As this is a review of the entire weekend, I thought I’d start with a bit of an editorial.
The Marsh series began this week for the AFL, after just two weeks of clean air for the women to work into their 2020 season.
The boys rolled out to play this weekend, with five games from Thursday to Sunday, several of which directly clashed with the women’s fixture.
The women’s league has had just two rounds of footy to build interest without the shadow of the men’s competition looming over them like a storm cloud ready to rain on their parade.
And this weekend it poured.
No wonder fans of AFLW are pissed off.
Look, I know at times it seems as though there are some very vocal supporters of the women’s league that want more, more… MORE, but what we have happening this weekend is not a case of wanting more – it’s more just wanting a god damn chance to succeed at all.
I must stress here, for the benefit of transparency, that given the choice between the two games on Friday night, I chose to watch the men’s competition. Simply put, I like it better. If I am put in a position where I have to choose, I’ll choose the men’s game over the AFLW game, and a quick straw poll of people found that four of the five people I asked felt the same. The fifth stated that they felt as though they wanted to support AFLW due to the AFL “dicking them around”.
It’s a fair point. I ended up watching the AFLW game after I finished the marsh Series review.
Whilst there has been plenty of pats on the back for AFLW this season, the fixturing of their competition is an absolute kick in the pants. Wanna know why the networks won’t bite on any more games? Have a look at what they’re up against. Why would Foxtel want to be competing against itself for the same audience? It makes no sense at all.
For all the talk of professionalism, improvement and pathways into the system, the one area the AFL have really fallen down, and basically refused to get up at all, is with the fixturing of AFLW, or their pre-season competition.
Now, on with the review
ST KILDA 3.1.19 DEFEATS MELBOURNE 1.8.14 – HB MEYERS
It was low scoring and scrappy but none of that matters to the St Kilda Football Club, as the only thing that mattered was their first ever AFLW victory, and it came on Friday night, as the Saints managed to withstand a Melbourne team that had dominant patches, but couldn’t convert.
Here are some of the players and moments that stood out.
To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever taken a hell of a lot of notice of Alison Drennan, but I did in this one. Her timely interjections, her ability to get to the right spot to disrupt the opposition’s attack, and her attack on the footy were first class in this one.
Whilst you will probably hear a bit about Caitlin Greiser’s long bomb as one of the pivotal moments of the game, many of the little things Drennan did will go unnoticed. Not here, however – she was excellent all game.
One of the few players in the league who genuinely knows how to use her body in contests and create space for herself to operate. Watch her when she runs and kicks – everything looks natural for her. She is not an athlete who decided to have a crack at footy. She is something very different.
She is a genuine footballer.
Paxman finished with 26 touches and was the one player who looked as though she could drag the Dees over the line. Okay, there were two – Daisy Pearce stepped up in the last quarter as well, but it was to no avail.
This was a three-vote game as far as I am concerned. Whether in the ruck, or drifting down to provide a stabilising presence on the last line of defence, Watt was a difference maker for the whole game.
She led from the front, put herself in harm’s way and didn’t hesitate to inject herself into the middle of the action. She ran hard, linked up with handball and won clearances. It was a leader’s game, and when this club writes the story of St Kilda’s first ever win in AFLW, the name of Rhi Watt will get more than its share of ink.
THE SEDUNARY SHEPHERD
This is something that wasn’t picked up, but just prior to the Darcy Guttridge goal in the second quarter, there was a high quality shepherd that allowed the Saints the avenue to score.
Georgie Patrikios did some really hard work to get a handball out of a tackle and get things going the Saints’ way but as Jess Sedunary approached the next contest, she opted to lay a shepherd for her teammate, Alison Drennan to run onto the ball.
It wasn’t a brutal hip and shoulder or anything; just a nice piece of body work to allow her teammate the passage to run onto the footy. Drennan did, kicked long where Greiser collected and kicked long to a vacant goal mouth.
