Presented by Ida Sports. Records tumbled as some sides confirmed their place in finals and Darcy Vescio became the first player to kick 50 goals.
Fremantle v Adelaide — Saturday @ Fremantle Oval
Fremantle 0.1.1 | 1.3.9 | 2.3.15 | 2.4.16
Adelaide 1.0.6 | 1.2.8 | 1.7.13 | 3.7.25
Fremantle: Hayley Miller, Airlie Runnalls
Adelaide: Danielle Ponter (2), Ashleigh Woodland
In the battle of the top two, the winner was not only going to enjoy victory over a premiership contender, but consolidate a spot on top of the ladder. Unfortunately for Fremantle, it was Adelaide that took hold of this game.
Both sides play strong defensively, but in differing ways. Fremantle withstands an inundation of inside 50s from its opponent and looks to generate attack from rebounds, while Adelaide’s defensive structure pushes high up the field and suffocates its opponent. Any attempt from oppositions to clear the ball from the danger zone is easily picked off by the likes of Sarah Allan, Marjiana Rajcic and Chelsea Biddell and sent straight back in. It was this well drilled defensive set up that allowed Adelaide to take hold of this game, particularly in the second half.
Off the back of that territory control, Adelaide won the inside 50 count 16-43, putting immense pressure on a Fremantle backline that is still without the important Janelle Cuthbertson. Young players Jessica Low and Sarah Verrier battled hard, and Laura Pugh registered 13 intercepts—just the second Fremantle player to record more than 12 intercepts in a game.
The Crows dominated the third quarter, but their inaccuracy left the door open for Fremantle. Up by eight points with 90 seconds remaining in the term, the Dockers put together the neatest passage of end-to-end football, resulting in the consummate captain’s goal from Hayley Miller to put the home side within two points at the break. When the Dockers’ backs are against the wall, it’s Miller who continues to step up.
Even while working through a foot concern, Anne Hatchard has kept the ball rolling on an outstanding season. Against Fremantle Hatchard registered ten inside 50s—the second most in AFLW history, only to teammate Erin Phillips’ 11 in the 2017 grand final—while also racking up 31 disposals, eight marks and 403 metres gained. Hatchard’s gradual move outside the contest, which began in earnest last year, has paid dividends for Adelaide this season.
Richmond v Geelong — Saturday @ Punt Road Oval
Richmond 0.2.2 | 1.2.8 | 1.3.9 | 1.4.10
Geelong 1.0.6 | 5.0.30 | 5.2.32 | 5.3.33
Richmond: Katie Brennan
Geelong: Phoebe McWilliams (2), Kate Darby, Madisen McGuire, Rebecca Webster
Richmond: Kodi Jacques (lower leg), Tayla Stahl (knee)
Geelong: Olivia Barber (head knock)
Geelong’s pressure—and particularly forward pressure—has been a signature of its game this year, but it hasn’t always resulted in scoreboard pressure. Against Richmond, however, the combination of inside pressure and outside ball use clicked for the Cats. This was evident in a season-high 35 marks which saw them far more composed with ball in hand than we’ve seen at times this season. This meant forward 50 entries were more considered and put to their teammates’ advantage more often than not.
Inside that forward line Phoebe McWilliams exerted her strength and intelligence, taking two big contested marks and kicking two goals. McWilliams has kicked a career high nine goals this season, and has goaled in all but two games as she has been able to spend more time at home inside 50 on the end of some better ball movement from her teammates.
In what was a tough day for Richmond where they suffered two more injuries, Megan Kiely’s performance stood out. In just her seventh AFLW game, she laid 14 tackles to attempt to stem the flow of Geelong’s ball movement. Averaging 9.7 disposal and 5.2 tackles, plus a handy couple of goals, Kiely is proving to be quite the pickup for Richmond.
Maddy McMahon has continued to lead the way in defence for Geelong this year, registering another 11 intercepts from 15 disposals against the Tigers. Their ability to rely on McMahon in defence cannot be overstated, as she not only reads the ball beautifully, but can assess the play and make split decisions which are more often than not, correct.
Melbourne v North Melbourne — Saturday @ Casey Fields
Melbourne 2.0.12 | 3.1.19 | 4.3.27 | 4.3.27
North Melbourne 0.2.2 | 1.4.10 | 1.4.10 | 2.5.17
Melbourne: Tayla Harris (2), Kate Hore, Karen Paxman
North Melbourne: Kaitlyn Ashmore, Jasmine Garner
Melbourne: Eden Zanker (ankle)
North Melbourne: Emma King (ankle)
Prior to this game Melbourne was leading the competition for contested ball, while North Melbourne was top of the table for uncontested ball. The Demons were focused on winning the hard stuff and generating attack from that, while the Kangaroos wanted to get it on the outside and use their runners in space. This game played out in the opposite manner, however. Melbourne won the uncontested possession count 115-97, taking away North’s key strategy to move the ball into attack and in doing so, got early control on the scoreboard.
