AFLW – The Doc’s Likes and Dislikes from Round Four

As per usual, The Doc is all over the action from AFLW.

Here are his Likes and Dislikes from.Round Four




T. Hanks very much

Many midfielders at this stage of the season feel they have done enough to be considered for a spot in the All-Australian midfield up to this point. After round three, I’ve got Mon Conti, Jasmine Garner, Maddy Prespakis, Anne Hatchard and Laura Gardiner in my rolling team as Midfielders. Ella Roberts is in there as a forward rotation, but she can play midfield, too.

I’ve got some big decisions to make this week announcing the changes for the A3 Footy Podcast, and one of them will be whether or not Tyla Hanks is included in this team. The newly-christened vice-captain has gone about her footy this year, much like the new captain – and has not skipped a beat. You could argue that she’s having a career-best season.

She got the maximum ten votes from the coaches last week against the Dogs; how does she fare this week? It has to be up there again. Another 26 disposals this week, and whilst not as prominent in the clearances this week (four), she was still able to use the ball efficiently and was involved in a lot of Melbourne’s scoring chains – 10 score involvements, including a goal assist, led all players in this game.

Before this week, she was averaging career-highs in disposals (23.7 per game), clearances (7.3 per game), goal assists (1.3 per game), score involvements (7.3 per game) and inside 50s (five per game).

Few of us have stated from day one the potential Hanks brought as a midfielder, and it’s now beginning to show in one of the most dominant teams in the competition.


Emphatic from the Crom

If you have any doubts about this Crows side this year, I think it’s safe to say you can put it to rest this week. There’s no doubt they’ll be top four and there again when we get to the season’s pointy end.

I don’t know how Matthew Clarke manages to get a team that has won three flags since the competition’s inception to strive for excellence continually. The Crows became the third side to crack the ton in the history of the competition and, in doing so, set their record in the process with the league’s highest score.

Ebony Marinoff (40 disposals, nine clearances, eight tackles, eight marks and 737 metres gained) reminded us all of her stance among the competition’s best midfielders – it was a dominant display from her. Eloise Jones’s four goals highlighted her best qualities as a player: great tank, elite skill set, and so dangerous when the Crows are on the counter.

There’s a lot to like about their lesser-knowns on the side. Sarah Goodwin is slowly showing why she was so highly rated in the draft last year, Deni Varnhagen had an excellent cameo role, Yvonne Bonner had the 1.2 but is quietly going about her work and being a hazardous presence in the forward line, and Jess Waterhouse is a pure footballer –knows the ins and outs of the game so well.


Kate Dempsey is an unsung hero

I was very close to giving this segment to Grace Egan for her game, but I always feel as if Kate Dempsey doesn’t get enough flowers for her work across half-back and the wing over the years.

Against a plucky Carlton, she was easily among the best five or six on the ground. Mon Con was at her best, Egan was outstanding when the whips were cracking, and Eilish Sheerin’s offensive desperation in the back half was crucial.

But Dempsey’s want to move the ball anytime she got it, plus her silky skills by hand or foot, should not be ignored in this game: 26 disposals, four marks, 472 metres gained, seven inside 50s, six intercept possessions and four score involvements from this game.

As far as wingers go, she’s pushing the top five in the competition regarding her ability to run the ball and link up. As far as most improved players, I can think off the top of my head, maybe two or three players that could be ahead of her to this point of the season.

So far, she’s averaging career-highs in disposals (19.5 per game), inside 50s (four per game), intercept possessions (five per game), and metres gained (395 per game).

The Tigers aren’t exactly putting the foot to the throat of teams so far this year, but they are putting the wins on the board, and it’s about time we recognise that it is more than just Conti in the midfield that is getting it done.


Nina Morrison

Given the ACL injuries she has been put through during her career, it is just a joy to watch Nina Morrison out there and playing footy. Everything else she does is just a bonus, so it’s so damn pleasing to see her cut through every opponent she goes toe-to-toe with.

In past weeks, we’ve seen Morrison attend more centre bounces than usual, but with the inclusion of Becky Webster this week, it would’ve made things interesting to see how the key players in the middle would go.

No such issues this week. Amy McDonald had 30 touches and six clearances. Webster had 27 touches, 376 metres gained and looked like she hadn’t missed a step. Georgie Prespakis only had 21 but still managed a goal and nine tackles.

And then there’s Morrison, who had a great day out, kicking a goal, but also finishing with 32 disposals, 11 of which were contested, along with five marks, two goal assists from five score involvements and two contested marks.

It was a performance that lived up to the billing of being a number one draft pick back in 2018; I hope we can see her continue on this rich vein of form she’s currently in because it’s excellent for footy.