It was there that Guttridge gathered and goaled, but you simply cannot discount how effective that small piece of play from Sedunary was. Little things like that create opportunity, and in a game where the Saints didn’t get many, that one was so important.
KATE MCCARTHY’S RUN
I liked the little battle between McCarthy and Daisy Pearce that seemed to come to fruition in the third quarter. McCarthy looked determined to tackle Daisy whenever the opportunity arose at that point – I liked her accepting the challenge.
But McCarthy’s run, and willingness to take the game on caused some real headaches for the Dees. Her run away from Pearce in the second quarter, and having three bounces as she did, was great to see. She wasn’t afraid to sell candy, and even when she was knocked down, she would bounce to her feet and try it all over again. She has the sense of genuine goal-sneak about her, and in a higher-scoring encounter, her attributes would be absolutely scary.
This has got to be a worry for the Dees. She can barely get near the footy at the moment, and looks devoid of confidence. Tamara Luke offered her a shot at redemption – kicking on the full and then giving up a mark 35 metres out to Cunningham, but the Dees forward couldn’t convert.
That’s been the story of her 2020 to date. Zero conversion, and as a key forward, a goose egg in the goals column can only be ignored so many times.
Maybe a run in the ruck to get her hands on the footy is in order?
She would be All-Australian if the season ended right now. She’s been excellent, and looked like the most dangerous Dees forward in this one again. Her and Shelley Scott both look very natural and balanced with the footy, but Hore just couldn’t hit the scoreboard in this one.
Close several times, but as Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura used to say “close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.”
I get the hand grenades part, but who plays horseshoes?
Of the kids, I still really like Nicola Xenos. She is still being tried all over the place, and once she gets a continuous run in a position, I reckon you’ll see something great from her. Georgia Patrikios got plenty of attention whenever she got the ball, and I’d love to see Molly McDonald demand the footy and trust herself a little more. She runs like the wind.
Sinead Goldrick went off because Jess Sedunary gave her a whack in the face after the ball went out of bounds in the second quarter. Go back and watch – right in the chops!
As good as Shelley Scott’s goal was in the first quarter with the wind at her back, the goal from Caitlin Greiser was an absolute belter. Ripping kick.
Others I thought deserve a mention – Ali Brown was solid, as was Hannah Priest. Rosie Dillon got plenty of it, as well.
For the Dees, Elise O’Dea gets a heap of footy, but does turn into trouble a lot, Maddison Gay can look like a million bucks in one instance and ten cents in the next. Her spin out of trouble to start the second quarter was wonderful and then she just, inexplicably dropped the footy. Both Tyler Hanks and Eden Zanker show plenty in spurts as well. Libby Birch had a nice game, but had the advantage of playing the sweeper for long periods.
All the best to Madeline Guerin – that knee injury looked pretty innocuous… but they’re the ones that are often worst.
Finally, that may have been the best rendition of “When the Saints go marching in” outside of New Orleans. Congrats, Saints girls.
CARLTON 8.3.51 DEFEATED WESTERN BULLDOGS 4.6.30 – ALEX DOCHERTY
It was a game dubbed as a redemption match for both Carlton and the Western Bulldogs on Saturday. Whilst both teams did plenty to suggest that they had bounced back from disasters in round two, there still had to be a winner and a loser.
For Carlton, they were the better team for longer and that was the catalyst to their second-straight pride game victory on Saturday, withstanding an early onslaught in the last quarter from the Dogs to record a 21-point victory in front of a Whitten Oval crowd that was in excess of 8200 spectators.
The Blues led from the outset, kicking with a breeze that favoured the Gordon Street end and in the opening 10 minutes, they pressured the Bulldogs into submission and kicked three goals in the span of nearly four minutes. The Dogs wrangled back control of contest from then until half time. For all of their hard work, they could only put 1.3 on the board – which as hindsight now shows – separated the Dogs from the Blues by full-time. There were a couple of shots that they needed to convert and unfortunately it didn’t go to plan. This meant it was advantage Carlton heading into the second half.