In another win for the Demons—and lost asset for the Kangaroos—Emma Kearney was held to her lowest ever disposal count of just 11, and was able to use the ball at just 45.5% disposal efficiency, well below her 76% disposal efficiency across 2022. Shelley Heath has been thrown some tough tasks this year and she keeps knocking them back like they’re simple, and her defensive forward role on Kearney was no different. So often this year Kearney has been the driving force behind the Kangaroos, and sparked a resurgence when the side was doing it tough, but that wasn’t to be with Heath as her shadow on Saturday.
The Demons like to play with an anchor in defence, sitting behind the ball directing the rest of the backline and preventing any quick scores out the back. For much of the game North Melbourne seemed aware of this and wanted to even up numbers ahead of the ball, but come the second half Daisy Pearce dropped behind the ball to steady things for Melbourne and the Roos just let it happen. North Melbourne’s unwillingness to play one on one footy, particularly late in the game when Melbourne dropped all but a handful of players to the backline, meant any potential score would be incredibly hard to come by with no space and no time to fire off any clean shots on goal.
As is perpetually the case at Casey Fields, the wind played a big part in the game, and Melbourne’s ability to adapt to that earlier really set them in good stead. There was no moment where this was made clearer than as Tayla Harris expertly navigated the wind to slot her first goal during the second quarter, while Tahlia Randall’s set shot from a similar position in the third was pushed over the boundary line on the full. Harris has now kicked 15 goals for the season to sit equal-first on this year’s goalkicking tally.
St. Kilda v Gold Coast — Sunday @ Trevor Barker Beach Oval
St. Kilda 3.0.18 | 4.2.26 | 5.2.32 | 5.4.34
Gold Coast 0.1.1 | 1.2.8 | 2.4.16 | 4.7.31
St. Kilda: Nat Exon, Darcy Guttridge, Molly McDonald, Kate Shierlaw, Nicola Xenos
Gold Coast: Tara Bohanna (3), Sarah Perkins
St. Kilda: Rhiannon Watt (knee)
Gold Coast: Groves Little (head knock)
Although St. Kilda came into round eight winless and languishing on the bottom of the ladder, these two sides are actually fairly evenly matched, and that showed as this game unfolded. Both teams worked hard to apply pressure across the ground, both sides won a handful more uncontested possessions than they did contested and both sides used the ball at 63% disposal efficiency. The difference in the end was largely accuracy at goal.
There was a sense of dread emerging around the Saints as Sarah Perkins took a strong contested mark almost directly in front of goal in red time, with the Suns just four points down. For the second game in five days St. Kilda threatened to have their first victory of 2022 cruelly snatched away from them at the final moment, but a wayward shot from the typically accurate forward caused nothing but glee for the home team, as they locked the ball down until the siren sounded on their first win.
What St. Kilda did exceptionally well was prevent any of Gold Coast’s tough midfielders from winning a lot of ball and in doing so, they took away the Suns’ ability to generate plenty of attack from the likes of Alison Drennan, Charlie Rowbottom and Jamie Stanton. The trio had 14, 11 and 15 disposals respectively, with the former two well below their 2022 averages.
Tilly Lucas-Rodd has been the most consistent performer for St. Kilda this year, doing the tough stuff when her team has been down and out, so it’s only fitting that Lucas-Rodd was a star performer in this first victory. She ended the match with a game-high 21 disposals and nine tackles, fighting hard in the middle from first to last siren.
Collingwood v Western Bulldogs — Sunday @ Victoria Park
Collingwood 3.2.20 | 6.2.38 | 9.3.57 | 10.6.66
Western Bulldogs 1.3.9 | 3.3.21 | 4.4.28 | 6.5.41
Collingwood: Jaimee Lambert (3), Sabrina Frederick (2), Mikala Cann, Steph Chiocci, Eliza James, Chloe Molloy, Abbi Moloney
Western Bulldogs: Ellie Blackburn (2), Jess Fitzgerald, Sarah Hartwig, Kirsty Lamb, Nell Morris-Dalton
Collingwood: Brittany Bonnici (knee), Aliesha Newman (concussion)
Western Bulldogs: N/A
It’s no secret that Collingwood’s attacking half has been a concern for them this year, struggling to get the ball into attack and provide their forwards with opportunities to score. On Sunday, however, they looked a refreshed side. Their spread across the ground was enviable, finding space from their opponents with ease, and without the ball their pressure was immense. Laying 58 tackles for the game, each of those tackles hit hard and made an impact.