The comeback arc

The Saints were 26 points down early in the last quarter as Collingwood piled on back-to-back goals quickly, and we were ready to ask how much the Pies would win by and how long for Nick Dal Santo and his reign as senior coach.

However, some changes helped the Saints roar home with a wet sail at three-quarter time. On top of kicking the last goal in the second term, they kicked five goals unanswered in the last to ease the pressure off Dal Santo and give them a memorable win in Moorabbin, dispelling what happened about 12 months ago when Nicola Stevens’s inexplicable miss cost them a big boil-over win.

The move that started it all was Jesse Wardlaw shifting into the ruck full-time. For the first three quarters, she’d been well beaten and a victim of horrible inside 50 entries, but she ran Sabrina Frederick ragged in the last term and had a good influence.

Georgia Patrikios was another dubbed a hero in the comeback, being moved into a more forward role – kicked an important goal and was instrumental in setting up a few others. Ella Friend was the focal point forward, forcing Stacey Livingstone to make uncharacteristic errors that cost goals.

Jaimee Lambert (19 disposals, one goal) and Liv Vesely (21 disposals and eight tackles) were the driving force for most of the afternoon, only to be brought to bear in the last term.

And the best thing is, they’re a great chance to go back-to-back wins next week against the Bulldogs. Winning form is good form.


Queens of the Jungle roar again

North Melbourne in Tasmania is supposed to represent an unbeatable fortress. Up to halftime, they certainly looked the side capable of going the distance this year – four goals to one in the first half set the scene, led once again by the brilliance of Jasmine Garner, who will again be hard to top in the coaches votes this week.

But as we’ve seen repeatedly with this Brisbane side, they are not to be deterred. Ally Anderson’s third term had to be seen to be believed. There was some expectation on her to help the Lions get back to the promised land this season. Still, her ability to work defensively and offensively can sometimes get overlooked due to the flair the Lions have around the ground.

Of her 28 disposals, 15 came from the third term and had seven of her 12 contested possessions. She also finished with five clearances for the night. I have been impressed with Jade Ellenger’s role as the ‘fix-it’ type of player this season. She’s played a bit of everywhere this season, impacting her ability to run and carry wherever she goes – she’s a beauty.

And no Dakota Davidson? No worries – Shannon Campbell was again up forward in this game to offer up an aerial presence, and I thought she competed hard – she had five tackles and took a couple of marks, but she came up with the go-ahead goal to tie things up with five minutes to go for the game.

Questions were asked after their round one loss, but at 3-1 and back in the top four – they are well and truly back.


Ally Morphett is All-Australian

After her dominant performance in round one against the Giants, a few of us asked where she could sit among the competition’s best rucks. She’s currently the front-runner to take the ruck mantle in the All-Australian side, and this week only further enhanced her claims to the throne.

It’s interesting reflecting on last season; she was dropped a couple of times and, by large, was a massive letdown for the Swans in a season where they had very few stars and had been flogged constantly.

The story following her nomination for the Rising Star award was inspiring. You could’ve seen that her fitness was not up to scratch, but credit to her for identifying the flaw in her game and even more so for going back and working on it over the off-season.

To the game, she destroyed Lauren Wakfer in the ruck contest and around the ground – 34 hitouts, ten clearances, and 20 disposals is an awesome display. But to further ram the point home about how dominant she has been this season – she currently averages 61 ruck contests per game, averaging 33.8 hitouts and seven to advantage. On top of that, she averages seven clearances per game.

It has been an enormous transformation over the last 12 months, and by the end of the season, we could very well be saying Ally Morphett is the best ruck in the competition. She’s got the tank, she’s got the skill set and the hunger around the contest.


Too good once more

Bonnie Toogood would have to lead Essendon’s best and fairest count to this point of the season. It’s been a consistent start to the year for the Bombers co-captain and, once again, proved herself to be a key piece to the Bombers’ 3-1 start.

Fremantle had no answers for her ability to move up the ground so comfortably and no answers for her potency in the forward half with two goals. She could’ve easily finished with more –five shots on goal for 2.2 from seven score involvements.

I’ve picked up that her aerobic capacity has improved since coming across from the Bulldogs, where she was utilised more as a stay-at-home forward. She’s moving much more fluently and doesn’t look as gassed as a few years ago.

On top of that, she’s adding extra layers to her game. Not many key forwards can go up the ground and get 20 touches in a game like she can. Not many key forwards can also go out and lay nearly double-figures in tackles – nine of them she laid in this game, and four of them were in attacking 50.

After an impressive first season in the red and black, she was named to the All-Australian squad. Is she on the cusp of breaking into the final side when this season ends?