I think Nathan Burke and the Bulldogs knew this, the ball must’ve been situated inside the entire forward half for the Blues for the entirety of the third quarter. However, this is where I was encouraged by the Bulldogs. They conceded 14 inside 50 entries in the third term without having one themselves, but only allowed two goals for the entire quarter. If it were the same conditions last week against Melbourne, they would’ve let in maybe four, five or six. This meant that they needed some inspiring efforts in the last quarter to try and will the team over the line.
Kirsten McLeod had a moment of brilliance where she outran Vaomua Laloifi for the ball on the wing, managed to skip past Kerryn Harrington inside 50 and then was so close to threading through an unbelievable goal from the boundary. She got her reward moments later when she was on the end of a brilliant snap on the opposite pocket. If you watched the game, you just knew the Bulldogs were going for broke and they kept on pushing the Blues.
Unfortunately they looked out of gas as Nicola Stevens was on the end of a pass in the forward pocket and threaded through a neat set-shot, followed by Georgia Gee kicking her third goal of the match to put it to bed. I thought Izzy Huntington was outstanding as the general in defence. She read the play beautifully all throughout the match and was able to pluck some very good grabs. Without her, I think the Blues would’ve won by a lot more and this performance outlines how important she is going forward. That’s not discounting the efforts of Ellie Blackburn and Aisling McCarthy in the middle. I thought both were simply brilliant and provided such a tough physical battle against quality opposition. I also thought Gabby Newton – floating between half-forward and in the middle – was very good and is piecing together a very nice debut season and Brooke Lochland, making her return from a hamstring injury, proved that she will be an important piece going forward. She was playing a bit further up the ground as opposed to the position that saw her torture Carlton supporters everywhere a couple of years ago. I liked what I saw – everyone knows how quick she can be, but her work-rate and use of the ball by foot perhaps go a fraction unnoticed.
For the first two weeks, teams have been trying to figure out how to negate the influence of Maddy Prespakis. Last week she didn’t make much impact against the Pies, but this week she turned the final quarter into the Maddy Prespakis Show. She won important contested ball, and did everything she could in the defensive half to make sure the Doggies didn’t get a chance to score. Lucy McEvoy mounted a strong case for the Rising Star award with a big game playing both up forward and in the middle. Tayla Harris and Nicola Stevens were imposing, just a week after both struggled to make any impact whatsoever. Harris was just as effective in the air as she was at ground level this week, whilst Stevens provided good leads and showed that she was a good option up forward. Vaomua Laloifi and Gab Pound provided such composed heads in defence.
BRISBANE 4.4.28 DREW WITH GOLD COAST 4.4.28 – DANIEL JON KERSHAW
In a highly anticipated Q clash, the Lions faced state rivals Gold Coast, made up of … a lot of Lions players they stole picked up during the offseason.
Lions jumped out of the gates fast, absolutely destroying the Suns in possessions and inside 50s. By the start of the 2nd quarter, the first AFLW Q Clash was looking grim, with the Lions kicking 3.1 to Gold Coast’s 0.0, aided by Rheanne Lugg, who kicked two goals, before going very quiet for the rest of the game.
The Suns were on the ropes and another goal was going see them knocked to the canvas. But when all seemed lost, up stepped priority-pick Kalinda Howarth who single-handedly turned the game around in the space of 5 minutes. After a great mark and set-shot, followed by a beautifully accurate tumble-through goal that lifted her team, the Lions must have rued letting the Suns back in the game. Especially since two quarters later, she calmly slotted through the equalising goal from the pocket that caused the game to be a draw – the fourth in AFLW history.
Not only did Howarth put most of the points up on the board for the Suns, she also worked herself around the ground to be a target and help move the ball forward with her elite kicking skills. She performed a delicious shake n bake that would have given Dwayne Russell an aneurysm if he was commentating.
If I were you, I’d commit the name Howarth to memory – she’s going to be one of the superstars of the competition in years to come.
