AFLW – What I’m Looking Forward To In Round Three

Round Three of AFLW action is about to drop and, as always, The Doc is all over it.

Here’s what he is looking forward to seeing this week.


GEELONG V NORTH MELBOURNE – Everything – this is a top-four clash!

We’re only two weeks into the season and are already looking at a game that will most likely shape the complexion of the top four, let alone the top eight. It’s such a shame that this game will be on at the rancid time slot of 5:05 – but Geelong fans have to get down and watch this game.

It’ll be a beauty; both teams come into this game on the back of a ripping opening fortnight – one could argue North’s performance against a battling Carlton, on top of a dominant performance against St Kilda in week one, have them in good stead.

It’s a big test for the Cats forwards, who have been historically shut down by the Roos. Chloe Scheer faces a big test against Jasmine Ferguson, who has started the season in career-best form, whilst they’ll be hoping Jackie Parry can continue her excellent start to the year with another couple of goals to add to her six for the season to date.

Then the midfield… Dios mio! The mids from both sides have been electric to start the year. Jasmine Garner has been best on the ground for North in both games, but Ash Riddell’s pace and ability to spread the ground have been just as valuable to the side this year. Also, seeing Mia King on increased midfield minutes in the absence of Jenna Bruton has seen an improved year from her, averaging career-best numbers in disposals, tackles and clearances.

Seeing this trio against Georgie Prespakis, who was well held last week, Amy McDonald and Nina Morrison will be mouth-watering for the neutrals—two outstanding contested teams. Don’t expect this one to be a high-scoring encounter.


GWS V RICHMOND – Tarni Evans

This will be another exciting game; after disappointing losses in week two, both teams will be keen to atone for their performances. But more so the Giants, who haven’t registered a win to date this season.

One player who has caught my eye (as I’m sure it’s seen the eyes of many others, too) is Tarni Evans. Back in the 2020 draft class, Tarni Evans was a highly rated player outside of Victoria – great size, great athleticism and tremendous potential with what she can do with the ball.

The first few seasons have been a slow grind, but if the first two weeks indicate the year ahead, we may be in for a breakout season treat. Her numbers have exploded in many facets.

Disposals have gone up to 20 per game after averaging 14.7 in season seven. Marks have gone up from 2.5 per game to four, tackles from 2.2 in season seven to 4.5 per game, 3.7 rebound 50s per game to 10 per game and metres gained from 287 last year to 576 after two rounds – which is over double! And her intercept possessions have gone up from 4.9 per game to six.

Of course, when you run and attempt to take the game on, you become more susceptible to turnover, and Evans has become no exception. The turnover and clanger numbers are alarming – 8.5 turnovers per game and 5.5 clangers per game are both career highs, too – but given that she is still young in her career, it’s something to be mindful of.

I look forward to watching her play this weekend. Her dare out of half-back will be one of a few keys to knock off the Tigers.


ADELAIDE V ESSENDON – What can Essendon dish up away from home?

Adelaide in South Australia – regardless of which oval they play at – is always a tough ask, and for the Bombers to continue their unbeaten start, they need to move past a Crows outfit that is only starting to fire up.

Everyone will be quick to point out just how good Maddy Prespakis was once again in the clinches against a very game Saints outfit last week, but I think the players around her are finally starting to click alongside.

Georgia Gee had one of her best games last week, and Sophie Alexander looks more comfortable in her role as the secondary ruck in this team. Sophie Van De Heuvel looked excellent on the wing, and we’re seeing Amber Clarke improve weekly.

How they stand against an Adelaide side that dominated Richmond last week will be different. We know Ebony Marinoff and Anne Hatchard are the stars of the Adelaide midfield. Still, we’re seeing a rejigged Crom middle, with Danielle Ponter, Abbie Ballard, and Chelsea Randall all facing significant midfield minutes last week.

Jess Allan took the mantle of the number one ruck role, which led to Caitlin Gould’s three goals last week. That must not change; Gould’s hands will be difficult for whoever gets the match-up on her – you’d likely think it’s Ellyse Gamble who gets it.



