The Doc’s AFLW Likes and Dislikes – Round Eight

Each wee, The Doc casts his eye over the round of AFLW and sees plenty he likes…

… and some that he doesn’t.

Here is his wrap-up of Round Eight.




  1. Real deal Tigers

Richmond have won six in a row and are charging towards finals. This week wasn’t easy, but these sorts of games define sides. Carlton opened up with the first four goals of the match and playing like they had a spot in the finals up for grabs. Four goals down at quarter time, the Tigers found their rhythm in the second quarter and managed to chip away at the deficit.

When Courtney Wakefield kicked her fourth goal midway through the last quarter, the Tigers never let go of the lead. Wakefield’s season has been super impressive and I’m not shy of being honest – if she was more consistent with her set shots for goal, she could’ve locked down a spot in the All-Australian forward line. Perhaps there’s still time; Ash Woodland failed to kick a goal against Brisbane and Kate Shierlaw has a big job Sunday against the Bulldogs.

But perhaps the one player I’d like to talk about the most is Mon Conti. After a promising start to the year, she’s returned disposal numbers of 15, 14, 23 and 18 in the past month and if you’re judging her to the lofty standards of years gone by, it’s not as good as she can be. However, she bounced back to her best with 30 disposals, six score involvements and five clearances to be one of Richmond’s best players.


  1. The premiership favourites

As far as must-watch football goes, this was one I was very excited to watch. Even though the result fizzled out the longer it went on, I continue to be in awe of how Brisbane play their football. Adelaide are a superb outfit, but the way Brisbane chased and harassed got in their face, it broke the Crows by half time.

The Lions are a renowned tackling side, and once again showed their worth on their opposition; +20 in the tackles and led by the likes of Cathy Svarc (12 tackles) and Ally Anderson (seven). I love Ally, even in a premier side, the vibe feels like the outsiders fail to give her the respect and recognition she deserves. She’s a workhorse and whether she gets her touches of the football or not, she busts her tail off for her club every week.

I suppose as well, we talk about their forwards and how potent they are, but what about their defenders? Adelaide had every right to walk into quarter time with a sizeable lead considering the number of inside 50 entries they had. But the willingness and the fitness from the mids to come back and help flood the numbers and make it real scrappy is one of a few hallmarks of a champion team.


  1. Is it time to acknowledge Jazzy as the best in the competition?

As we approach the end of the home and away season, the thoughts about who becomes the best player in the competition get louder and louder. I know that Alex Catalano has jumped on board the Jasmine Garner bandwagon as the best player in the competition and has widely praised her work all throughout this season and after her game against Port Adelaide, it’s a strong argument to be made.

The only one I’d have in contention with her as the top dog in the AFLW right now would be Anne Hatchard, but she was way down on her lofty standards on Friday night, quite possibly Ebony Marinoff too – she’s been super consistent this season. Garner just continues to find ways to dominate games of football and this one was no different. She currently leads the coaches’ association votes and is likely to receive another perfect 10 by the coaches this week.

Midfielders who kick goals are worth their weight in gold in the AFLW and so far there are very few people who are averaging 20+ and over 0.5 goals per game: Garner, Hatchard, Maddy Prespakis and Monique Conti are the only midfielders who average over 20 disposals and 0.5 or more goals per game this season.

Her stats against Port Adelaide: 27 disposals, two goals, nine marks, 717 metres gained, seven score involvements and six inside 50s – another brilliant day out for Jazzy.


  1. The Swans are on the right track

There hasn’t been much positive to talk about the Swans this year, but this game was easily their best performance of the season. The Swans eclipsed their highest number of goals in a game by halftime and led the Dons by as much as two goals midway through the second term.

But what separated the Dons from the Swans was their seasoned campaigners: Toogood, Cain, Bannister and Prespakis all had their say throughout the game and the Swans don’t have anyone who can command a game… not right now at least. But there are some good signs all around. Cynthia Hamilton is a star and I’d like to see a bit more of her forward of the ball – it feels somewhat predictable when it’s just Privitelli and Lochland the prime targets all the time. Sofia Hurley (12 disposals, six tackles and two goals) had easily her best game, Ally Morphett played her best game of the season in ruck and Sarah Dargan looks to have settled in the forward half, kicking a pair of goals.