The other Sun that stood out in this game was defender Jordann Hickey, who mitigated the damage done by the Lions when the ball lived in their forward half for the first 20 minutes with great intercept and contested grabs.
While there were some stand out performances from the Lions, including Breanna Koenen and Gabby Collingwood, who both saw a lot of the ball – there was a lack of leadership late in the game when the Suns were on a surge. In a game that ended up being a draw, it might have been a very different result if one of the Lions’ senior players stepped up and tried to change the momentum of the game with a few great passages – but the team looked gassed and it seemed like they were just trying to run out the clock.
Considering how hard the Suns pushed late in the game, two points for the draw was probably the best result the Lions could have hoped for – it could well have easily been the Suns that grappled the pineapple and taken the W.
ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS – HB MEYERS
Ah, I love this about footy – a local derby with some genuine feeling in it. I liked what I saw, and would watch it again, definitely.
Brisbane would be kicking themselves about this game – they got the jump and looked the better side in the first half, but their dominance wasn’t really reflected in the score line. It would come back to haunt them.
In a frantic last quarter, the Lions lost one of their prime movers, when Sophie Conway copped a knock to the head in a tackle. Her absence seemed to both stall the Lions and give the Suns a boost in terms of momentum.
As if they needed it.
Gold Coast spent the majority of the last quarter in their forward half, with Kate Surman, Britt Perry and Jamie Stanton bottling the ball in there as the frantic Lions, tried to release.
It was a ripping last quarter as the Suns threw everything at the Lions and it was almost enough. Here are the standouts.
If she wasn’t a lock for All-Australian, she would be now. Playing the Jeremy McGovern role, Lutkins was a thorn in the side of the Suns as they tried to exit their defence, particularly in the first half. She had eight intercept marks and 21 possessions en route to being named the best player in the clash.
Lutkins has an innate ability to position herself in exactly the right spot to impact the contest best, and I would not be at all surprised if teams start allocating her a defensive forward more often as the Suns did in this game. Britt Perry tried to curtail the dominant Lutkins in the last quarter and actually managed to take a nice contested grab against her.
Other teams would be well-served in not permitting Lutkins to play a kick behind the play all by herself.
A good pair of hands, leads hard at the ball carrier and converts when the opportunity presents. Ladies and gentlemen, at 21, Howarth took the game by the scruff of the neck and kicked 75% of her team’s goals in this game. That’s quite ridiculous, isn’t it?
Howarth moves beautifully, and when she finds space, the Suns look for her often. Her last goal to level the scores was the sort that tests most players, on an acute angle with pressure building. She went back, slotted it and was greeted with a huge hug on the bench by Lauren Bella.
I would’ve hugged her too after that effort.
I mentioned her above, but that doesn’t do her justice. If Kate Lutkins was the meat and potatoes of the Lions, then Conway is the chocolate sundae for dessert. She is the class little unit that makes things happen, and when she went down, the Lions fell in a bit of a heap, unable to pass the centre for long stretches.
She was very unlucky to be called for a push in a marking contest in the third quarter – I thought it was just really good body work – as she could have distanced her Lions from the Suns a little more, and it may have been enough.
She has really clean hands, and isn’t afraid to run to space and trust her teammates to get her the ball.
How often do you think she has to apologise for her name?
Anyway, early in the game, she was instrumental in the Lions building their lead. She was running to the right spots and marking well, but once the Lions started to struggle to get the ball into her area, she drifted out.
Collingwood is 21 years old and has already demonstrated the ability to take the ball cleanly and use it well.
Without her, the Suns could have been four or five goals down at quarter time. She was an absolute rock in defence in the first half, repelling multiple attacks and using her run to open up the game.
As the ball spent the second half predominantly in the Lions defence, her influence waned.
She was everywhere in the first half, and was a big reason for the Brisbane ascendancy early. Her penchant for taking off after gaining possession caught a few Suns sleeping at times, and though she was another who drifted out of the game, her first half was excellent.