After registering the lowest score in club history back in round four, the Pies kicked their highest score on Sunday with 10.6.66, taking them past the illusive 60 point barrier for the first time. This included a strong performance from boom recruit Sabrina Frederick, who kicked two goals in the first half and looked threatening all day.
Vice captain Britt Bonnici has led Collingwood well this year without Brianna Davey out on the field, and her run and transition from inside the contest to outside is up there with the best players in the competition. But 13 minutes into the first quarter Bonnici landed awkwardly as she leapt to take a mark and that was her day done with a knee injury. What was impressive, however, was how each and every one of her teammates played out the match with the run and spread that Bonnici typically offers, and that effort to win the uncontested ball and control possession was what ultimately won the Pies the game.
One player in particular who went to a new level after seeing Bonnici helped off the field was the understated Jaimee Lambert. Always hardworking, Lambert was able to find more space than she is usually afforded and tore the Dogs to shreds. Ending the game with 22 disposals at 72.7% efficiency, seven tackles and three goals, she was the standout performer of the day.
West Coast v Brisbane — Sunday @ Lathlain Park
West Coast 0.0.0 | 0.0.0 | 2.0.12 | 4.0.24
Brisbane 4.3.27 | 7.4.46 | 11.4.70 | 15.8.98
West Coast: Hayley Bullas, Imahra Cameron, Evangeline Gooch, Dana Hooker
Brisbane: Sophie Conway (3), Jesse Wardlaw (3), Greta Bodey (2), Courtney Hodder (2), Dakota Davidson, Isabel Dawes, Jade Ellenger, Taylor Smith, Cathy Svarc
West Coast: Dana Hooker (knee)
Brisbane: Orla O’Dwyer (shoulder)
From the off this was simply a Brisbane masterclass. Jesse Wardlaw kicked the first goal of the match two minutes in, and the Lions just did not let up as they cruised to the highest score in AFLW history. They have better team chemistry than any side in the competition, and that was evident in the way they connected with one another with ease across the field, running onto a handball perfectly placed out in front so the receiver’s stride would not be broken, or kicking to space and backing in their teammates’ speed, using their 241 disposals at an incredible 71.4% efficiency.
In their unrelenting attacking effort, the Lions broke the AFLW record for most inside 50s with 52. Even more impressively, they registered a score from 44.2% of those entries. There was simply nothing the Eagles’ defenders could do to quell the barrage.
Despite winning the disposal count by 51, Brisbane also laid 37 more tackles than their opponents, which is a testament to their constant workrate—and somewhat of an indictment on the Eagles. 21 of those tackles were laid inside 50, where Zimmorlei Farquharson and Cathy Svarc combined for ten.
Emily Bates’ spectacular season has continued, racking up a career-high 31 disposals at 80.6% efficiency and registering a game-high 406 metres gained. Her work in the midfield is impressive, but it’s the way she covers the ground and skilfully uses the ball that raises her head and shoulders above most players in the competition.
West Coast was able to hit the scoreboard in the second half, but not even perfect accuracy could help their cause. The Eagles became the sixth side to finish a game with 100% scoring accuracy, and the fifth of those to end up the losing side.
GWS Giants v Carlton — Sunday @ Manuka Oval
GWS Giants 1.1.7 | 3.1.19 | 4.1.25 | 5.3.33
Carlton 1.2.8 | 3.3.21 | 5.8.38 | 7.9.51
GWS Giants: Cora Staunton (2), Nicola Barr, Katie Loynes, Tait Mackrill
Carlton: Abbie McKay (2), Darcy Vescio (2), Georgia Gee, Courtney Jones, Maddy Prespakis
GWS Giants: N/A
Carlton: Vaomua Laloifi (head knock)
Darcy Vescio has become the first AFLW player to kick 50 career goals, with two in two minutes to open the third quarter and put space between their Blues and the Giants. Vescio has not only been one of the best forwards the game has seen to date—and obviously most prolific—but also an incredible ambassador for the game for whom AFLW fans should certainly be grateful for. Congratulations Darcy!
The Carlton of round seven that comprehensively beat St. Kilda was back on show, dominating the possession count and showing a willingness to apply pressure high up the field. They laid a season-high 19 tackles inside 50, trapping the ball in their attacking zone for extended periods of time, while also getting the ball in there 34 times—their second highest count of the year.
Gab Pound’s ball use out of the back half was impressive, going at 76.2% efficiency with her 21 disposals, while also registering 11 intercepts and five inside 50s for the game. Her composure when under pressure, and decision making on the rebound is enviable.
For the Giants, Tanya Hetherington worked incredibly hard in defence, often seen running back with the flight of the ball to spoil a flying Carlton shot on goal. She registered 360 metres gained with her 16 disposals, and took five marks as she attempted to limit Carlton’s attack.
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