Bloody Meara

There’d be a few Suns girls shouting Meara Girvan coffees this week up on the Gold Coast because she saved them from coughing up what was a three-goal lead late in the third quarter.

The Dogs will get some credit for how they clawed back away from home, but the result could’ve been vastly different if it wasn’t for Girvan’s heroics in defence. She stood tall like a massive brick wall and did not allow the Dogs forward in the dying stages of this game.

This Suns team is littered with good stories. Tara Bohanna rose from VFLW talent to Suns captain, Jaq Dupuy’s emergence from a top-up player to superb ruck-forward, and Claudia Whitfort rose from discarded Saint to a gun midfielder.

Meara Girvan was picked up by the Suns in the supplementary draft earlier in the year after a stint in Queensland and previously in the SANFLW. She’s a player that has solidified herself as an integral part of the Suns defensive unit.

She led the Suns for intercept possessions with 10 for the match and added eight contested possessions to her tally in a stunning breakout performance.






Where the Hawks got caught out

The Hawks are very stiff to be in this section this week. Because I felt for most of the evening, they brought the fight to Melbourne, which will be pleasing for Bec Goddard… to a degree.

By full-time, they weren’t too far off the reigning premiers regarding critical metrics. They won the inside 50 count by one, -7 in clearances overall, -9 in contested possessions and the tackle count saw them win by 22. It says they can do the gritty stuff – six Hawks had six tackles or more.

The constant for the Hawks this season is the outside stuff against the better sides and their lack of forward potency. The Hawks lost the uncontested possession count by 72 and the marks by 30. Up forward, they only had four marks inside 50 to Melbourne’s 19 and just two contested marks for the entire game, while Melbourne had 11.

Whilst the Hawks have a solid engine room, led by the likes of Emily Bates (21 disposals and nine tackles), they do not have a forward structure capable of doing much against those competing for a spot in the top eight.

Aine McDonagh again got on the scoresheet this week, which is excellent, but who steps up when the going gets tough? Wasn’t Greta Bodey this week (six disposals). Bridie Hipwell (12 disposals, two shots on goal) is still developing, and Kristy Stratton (six disposals, six tackles and one behind) is a mature-aged recruit with previous AFLW experience – I need scoreboard impact from her.


Is it a fitness issue?

I have serious questions about the Giants here; many are around their fitness base. In their four last quarters for the year, they have kicked a combined total of 0.1 – in terms of points against, they’ve conceded 17.13.

It’s worth mentioning that 14 of those 17 goals have come at the expense of Melbourne and Adelaide, but they have barely fired a shot against Richmond last week and Sydney in round one.

It’s easy to point at the younger players coming through, but there is only so much that excuse can take you in football. The Giants start well and are competitive and staunch, but they cannot go the distance in games, and that concerns me going towards the second half of the year.

No Alicia Eva in this game hurts them, too – she is practically the heart and soul of the club. Still, I thought Alyce Parker (31 touches and ten clearances), Nicola Barr (23 touches) and Rebecca Beeson (22 disposals) all toiled away.

There’s plenty to like about the kids: Emily Pease (18 disposals and a goal) is again finding her form. Tarni Evans (19 disposals) is about as close an All-Australian lock as it gets in the defence. Zarlie Goldsworthy is proving her ability as a genuine future star of the competition.

But all that means nothing if they can’t finish it in final quarters.


Interviews mid-game

Those who know me know I probably have flogged this to death, but why on earth is Fox interviewing players mid-game?

A case in point was during the Richmond and Carlton game – During the second quarter, Maddie Shevlin was being interviewed; meanwhile, Breann Moody had a set shot from a tough angle, which she nailed – a great set shot for goal that would’ve been nice for the commentators actually to call.

The big shots in the media want us as fans to get as much insight into the game as possible, but there are other ways to do this. Have an extra halftime interview or in-depth analysis after the goal is kicked.

I feel for the players who are coming off wanting a spell, and then they get ushered in front of the camera and are asked questions by Kelli Underwood. That should be the last thing on the player’s mind when a game of footy is to be won.

Here’s a short and simple message for Fox Footy. We sure as shit don’t see this in the men’s game, so don’t bother doing it here either.


The injury to Indy Tahau

There have been a couple of knee injuries on Saturday; the injury to Teagan Germech from GWS looked terrible, and considering it was only her fourth career game, that will put the brakes on her development. The last thing the Giants need is another injury to a budding player.

The knee injury to Indy Tahau will unquestionably hurt the Power. Although Ash Saint and Gemma Houghton kicked five goals between them, they won’t be as consistent on the scoreboard throughout the rest of the season.