Jess Wardlaw has been one of the better deep forwards this season, but aside from one errant kick landing in her arms (and a great banana goal as a result), Pregelj had her number all afternoon.
Interesting to hear the commentators give some background on Pregelj – I would have loved to see her play in her prime.
There are a couple of others I thought were good on the day as well – Emily Bates, Lauren Arnell and Belle Dawes were good for the Lions, whilst Jordann Hickey, Lauren Ahrens and Hannah Dunn were good for the Suns.
FREMANTLE 5.3.33 DEFEATED COLLINGWOOD 4.6.30 – MATT PASSMORE
The top of the table (group B) clash between Collingwood and Fremantle was seen to be a grand final preview. Both sides clearly the best of the two conferences got the chance to test their skills against each other for the first time this year, down at the historic Fremantle oval.
I went along to this game, taking my kids, and the atmosphere of the AFLW is always a fantastic place to be part of. The smaller crowd at the community ground gives the game a country league kind of feel. Everyone is there not only to support their team but also support the competition as well. For those who haven’t been able to track along yet, It’s a great experience and a good day out for the kids.
Collingwood were the better side on the day, but they weren’t able to capitalise midfield dominance on the scoreboard. In the first quarter, they Pies were quick to control possession of the ball but were often too slow to dispose or over disposed of the ball going forward. Fremantle hurt them on the scoreboard the other way, scoring 3 first quarter goals to Flood, O’Sullivan, and Sharp from four inside 50s.
After quarter time, though, Collingwood got organised and kept the Dockers scoreless and compiled two of their own goals and 4 behinds to take a narrow half time lead, much narrower than the 23-6 inside 50 stat suggested.
They went toe for toe in the third, but it was the fourth quarter that impressed me the most. A Collingwood goal at three quarter time set the scene for what would be a close finish. Collingwood with the momentum and upper hand really only needed a single goal in the last quarter to take the lead and likely the win. However, it was the finals-like pressure from the Fremantle defenders who kept away attack after attack. That finals like defence was met with equal defence from the Pies, preventing the Dockers from kicking a match winning goal the other way. Every ground ball was met with several players and each player who has possession was met with 2 or 3 tacklers, without room for an easy disposal. Collingwood set up well behind the ball and were able to cause inside 50 but couldn’t find a mark within range. For a quarter that two solitary behinds, it had every one of the five and half thousand witnesses on the edge of their seats.
In the end, Fremantle’s first quarter was enough to give them the edge, which they could held onto in a high-pressure style of game reminiscent of Ross Lyon’s 2013-2015 men’s side.
The highlights from Freo:
Roxy Roux continued her impressive first season in the AFLW. This girl is going to be an absolute star. Probably doesn’t get the ball as much as she should, but she has great game sense and when she goes near it something bounds to happen. She set up Gabby O’Sullivan’s first quarter goal and then managed the final goal for Freo to put them 7 points up in the third.
Gemma Houghton was goalless today but her presence as a forward continues to impress. If she could learn to consistently take a mark (a lack of ability I find ironic, given her basketball background), she’d be up there with the best in the comp. Very good second efforts at ground level and she acts as a beacon for the smaller Freo forwards to work off.
Philipa Seth probably played her best game for the Dockers. Fremantle’s back 5 are working well together and Seth was the mainstay there. She picked up 12 touches but her ten kicks were important in transitioning the ball quickly from back to forward.
Kiara Bowers is elite in every sense of the word. Another 14 tackles to go with her 18 last week, she now has 46 tackles across the three games she’s played. But beyond her pressure acts, she was smart with her ball movement, particularly in the first quarter.
Highlights from Collingwood:
I loved Britt Bonnici’s game. 20 touches, she just kept finding the footy. Her last quarter was monumental. She kept finding her way into dangerous spots and intercepting rebound 50 after rebound 50. Almost in the hunt with a deserved match winning goal at the end, she wasn’t able to quite get it on the boot.