Be prepared for the worst if you’re a dyed-in-the-wool Bulldogs fan like myself.

It’s been a shocking start to the year from the Dogs, and if we thought last year’s trip to Casey Fields was terrible, this one will get a hell of a lot worse. Melbourne has shown no signs of a premiership hangover as the reigning premiers, as evidenced by their eight-goal final-term blitz in Canberra last week against the GWS Giants.

There’s a lot to be concerned about or excited about, depending on how you look at the glass and whether it’s half-full or half-empty. I’ve already conceded that this will be a whooping, and I’ll dare to say it: the Dees will launch the ton on the Dogs on Saturday afternoon.

Unless there is some miracle that sees the entire Melbourne side suffer food poisoning on the eve of the game, or somehow the Bulldogs find extra legs to help them run on the outside, then all I can say is sit back and watch the premiership team go to work.

Tyla Hanks is off a career-best game last week with 30 disposals and 12 clearances. Kate Hore kicked a bag of five and could look to top it this week. Many players in this Melbourne team have found levels that I wasn’t sure they could reach.

Alyssa Bannan is a case in point; she has two bags of three goals to start the year, and her speed has caused many problems over the past couple of years. Sarah Lampard is being pushed onto a spot on the wing and is playing like it’s a Sunday kick at the local park; she’s that good at it, and seeing players like Blaithin Mackin and Shelley Heath play their roles to the letter and then add more sizzle to that steak has made watching the Dees all the more fun so far this year.


FREMANTLE V HAWTHORN – Can the Hawks go two in a row?

This will be one of the more intriguing matches of the round as both sides enter with a record of 1-1 and will look to keep themselves in touch with the top eight.

These two sides squared off in the tail-end of the season last year, and the Dockers managed to get through in a tight game. I’m interested to see how the Hawks can go this week because this is another excellent chance for a win after watching the Dockers first-hand last week.

I had questions about the Hawks after round one because they struggled a lot with their ball movement, but last week showed that if the game is on their terms, they can mix it with the sides around them.

They’ll hope Tamara Smith comes through from a minor shoulder niggle (and a one-week suspension). While Emily Bates and Tilly Lucas-Rodd are great midfielders, Smith’s grunt work and defensive pressure will unquestionably help lift this midfield even more against a Dockers side that has got Kiara Bowers back and in excellent form, and Hayley Miller was also wonderful last week.

We know the Dockers are an excellent pressure side, but what concerned me was the lack of scoring options up forward. Aine Tighe is heralded as the cornerstone of the forward line, but we also saw her completely silenced up forward. Orlagh Lally and Sarah Wielstra had glimpses as tall targets last week, but I think they still need time. The decision to move Ange Stannett from defender to forward has been a revelation, but she, too, will need more time.


ST KILDA V PORT ADELAIDE – It’s crunch time, St Kilda

Last week against Essendon was a better effort, but the score will read another loss on the Saints, heaping a little more pressure on them and coach Nick Dal Santo to perform. There’s not as much pressure on Port – they’re still a young expansion side finding their way with a core of young players at their disposal.

There were many positives last week – they nearly broke even in the clearances after having their pants pulled down by a much better outfit the week before, but the thing that alarms me about the Saints is their lack of control when they get their hands on the ball.

They were sliced up in round one, and against Essendon, they conceded 31 more marks than their opposition. So not only is there a lack of control, but they struggle to defend when the ball is in transition, even though the Saints won the tackle count by seven on the weekend.

They’re having a crack, there’s no doubt about this, but the lack of poise and control is a concern. I get that with a team that’s faced a mass change in personnel; it will always take longer to gel than other sides with minimal change.

But for a side entering their fifth season, results must start coming quickly. And this game against Port – their first home game of the year – is one they must win.

Both forward lines were underwhelming last week – after a good opening game for the Power in round one, Ash Saint was unsighted against the Lions, only registering four touches for no score. It’s a big game for the key forward recruits – Jesse Wardlaw has been poor at the Saints to start the season – who can get the most out of their respective big-name key forward recruit?


