AFLW – What I Am Looking Forward To In Round Seven

Round Seven already! Where does the time go?

As always, The Doc is all over the AFLW action, and here are things he is looking forward to this week.



Seriously,… next game.

I want nothing to do with this game as a Bulldogs supporter. They’re entering into this game, and it’s probably going to be a lot of pain that they’ll get from a Crows outfit in incredible form, knocking off the defending premiers on their turf last week.

The Crows now sit a game clear on top of the AFLW ladder and are humming on all cylinders. They get a lot of generation inside 50, averaging 40.5 entries per game this year. Ebony Marinoff is the one that primarily gets it in there enough times, averaging well over seven per game. But plenty of others can get it forward and have a positive impact, too.

We know what Anne Hatchard is capable of and has been doing throughout the season. But there’s been significant improvement from players like Maddi Newman, Niamh Kelly and Danielle Ponter.

Ponter, in particular, has been seeing more midfield time this year than previous years, averaging 66 per cent of centre bounce attendances in 2023 – nearly 60 per cent more than her average last season.

And the thing is, her output has only gone up in every facet of her game – averaging nearly two goals per game and averaging career numbers in tackles, clearances and score involvements.



The Saints are in the box seat to win four games on the bounce, which looked incredibly unlikely at the start of the season.

They have enjoyed playing at home this year, with two wins and a narrow loss against Port Adelaide, which was one that they should’ve sewn up anyway. But the Saints have been a side that’s improved since the early stages of the year. A win here will have them knocking on the door of the top eight.

There have been signs all across the ground from Saints players who struggled at the start of the season. Georgia Patrikios has been one of them at the top of the list. After seeing no centre-bounce time at the beginning of the season, she’s slowly being integrated back into the main midfield unit after being a prominent figure in seasons gone by.

The Saints team also benefits from a healthy Olivia Vesely playing and impacting games like she did in her first season. Also, take into account the return of Tyanna Smith from a knee injury and the rise of Hannah Priest into the midfield, which becomes a unit that can bat extremely deep.

It was good to see the Giants get on the board in season 2023 with a great win against West Coast, and I hope that sort of form carries into this week. They’ll need more than Zarlie Goldsworthy to kick a winning score.



The Cats are in trouble after two losses in a row. Perhaps last week was more disappointing, considering how easily they disposed of Essendon the previous year. This time, teams are starting to figure the Cats out by taking away their contested ball.

They lost in the contested ball last week against Essendon in Warrnambool by 20. Georgie Prespakis, it felt like, was the lone hand in the midfield – players like Nina Morrison and Becky Webster were a bit below what they are capable of.

This week is an excellent opportunity for the Cats at home to return to the winners list against a Fremantle side who have been very hot and cold this season. They got comprehensively outplayed last week against North Melbourne, with many of their senior heads struggling to get their hands on the ball.
There has to be a response this week from the likes of Ebony Antonio, Gabby O’Sullivan and Hayley Miller. The side unquestionably walks taller when they are up and running.

The Dockers named Tahleah Mulder for her debut; Lisa Webb spoke about her a little bit in the press conference, saying she will be an inside midfielder. She had a strong season for South Fremantle in the WAFLW last year, which led to her being taken by the Dockers in this year’s supplementary draft with the third overall pick.

That said, I haven’t been convinced at all with Fremantle this year, but I half expect a significant response this week after they barely yelped home.



It’s an exciting game ahead for both sides for different reasons. Hawthorn will want to pull away from the bottom four, and they haven’t been disgraced in games, but they just haven’t found that ability to power away when they need to at times this year.

Meanwhile, Sydney has a lot more to play for, currently sitting at 3-3 and percentage outside the top eight.

Imagine what a win here for the Swans would do for them.

It’ll be tough and contested around the source. Hawthorn has some premium midfielders in Emily Bates and Tilly Lucas-Rodd, and both have been in superb form throughout the season. It’s a big week for both Laura Gardiner and Chloe Molloy. Could we see Tanya Kennedy run with one of those two Hawks stars? What can Jasmine Fleming do to help shift the momentum to the good of the Hawks?

Meanwhile, we get to see Ally Morphett square up against another young, coming ruck in Lucy Wales, in what should be both an exciting ruck duel but another feather in Morphett’s cap as she closes in on her first All-Australian blazer.

The Hawks will be without Cat Brown for the remainder of the season, as she suffered an ACL injury at training during the week, giving the Swans an excellent opportunity to exploit that, with Rebecca Privitelli in good form over the past couple of weeks, and Bella Smith, who continues to hit the scoreboard since her switch from defence.

The Swans will be primed for their fourth win of the season here.



This is going to be a must-watch game on Saturday night. 4th v 5th with the potential of a top-four spot in the finals up for grabs as we head towards the end of the home and away season.

Since the maiden Q-Clash, which saw both teams go with premiership points after a stalemate in 2020, Brisbane has dominated them in every manner possible. Given how disappointed the Lions would’ve been after their loss to Collingwood last week, this is perhaps the worst time to face them.

The Suns have been one of the league’s bigger improvers, with only percentage separating them from Brisbane. Last week against Richmond was a gutsy win away from home, and it took a mammoth kick from their captain to get them over the line.

There will have to be more than that this week for the Suns if they are to topple their rivals and salute in the Q-Clash for the first time in the AFLW. The Lions are a great running side, and they pride themselves on their tackling pressure, which generates scoring opportunities.