Jaimee Lambert controlled the midfield for the Pies, and really for the game. She racked up 32 touches and 4 clearances and put her hand up for best afield. In a tight match, she was able to find space everywhere and generally used the ball well.
Brianna Davey was Lambert’s counterpart in the midfield, picking up 18 touches of her own.
Where to from here:
Fremantle will consider themselves lucky to get away with this one. They’ll walk away happy with their defence, and very happy with their forwards who kicked a winning total from minimal entries. However, questions do need to be raised about their centre clearances and their kicking out of the backline. Too many times did the Dockers kick and hope, which was easily cut off by the Collingwood mids.
Collingwood will be wondering how they lost that one. For a team who controlled the vast majority of the game, they’ll be asking questions about the functionality of their forward line. They managed 6 makes inside 50 but weren’t able to kick a winning score. An inconvenient breeze blowing across the ground probably didn’t help their accuracy- and their shots were generally more difficult than Fremantle’s- but they really have no one else to blame for this loss except themselves. I was impressed at how quickly they adapted their game style from over possessing in the first quarter to longer kicking after that, but they didn’t cope well under pressure and couldn’t find a last quarter goal when there was ample opportunity.
Overall though, an absolutely terrific match and if this was the grand final preview, then I look forward to the main event.
GWS 6.6.42 DEFEATED WEST COAST 2.2.14 – MATT PASSMORE
The Giants, sitting just outside the top 3 of their group were looking for a big win over the young Eagles side to make or break their season. A young Eagles side had begun their AFLW story with a baptism by fire against top sides Collingwood and Fremantle. The girls from the west finally had the chance where they could meet a lower side and could show just how competitive they could be, maybe even in the chance for a maiden win.
Blacktown Park is where we set our scene, and what a scene it was.
GWS came out and absolutely fired on all cylinders. They were bigger, stronger, faster and much more composed with the ball. Alicia Eva and Annalyse Lister led the Giants’ physical campaign picking up seven and six tackles respectively for the game and providing a physical presence that the Eagles couldn’t match.
West Coast had the clearances (25-17) but every time they got the ball, they weren’t given the space to use it with any authority, often over possessing or simply kicking and hoping up the line, which the Giants found far too easy to chop off. Conversely, the Giants were slick, took the game on, went long through the middle and pushed forward. At three quarter time the Giants had put on 5.4 and conversations were beginning about the Eagles having a completely scoreless game. A behind early in the last was met with a polite applause from the mostly New South Welsh crowd. The behind was followed quickly by a good snap goal to Mikayla Bowen, which brought some small level of respectability to the score.
I really enjoyed the Giants all round game. Their physicality was a highlight, with solid bumps and tackles rattling the Eagles early. Their ball movement was equally as effective. The Giants took the game on as much as they possibly could and weren’t afraid to take risks in the process. Long kicks through the middle of the ground and then long kicks into an open forward 50 provided an absolute paddock in which the Giants forwards could work. Rebecca Privitelli was a highlight with her marking up forward, kicking three goals and providing a solid target. Cora Staunton was good as well, kicking 1.2 and provided a secondary option. Rebecca Beeson was dominant through the middle of the ground, picking up 18 touches, and fed them out effectively to outside runners Nicola Barr (12) and Eva (14).
I think the story here is less about the Giants and more about the Eagles. In the off-season they recruited superstars Dana Hooker (Fremantle) and Emma Swanson (GWS), as well as a host of other players who have been around the AFLW for a while. For a new team, they shouldn’t be considered “that” new. Still, it’s obvious they put all of their experience through the middle of the ground and have none up forward or down back which is a blight on their list building. Dana Hooker has been disappointing for them this year. She gets plenty of the ball, but too often is she sitting back from the contest, standing still and waiting to take possession. By the time she collects the ball, she’s given up any time she had and then has to dispose of the ball under pressure. If she’s going to be a key ball winner, she needs to be moving through the contest to free herself up and then use the ball better. Even when she had space, too many of her kicks were cut off by the opposition. I enjoy Imahra Cameron’s game (17d, 1.1), as she often finds herself in dangerous spots up forward, but she lacks talent around her to achieve much with it. Grace Kelly was not sighted at all today up forward, and the Eagles really do need to find another or a better target when they go inside 50. There’s no point winning every clearance when you have no one to kick the ball to.