WEST COAST V CARLTON – Give us something to believe in, Eagles

In the aftermath of an embarrassing performance on the Gold Coast, the critical stakeholders at the Eagles have come out and made statements about the loss.

Michelle Cowan, the head of women’s football at West Coast, declared losses like that unacceptable and intolerable. Head coach Michael Prior said there were honest conversations in their Monday review, and Emma Swanson has vowed the team will be better this week.

Well, it certainly won’t get any worse, can it? There is a heap of pressure on the Eagles this week, and given they’re still wading through a rough rebuilding phase, they should be fired up at home against a Carlton side that is only two games in a fresh reset.

The most damning thing about the Eagles last week is the contested work. They were smashed by 53 in the contested ball, and the clearance count was -27 – including a 14-3 crushing from centre bounces; that needs to improve this week and should.

There is good news with Zoe Wakfer being handed her debut. She was a good story on draft night; being the twin sister of highly-rated prospect Lauren Wakfer and far less experienced than her, she wasn’t expecting her name to be called out on the night.

But over a year after she got drafted by the Eagles, the club say they’re happy with her progress, and we can expect her to be played across the defensive half as a key defender.




This week, we’ll get a proper examination of where the Gold Coast Suns sit in the AFL hierarchy.

I was always told as a young man that you’re only as good as your last game. If we’re going by that statement, then the Suns are an excellent side to watch, and I hope they can bring it this week on the road against a Collingwood side that got their game back on track last weekend against Fremantle.

What impressed me about the Pies’ performance last week is that they controlled a lot of the territory for three quarters, went pound for pound with Fremantle’s tackling pressure, and found some players other than their usual suspects that stood up in vital moments.

Nell Morris-Dalton’s two goals in the opening quarter set the scene. Sarah Rowe on the winning was on from the get-go. Aishling Sheridan’s work through the guts was first-rate. Sophie Casey consistently beat out a player who was much taller than her. Sabrina Frederick was more than serviceable in the ruck, and Grace Campbell’s defensive pressure was, at times, great to watch.

They need to be on again this week because we’ve seen the Suns’ midfield do great things. It looks like Charlie Rowbottom will go up another three gears this year. Claudia Whitfort is starting to emerge as a promising talent, and I’ve loved Lucy Single’s start to the year, seeing more minutes in the midfield.

Bohanna, Dupuy and Stanton are finding their synergy again as the focal points forward. I suspect Livingstone will get the job on Dupuy; potentially, Casey will get the job on Bohanna and maybe swing Alana Porter from the forward line to the backline and match up on Stanton.

This game will be a good one.



BRISBANE V SYDNEY – Continuing to see the Swans build

It’s been one of the more refreshing stories to start us off in season eight, and that’s seeing the Swans compete and stay in games.

Last week, the difference in accuracy in front of goals in the quarter killed the Swans in their game against the Cats; the Swans would kick four behinds, while the Cats would nail five through the big ones the other way. But what will please Scott Gowans and the Sydney faithful is they won the inside 50 count against the Cats and weren’t too far away from either the tackle count or the contested possession count.

Like last week, no one expects the Swans to get the four points against a Brisbane side that responded to a first-round defeat with an emphatic performance.

But I do look forward to seeing more of Laura Gardiner in the middle – I start to sound like a broken record when I say that she is so essential to any team when she’s purely in the guts, with 27 disposals, nine tackles and seven clearances off 84 per cent of centre bounce attendances is precisely what she was brought into the club to do – her and Molloy make such a great tandem in the midfield. By round 10, it’s something we’ll be talking about a hell of a lot more frequently.

It’s also worth mentioning the job Tanya Kennedy did on Georgie Prespakis, who kept her to just 15 disposals for the match after registering nine to quarter time last week. I don’t think there’s no doubt that she’ll get the job on Ally Anderson this week, especially after her gut-running resulted in a 36-disposal dominant display against the Power.

That will be an excellent test for her and the Swans midfield; the Swans were well beaten in the clearances last week, and the Lions were dominant in the middle.


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