Tahau’s influence in the air puts a fair amount of opposition pressure off both of them and considering she’s still just 20 years of age, she’s got the football world at her feet; such is her potential. The ability to play influential key position roles at either end of the ground is even more impressive. We’ve even seen her play as the secondary ruck at times this year and at least offer a contest and an extra body around stoppages.

Port will be robbed of a player of that ability for the next 12 months; I’d love to know the plan for Lauren Arnell next week. Julia Teakle would’ve had to have been the next cab off the rank, but she’s still another three or four weeks away with a foot injury.

It could be Levicki who offers the Power a secondary ruck and a spare hand to Matilda Scholz, who continues to impress every week. But what’s the forward craft like? And will it upset the apple cart that is the partnership of Saint and Houghton?


The great Collingwood choke

The pressure from Nick Dal Santo is eased for the week and should be directed the way of Steve Symonds and the Collingwood Football Club.

Conceding five goals unanswered in the last quarter is inexcusable, regardless of the opposition. A win sets them up nicely at 2-2 after a rough loss at home to the Suns last week. Now, at 1-3, we’re asking where precisely the Pies are.

A lot of them went missing in the last quarter. Bri Davey had just the two disposals, while Jordyn Allen, Mikala Cann and Tarni White – all influential in the opening three quarters registered just one disposal. Aishling Sheridan didn’t touch the ball in the last quarter after being a prominent disposal winner in the opening rounds.

The Pies were bullied around the contest last quarter and had no answers. I had some queries a couple of weeks ago when Fremantle peppered the inside 50s in the last quarter and gave them the benefit of the doubt, but this is now four weeks running when Collingwood hasn’t kicked a goal in the last quarters.

Granted, without Eliza James, who’d be the focal point up forward and no star power in Chloe Molloy, the Pies are heading up a certain creek without any paddles.


What is going on with Amy Franklin?

We saw these issues when she was at Fremantle last year; now, the problem is that her lack of involvement in the game has carried over to the Eagles.

When the Eagles have 31 inside 50 entries for the game, you’ve got to add more than just one disposal. Even when thrust in as the secondary ruck, she looked incredibly lost. She spent 60 per cent of the game on the ground for one disposal, which only comes and goes for a few seconds – what is she doing for the other 59 per cent?

It’s a bit concerning when it’s one of the top draftees from a few years ago – she’s been in the league now for three seasons, so something has got to be up – you can’t go the one disposal in that amount of time.

Considering Aimee Schmidt got four touches in similar minutes, Kellie Gibson actually had an impact offensively and defensively up forward, and Ella Roberts is splitting her time between forward and midfield and is still getting hands to the ball more; this is just an unacceptable performance and a decision for Michael Prior to make.

Not even a tackle in this game – you have to do something in the forward line. Dakota Davidson does it both in the air and at ground level for the Lions as the prime key target – Franklin has got to start somewhere here.

Five Eagles players got multiple tackles inside 50 – Roberts, Gibson, Mikayla Western, Dana Hooker and Courtney Rowley. It was a more spirited effort this week from the Eagles, but in the case of Amy Franklin, I think it’s time to make her earn her spot.


Game over Bulldogs

This was a heartbreaking performance by the Dogs. Last week, they turned the corner with a reasonable effort against Melbourne. There’s no denying the improvement on the Gold Coast Suns this year. But the reality is that the Dogs were up to their eyeballs in this game, blew it with ill-decision-making and poor skills and sit near the bottom with four losses in as many starts.

Why is Elisabeth Georgostathis playing down back? I counted on both hands the number of times she tried to pinpoint an option, only for it to fall a metre or two short of her teammate. Katie Lynch consistently gave it off to players under pressure – beggars belief how she made All-Australian last year. How does Jess Fitzgerald fluff a shot on goal from the goal square and not score anything?

Fumbles and miskicks kill you in football, and it’s magnified a fair bit in AFLW because the scoring can be more complicated at times. Simply put – the Bulldogs are a bog-average footy team.

There’s no doubt the Dogs’ heart and effort are there, and they’re working hard, but they’re not working smart; you don’t get premiership points for falling short by a couple of points.

Next week against the Saints is massive for pride more than anything else. They need to get something out of the season, but it just so happens the Saints have found some winning form.

I’ve heard a lot about the number of players this club has lost through expansion over the past few seasons. I shouldn’t be so shocked at how poor the form guide is from the Dogs when you consider the players lost to expansion clubs: Mon Conti, Bonnie Toogood, Katie Brennan, Brooke Lochland, Aisling McCarthy, and Ellyse Gamble and very little is coming through to replace that at the moment.


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