Scoring opportunities that the Lions cannot afford to bugger up this week. The Suns have midfield talent that has shown it can bat deep with the best of them. Charlie Rowbottom is already emerging as an elite talent. Lucy Single is a player who can play both offensive and defensive, and Claudia Whitfort has shown her damaging capabilities as an extractor this year, too.

Who gets the job on Dakota Davidson this week? It would have to be either Meara Girvan or Lauren Ahrens; if the Suns can nullify her influence and keep the contest nice and condensed, they’ll hold a perfect chance to upset the Lions for the second straight week.



This game looms as a potential shaper for the top eight, with Richmond and Essendon taking centre stage on Saturday night for Dreamtime at IKON Park.

The Tigers will have some reinforcements through Bec Miller, Sarah Hosking and Gabby Seymour. They had their moments last week to secure the win at home against the Gold Coast Suns, but poor kicking for goal and fragmented forward 50 entries stalled the Tigers again last week.

Caitlin Greiser needs a response for her poor form in front of goal in recent weeks, but the captain is equally crucial in standing up. It’s been an odd year for Katie Brennan – 7.5 for the season, averaging 12.3 disposals a game. You can argue that the average has been inflated by the back-to-back games against GWS and Carlton in rounds three and four, where she had 18 touches in both outings.

Since then, she had only eight touches against Fremantle and 11 touches against Gold Coast last week. The forward line group has struggled a lot this year. Courtney Jones had just six touches, Emelia Yassir just four and Stella Reid four touches (including a spectacular goal).
There also needs to be more of a goalscoring output from the midfielders. Mon Conti is a great accumulator of the ball but has gone nowhere near the scoring influence she had last year.

My colleague and good mate Alex Miller summed it up best for his Tigers on the A3 Footy podcast this week: If they lose, this is it for the Tigers.



Port Adelaide has axed Hannah Ewings this week for not meeting professional standards. I wrote back in the round two likes and dislikes column about what has happened to Ewings’s drop-off in form, and I’m a little surprised it’s taken Port this long to do something about it.

I don’t see Port getting close to North Melbourne in this game, especially after witnessing how they completely dismantled Fremantle in the west last week. Also, consider that their big defence recruit, Janelle Cuthbertson, will once again be forced to sit out the rest of the season due to injury, this time a thumb ruling her out.

The Roos are cruising along, and I could see this being a big afternoon for their key forwards. I’ve been impressed with Amelie Borg’s development throughout the season. Her 10 intercept possessions last week in their loss against the Swans was something I didn’t think she had in her this time last year, but she’s showing that next phase now where she’s more comfortable peeling off her opponent at the right time.

The Power will have very few answers to combat the likes of Ash Riddell, Jasmine Garner, Mia King and Jenna Bruton, and all of them have been in excellent form throughout the year. Port have Abbey Dowrick, who has been in sensational form, but apart from Erin Phillips, who has been hot and cold throughout the season, they have no one in the midfield who can stand up to the competition’s best.

North and North by a lot.



Four weeks ago, you would’ve looked at this match and thought nothing of it unless you support one of these clubs and hate the other, but now there are genuine finals ramifications on the line here for both sides.

All eyes are glued to Carlton this week. We’ve seen them play some excellent football and make teams below them suffer through their pressure and ability to capitalise on turnover. Still, Collingwood has been long renowned for being a team that doesn’t allow scores to flow so quickly, as exhibited in last week’s shock win over the Brisbane Lions.

The Blues could comfortably entrench themselves in the eight this week with a win over Collingwood, who remain outside the top eight, but they’ve won their past two games. Some may argue that Brisbane’s inaccuracy got them over the line, but the Pies still had match-winners when needed.

Bri Davey is the interesting one here; her last two weeks have seen her attend very few centre bounces. Against Brisbane, she attended zero per cent. She was being stationed more up forward as a target to kick to.

It robs Peter of paying Paul in a sense. Still, with Mikala Cann, Brittany Bonnici and Aishling Sheridan all holding it down in the midfield, it makes Davey a little more expendable and moves her to an area of the ground in which the Pies have sorely lacked in recent times.

The move forward should help the likes of Nell Morris-Dalton and Eliza James, who just returned from an ankle injury, to take some pressure off them both. If the Pies can get six or seven goals out of this game, they can get three in a row and halt the Blues’ momentum.


The last time these two teams met, Melbourne obliterated the Eagles and narrowly missed out on claiming the top spot on the ladder. This time around, Melbourne will be fired up and should take care of the Eagles quite handily.

They’ll be without three of their first-choice players in this one – Lauren Pearce, Tayla Harris, and Maddy Gay have all been ruled out, but that allows some of their other players to come in and continue on their development or stake a claim to be in the Melbourne best 21 heading into the finals.

Thinking like for like, I expect Maeve Chaplin, Georgia Campbell and one of either Rhi Watt or Jordan Ivey to come into the side this week.
Out of those who did play last week, the obvious one to look out for is Eden Zanker, who is fresh off a career-best five-goal haul, propelling her to the top of the leading goalkicking tally heading into round seven.

One could argue she is in career-best form – having kicked multiple goals in all but one game so far this season, but 12 goals in her past month is an absurd stat to hang your hat on. She also averaged 4.7 marks per game over the past month and just under four tackles. Her abilities at ground level and in the air are something to marvel over.

She’ll get Sophie McDonald as the match-up this week, who’s shown this year that she can be a formidable opponent, having lost just five contested one-on-ones out of 24 this year.