The Giants walk away from this game full of confidence and (as I write this) in second place on their conference. They seem to have all their eggs in a row and are a well-placed metaphor. The Eagles, however, have a lot of question to ask, and if they write this season off under the guise of inexperience, then they’re going to be using that excuse for a few more years. They need genuine talent and they need it fast, because this performance was much more a lack of talent than it was a lack of experience.
NORTH MELBOURNE 12.4.76 DEFEATED RICHMOND 2.8.20 – JOSEPH ARTHUR
This game taught us two things; the Kangaroos are a genuine threat to win the flag and the Tigers don’t have the depth to consistently compete at AFLW level.
The tale of this whopping 56-point thrashing can be told by highlighting a few telling moments from early in the first term.
For the second week in a row, North Melbourne star Jas Garner drew first blood for her club, taking full advantage of an early opportunity in front of goal. Conversely, down the other end, Richmond’s Katie Brennan failed to take advantage of a golden opportunity to square the score only minutes later.
Early on the Tigers showed plenty of promise, looking threatening on a number of occasions but squandered every opportunity they worked so hard to earn. There’s no doubt this side has some very talented players – unfortunately that talent runs thin.
The Kangaroos held firm and were able to turn the momentum thanks to some poor discipline from the Tigers and quality play from their tandem of Kate Gillespie-Jones and Jas Garner. Unlike their opponents, the Roos were able to make it count on the scoreboard and things got away from an inexperienced Tigers outfit as the Kangaroos kicked five unanswered goals in the second term.
Simply put, North took advantage of its early opportunities and Richmond didn’t.
As the siren went to signal the end of the first half the game was essentially over, the Kangaroos holding a commanding 40-point lead.
What makes North Melbourne such a threat for the rest of the league is its ability to apply scoreboard pressure. No team in the AFLW has been as accurate in-front of goal as the Roos, who are 21.7 on the season; the firepower in their arsenal has been finishing at an elite level.
Kaitlyn Ashmore was stellar across half forward with three goals, including a wild snap from a tight angle that was blessed with an incredibly fortuitous bounce. Ashmore’s tally climbs to four goals on the season.
Ash Riddell was a ball magnet for the blue and white, collecting 21 disposals including 11 in the first term with the game up for grabs.
For the Tigers, Brennan toiled away admirably but went missing in key moments early. As the team’s marquee star, she has a lot on her shoulders and when her presence was lacking, Richmond looked completely outmatched by the depth of North.
The Kangaroos took their foot off the gas early in the second half but the Tigers deserve credit for continuing to fight and forcing North Melbourne to play out all four quarters in a competitive capacity.
It will be a season of growing pains and learning on the fly for the Tigers, as is to be expected for any expansion team.
However, North Melbourne should be very excited with its start to the season and the more I see from this side, the more worried I get for the rest of Conference A.
ADELAIDE 8.1.49 DEFEATED GEELONG 6.2.38 – NICHOLAS SLUGGETT
The last game of round three was set up as an interesting prospect. The Cats were still searching for their first win of their AFLW season. Meanwhile the Crows were looking to secure a crucial away on their journey for a premiership defence. Both sides had not been in the greatest of form coming into the game but had both shown they can produce high quality footy.
Alas, it was the Adelaide Crows who came away with the points at the end of an absolutely enthralling contest that featured some blistering ball movement, bone crunching tackles and some high-quality skills. It’s a shame that now that Geelong has slipped to 0-3 and now resides at second-last in conference A, with a very poor percentage pretty much closes the door on their season.