They fell short when it mattered the most, but compared to a month ago, the difference is chalk and cheese.


  1. Olivia Purcell

If you invested your stock in Liv Purcell when she was traded to Melbourne last year, then you’re probably laughing at the top of the mountain right now. The Dees knew they were getting a premier inside midfielder, but it was going to take her some time and patience as she recovered from the knee injury she sustained at the tail-end of the 2021 season.

Including Saturday night’s performance against the Suns, Purcell’s last month has seen her record disposal numbers of 32, 25, 26 and 30 – contested numbers are up too: 12, 12, 11 and 16 in the past month after only reaching double digits just once in the opening four games of the season.

This is reminiscent of Liv Purcell in the 2020 Geelong team: a hard-nosed, blue-collared type of midfielder who consistently bores in to every contest and it was that type of work ethic that earned her an All-Australian blazer that year – and she’s on track to do it again: 2nd in the competition for disposals and top 10 in the competition for score involvements and 10.5 contested possessions per game is a handy number too.


  1. The best defence in the competition

The Dockers did themselves no favours, but let’s give the Pies their dues here, they are a bloody stingy side to play against. Even without their two best ball winners and prime movers in Bri Davey and Brittany Bonnici, the Pies either command games or they put their dukes up.

Out of the current top eight, they’ve only played Adelaide and Geelong and have split the ledger at 1-1 with a kick deciding the margin either way. Alex Miller said on the A3 Footy Podcast that they are the best defensive team in the competition and with a points against average of 16.5 conceded per game, it’s a hard case to argue against. To even further the point, they’ve only conceded four goals or more in a game once this season, and that was against St Kilda – a game that they got away with.

The big trio in defence are Stacey Livingstone, Lauren Butler and Sophie Casey, but the runners elite too. Alana Porter has a lot of dash about her and Jordyn Allen is all class, but the players further afield who tackle and press and make the opposition uncomfortable should be praised as well. Mikala Cann has been outstanding this season whilst watching Chloe Molloy and Ruby Schleicher move into the midfield on a more permanent basis has been a fun developing story to watch.


  1. A reminder that Alyce Parker is very good at football.

A thrilling finish at Henson Park. Hawthorn were looking steadfast for four wins in a row, but were dominated in a lot of key areas around the ground. The Giants beat them in clearances by 13, inside 50s by 19, contested ball by 22 and uncontested ball by 58. 14 scoring shots to eight should’ve seen the Giants home and home comfortably.

Thank God Alyce Parker still exists for the orange team, right? It’s been a season of growing pains for the Giants and players are developing, Parker has also been trying to work on the outside game which has separated her from the very best of the competition. But in a game where the contest was key, we got a swift reminder that Alyce Parker is still one of the best in the world at extractions from the stoppages.

Parker amassed 30 disposals, 18 of which were contested, along with 11 clearances in a clear best-on-ground performance. The only other player that could rival her was the work of Georgia Garnett, who once again, was simply outstanding in her lead up work and her abilities to get others involved and into positions to score – with 1.1 and two goal assists from seven score involvements, 20 disposals and eight marks.


  1. Georgie, we missed you.

Also, should serve a reminder that Georgie Prespakis is almost a god among the humans as a footballer. Whilst Nina Morrison was bloody strong in the two weeks that Prespakis was absent, we got a casual refresher about how destructive she can be around the contest in this one and just how lethal Nina can be on the outside.

Prespakis currently averages 22 disposals, 12.8 contested possessions, six clearances and nine tackles in her second season in the competition, which I’ll casually remind you, she’s still only 19 years of age. Geelong fans should be frothing at the mouth for what she brings – she’s a tough contested beast and football fans should be salivating at her ceiling, because it’s limitless.

She returned and had 21 disposals, 11 contested, eight clearances and 12 tackles in this game and was a key contributor to help put the Eagles away and keep the Cats within striking distance of the top four.





  1. Has Sophie Conway got a case to answer?

We’re told in modern football that the head is sacrosanct in football and an errant elbow from Sophie Conway after she was dealt with in a tackle by Chelsea Randall opened up her lip, required stitches and forced her off the ground for a little bit of the game.

