, commencing probably the worst three minutes of her carer, concluding with her somehow falling into the back of her teammate, Patrikios, pushing her face first into the ground, and then getting up and running off, leaving Patrikios wondering what the hell happened.
You’d back Stevens to respond, but that miss was right up there with Tayla Harris’ goal square miss a few years back. The sooner she can get back out there and erase that moment, the better.
BRISBANE VS ESSENDON – Alex Docherty
Player Focus –EMILY BATES
It was an annihilation from the Lions who responded brilliantly to their shock loss to the Tigers last Saturday. From the get-go, it was all about domination around the contest and the regulars all stood out like sore thumbs.
Ally Anderson was digging in and exemplifying her work-rate around the ground to get on the end of a lot of the footy. Sophie Conway and Orla O’Dwyer were both brilliant running the ball along the wing and the forwards could’ve had a field day if it weren’t for inaccurate kicking.
Emily Bates’ ability to weave away from stoppage was second to none in this game; between her and Anderson, the pair combined for 17 clearances – six of which were from centre bounces. But for Bates and the Lions, they needed to work themselves back into the contested ball this week after Richmond absorbed their pressure and threw it right back.
Bates had 15 contested possessions, the most of any player on the ground, but also had four score involvements and four tackles in conditions that were more suited for a scrap around the ball. She led all players for clearances with 10 for the match, including three from centre bounce and was doing the in-and-under stuff for her team.
RICHMOND V GOLD COAST – HB Meyers
Player Focus – MON CONTI
Sorry, Tiger fans – I know you guys won, but really… you shouldn’t have, as Maddie Shevlin’s shot at goal in the dying stages of the third quarter was most likely touched in the goal square…
Of course, the AFL doesn’t treat this competition the same as it does the men, so the goal umpire’s shit decision was permitted to stand.
Okay, rant over.
It’s time I gave Mon Conti the credit she deserves. Not that I ever HAVEN’T, but when looking at the Tigers this season, I have chosen to look at players a little less heralded. It was a conscious decision we made before we started this format – otherwise, we’d basically be writing about her every week, wouldn’t we?
But Mon Conti is the heartbeat of the Richmond team, and her effort both offensively and defensively is at the very pointy end of the league.
This was her fourth game of the season with 23-or-more disposals. It was also her fourth game with seven or more tackles. She has the best change of direction in the league, and her vision remains excellent. Must be the Pendlebury-esque basketball background, huh?
She’d kill Pendles, one-on-one.
Also good in this one were Viv Saad, who cops her share of criticism, but really stood up in this one, and Charlie Rowbottom, who is like the female Patrick Cripps with her crash and bash style of play. I hope the Suns are able to get her some high-quality help soon.
MELBOURNE V FREMANTLE – Nick Sluggett
Player Focus – KIARA BOWERS
The Demons were expected to comfortably account for the Dockers in this game ad sure up their position within the top four of the AFLW ladder. Considering the previous time these two teams clashed, where Melbourne defeated Fremantle by 88 points it was a fair assumption.
But the Dockers were hardened by their win against the Eagles last weekend and even though they were rank underdogs, Fremantle were united behind their star, Kiara Bowers, who had performed so wonderfully against the Eagles and repeated the dose against the Demons.
Bowers was irresistible for three quarters, as she drove the resistance and carried the Fremantle midfield on her back. Leading the match in disposals and tackles, as she put on an absolute clinic of how to play contested football. She was clean with ball in hand and ferocious whenever she snagged a Demons player within her grasp. Her work rate and ability to move from contest to contest was marvellous as she worked over the two Demons mostly matched up on her, in Hanks and Purcell, on her way to keeping the dockers within a kick of the Demons until part way into the last quarter.
However, the class of the Demons was too great as they had too many winners across the field for Bowers to combat with her lieutenants. The likes of the aforementioned Hanks and Purcell were doing their own good work going the other way. Paxman was doing her best up forward for the Demons along with Duffy and Pearce. Adding in Birch and Lampard across half back and the Demons continued to show why they are one of the highly rated teams in the competition. They quickly went from less than a goal in front to cruising with a three goal lead in a matter of a few minutes in the last quarter.