Here are the things I picked up from this game:
A Quality Crumb
Danielle Higgins crumb for the games first goal was pure quality. Parking herself in front of the big key forward. Higgins took the ball off-hands before it hit the ground and snapped truly off a single step that would’ve made Stephen Milne smile, with its tip-rat like similarity.
A Hot Start
The first 10 minutes of this game was just damn good footy. Two goals from each side with some good centre clearance work and some good defensive rebounds. A clear testament to the growing level of elite skills in the game.
It should be no surprise that Danielle Ponter features in my best players. Just the craft she displayed in the first quarter to take a couple clear marks, and kick truly for goal. It’s what I love about footy. A strong medium-sized who can kick goals from nothing, like the one against one of the leagues best defenders in Meg McDonald. That particular goal was telling as Geelong had had their chances down the other end and were riding a bit of momentum in the quarter. The fact she kicked the sealing goal in the last minute (her 4th) solidified her impact on the contest.
Now, I’ll preface this that I’m a sucker for a key forward. Most of my favourite players are key forwards. So, it should be no surprise that Phoebe McWilliams features in the players that I enjoy watching. The way she flies for the footy is just so pure. She cost herself a few times when she let some marks slip through her fingers, that she should’ve taken. She does provide a good presence and focal point for the Cats going forward, and looks to have a good understanding with Danielle Higgins.
Marinoff and Hatchard
To put a new twist on a classic Aussie saying, “Ashes to ashes, Dust to Dust. If Marinoff doesn’t get you then Hatchard must”. The Crows dynamic duo did as they pleased in the middle of the ground as they continually pushed their side ahead of a resilient Cats outfit. The commentators were talking down Hatchards game midway through the 3rd quarter. Admittedly she had been restricted early, but her contested work and her hand in close are just so elite. A look back on this game will clearly show her ability to release her teammates into space, most of the time while being tackled. The pair finished with a combined 48 disposals and 19 tackles as the two dominant midfielders in the game.
A stone wall in defence. It was Meg McDonald down one end and Sarah Allen down the other. Allen stood tall for the majority of the afternoon. You only have to look at the Cats last genuine thrust forward when she left her opponent to intercept a Higgins handball and send the ball outside of defensive 50.
Cranston or Rooke?
Geeze. She can do it all. This was typified in the last quarter. First she laid a beautiful hit onto a Crow opponent at half back. Then a couple of minutes later she was snapping truly to put the Cats within a goal. I’m sure it will resonate with Cats supporters, but Richelle Cranston reminds me of Max Rooke with her very appealing balance of uncompromising physical toughness, balanced out with a neat bag of tricks and some underrated skills.
If You Don’t Mind, Umpire!!
I know I may be bias as a Cats supporter. But that last call for a deliberate rushed behind was atrocious. As Maddy McMahon sprinted after a rolling footy towards the goal line in the dying seconds, she took possession of the footy and with her next step took the ball across the line for a behind. To expect her to have taken the time to survey the area around her at that stage of the game, after the effort she had put in to make the ground, is just crazy. If the ball had not bounced on its end and risen high, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. The idea that she was under no pressure is ludicrous. You can’t expect an AFL player to assume that their opponent has given up, which is what Danielle Ponter cleverly did, sensing the moment. The Cats probably wouldn’t have scored anyway, but its sad that umpiring has decided their fate. Hopefully the umpire can acquire a bit of game sense over the next week.
The Crows simply had too many quality players. My three best players were Marinoff, Ponter and Hatchard. Honourable mentions went to Purcell, A. Foley, J. Foley, M. McDonald, S. Allen, D. Higgins and Cranston. It’s a long week for the Cats who will play in the Tigers in the “Winless Blockbuster” for the bottom of conference A. Meanwhile the Crows head home for Grand Final rematch with the Blues, as both teams look to secure their spot in the top three of their conference.
And that’ll do – a beefy wrap up of the weekend in AFLW. Hope you enjoyed, and for those who read the whole thing through… don’t forget to consider becoming a Mongrel Member to support the site. We do this for the love of the game, and hope you guys can see the effort that goes in.