These sorts of incidents are hard to judge. Conway made the comment the following day that the elbow is not what she is about as a player, and I get that, I think a lot of us who have played the game inadvertently raise the elbow just to push us off a player, but it will be interesting to see how the match review officer takes a look at the incident.

I don’t feel as if there was much malice towards the elbow and I don’t think she meant anything by it, so you’d take that as careless conduct. However, how the impact is assessed could be anything. I wouldn’t be surprised if it is handed a reprimand. If it gets a week or more, then the AFLW must maintain the stance and give the competition a fair warning that hits like that won’t be tolerated.


  1. What is it with the Suns and the top teams?

Heading into round eight, it is almost safe to say that seven of the eight spots are locked in. A bit similar to the men’s competition this year; who wants eighth spot?

Last week the Dogs showed out like they didn’t want it, Carlton are continuing to find ways to shoot themselves in the foot and Essendon could’ve been there if they’d won one or two of those close ones. The Suns occupied the eighth spot on the ladder heading into their clash against Melbourne and capitulated against another top side.

The Suns have been competitive this season against the teams around them, but the margins against the top sides are damning: 26 points against North Melbourne, but really, they hadn’t kicked a goal up until junk time, 73 points against Brisbane and 49 points against Melbourne on Saturday night.

It was a ruthless demolition job that saw the Suns only register nine inside 50s for the match, whilst Melbourne recorded a further 36. They also had nearly 90 more disposals and won the uncontested ball quite significantly – +69 and +23 in marks too. The Dees were too fast and too strong off the turnover all night.


  1. Where are the Saints really at?

After kicking two goals in the opening five minutes of play, the Saints only kicked a further 1.2 in three and a half quarters against a Western Bulldogs side that had been vulnerable in recent weeks. And if it weren’t for wasteful kicking, the Dogs should’ve ran away with this one, because they were well on top in a lot of key statistical areas.

The most damning one if you’re a Saints fan is the uncontested ball; the Dogs were +46 in the outside game and that’s not good enough. The key culprit was Ellie Blackburn who impacted more and more as the game got deeper. Where’s the accountability at St Kilda? We know that Patrikios, Vesely and Stuart are good ball winners, but how are they when the backs are against the wall in crunch time?

It also doesn’t help that the number one ruck currently is a full back in Lucy Burke, admirable in the state league, but she’s battling in a league above currently and Alice Edmonds gave her a bath and then some.


  1. Where are the Dogs really at?

They’re a game clear inside the top eight, but I refuse to remain convinced about this Bulldogs team heading into the last two weeks of the season. West Coast next week in Western Australia is not going to be a walk in the park by any means and Carlton following that. This team must be ready to embrace the challenge.

There were many instances of ill-discipline that sides like Richmond, Geelong and North Melbourne will feed off of and the entries inside 50 remain shambolic beyond belief. Nathan Burke talked about the continuing to break down the dam wall against the Saints, peppering the entries with high up and unders and continually burning the forward options will not break any wall inside the top eight.

15 scoring shots to five is alarming when you only win by 15. The Dogs should’ve sewn it up by half time, but I think there were at least three times the ball hit the post in the second term alone. We make the argument about the youth of this team, but there’s only so much you can take that excuse and run with it. The effort was much better this week, but the polish in the forward half remains the same – too bloody inconsistent.


  1. Depleted Dockers

It feels like every week there’s something to say about Fremantle. This week they lost a spate of players to injury and situation has been so dire that injury replacement players had to be called up for Freo to even field a team.

I’ll give them this. I expected Collingwood to rout them by 10 goals and they lost by only 29. The thing is though, the Dockers went without a goal for the second time this season. One of the very few things I’m grateful for from Fox Footy is the ability to get some footage from inside the huddles during the breaks and Kara Antonio didn’t mince her words with the forwards. She’s spot on, it’s a dysfunctional bunch who just don’t know where to lead and it creates severe disconnect.

I have confidence Amy Franklin will get there in the future and I’m hopeful Roxy Roux will be too, but they’re just not getting their hands to the ball enough. The recruits they brought in – Gore, Mulholland, Kauffman – have been underwhelming and the stars such as Cuthbertson, the Antonios and Gabby O’Sullivan have been hurt or playing hurt and the depth just isn’t sustainable.



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