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The Round Up: AFLW Round Five 2022

Presented by Ida Sports. Just one undefeated team remains, as both Geelong and the Western Bulldogs registered hard fought first wins of the 2022 season.

Geelong registered their first win of the year in a tough game against the Eagles. Image: Megan Brewer
Geelong registered their first win of the year in a tough game against the Eagles. Image: Megan Brewer

Geelong v West Coast — Friday @ Kardinia Park

Geelong 2.1.13 | 3.1.19 | 3.1.19 | 4.3.27
West Coast 0.0.0 | 1.3.9 | 2.5.17 | 3.6.24

Goals

Geelong: Phoebe McWilliams (2), Darcy Moloney, Rebecca Webster
West Coast: Mikayla Bowen, Niamh Kelly, Aimee Schmidt

Injuries

Geelong: N/A
West Coast: Aisling McCarthy (arm)

Both sides came into this game winless, but with very different storylines trailing them. The Cats had impressed, edging closer and closer to a breakthrough win to reward their evident improvement. West Coast meanwhile had a rockier start to the season, hubbing in Melbourne, COVID interruptions and an inability to put together a strong team performance. Given this, the consensus pre-game was that Geelong would finally break their ten-game losing streak at home and while this ended up being true, it wasn’t as straightforward as anticipated.

Geelong had the strongest first quarter of its season so far, kicking two goals through Rebecca Webster and Phoebe McWilliams with the aid of a fairly strong breeze, and held the Eagles scoreless. The home side dominated the territory game, making it difficult for West Coast to cleanly exit defence and keeping a backline that was missing Evie Gooch under constant pressure. 

Dana Hooker began the game at half back, matching up directly on Nina Morrison no less, but an early injury to Aisling McCarthy meant Hooker was spun back into the midfield. From there, Maddy Collier had the tough job of running with either Morrison or Georgie Prespakis as they rotated through the half forward line. When Geelong had the advantage of the wind, Morrison was forward and Prespakis in the middle, when they didn’t, the opposite set up would occur.

The speed and attack from Aimee Schmidt and Niamh Kelly turned the tides for West Coast, as they got on the move in the forward line and became really tough to defend. Often the Eagles have been guilty of sitting flat footed in the forward half, not creating options and serving as an intercept marker’s dream, and this did prove to be the case at times against Geelong. But in the second and fourth quarters, West Coast played much more proactive, unpredictable footy up forward and it served them well, resulting in goals to both Schmidt and Kelly, including one to dramatically put the Eagles in front with two minutes remaining.

Emma Swanson couldn't be contained by the Cats on Friday. Image: Megan Brewer
Emma Swanson couldn’t be contained by the Cats on Friday. Image: Megan Brewer

An inspired performance from captain Emma Swanson, including a career-high 27 disposals, almost pulled West Coast over the line, but Darcy Moloney had something to say. After Schmidt’s goal saw the Eagles steal the lead, Geelong put its big guns on the ball and won a quick, direct clearance through Webster. Once the ball was close to goal, the Cats scrambled to win the ball as Belinda Smith and Tayla Bresland held on for dear life. In comes Moloney with speed and clean hands, stealing the ball from the air and running into an open goal.

Brisbane v Collingwood — Saturday @ Maroochydore Multi Sport Complex

Brisbane 0.2.2 | 3.4.22 | 4.5.29 | 5.5.35
Collingwood 0.2.2 | 0.2.2 | 1.4.10 | 1.5.11

Goals

Brisbane: Zimmorlei Farquharson (2), Emily Bates, Greta Bodey, Dakota Davidson
Collingwood: Eloise Chaston

Injuries

Brisbane: Shannon Campbell (head)
Collingwood: N/A

The extreme wind was the biggest factor in this game. As the ball got trapped in the forward pocket to the left of the TV broadcast, it would regularly be quickly kicked out in an attempt to clear, and as the wind took the ball to the boundary, the last disposal out rule saw the attacking team kick straight back in. Brisbane adjusted to the wind better as the game went on, employing the speed and run of players like Orla O’Dwyer, Greta Bodey, Cathy and Ruby Svarc and Sophie Conway, they minimised the wind’s impact on their disposal by keeping it in close and using their hands more.

Collingwood has struggled to get the ball forward enough to generate high scores this year, and Saturday was no different. They lost the inside 50 count 37-20 and were able to convert just once. That being said, Eloise Chaston’s third-quarter goal was an impressive follow up after smothering a Phoebe Monahan attempt to clear the ball out of the pocket. 

Emily Bates is having a big, big season for Brisbane. On Saturday she won 22 disposals, registered 410 metres gained and kicked a goal—her third of the season. In 2022 Bates is averaging +5.4 average disposals, +2.6 average clearances and +1.2 average score involvements compared to her career numbers 2017-2021.

Jaimee Lambert and Brittany Bonnici have continued to work hard around the contest in the absence of Brianna Davey, but the Pies are still missing a bigger body that can efficiently transition to the outside of the contest. Collingwood won the clearances 15-19, but could not make best use of that control. Lambert, Bonnici and Downie combined for 12 of those clearances, and collectively registered 459 metres gained—just 49 metres more than what Bates was able to do on her own out of the middle for Brisbane. 

In just her third game, Zimmorlei Farquharson has continued to show how damaging her addition to Brisbane’s forward line can be. Her agility around the contest, but also ability to compete in the air caused problems for an under siege Collingwood backline. Farquharson ended the game with a game high two goals from her seven disposals.

Melbourne v Gold Coast — Saturday @ Casey Fields

Melbourne 0.3.3 | 2.4.16 | 4.7.31 | 5.8.38
Gold Coast 0.0.0 | 1.0.6 | 2.0.12 | 4.2.26

Goals

Melbourne: Tayla Harris (2), Megan Fitzsimon, Eliza McNamara, Daisy Pearce
Gold Coast: Alison Drennan, Ellie Hampson, Kalinda Howarth, Jamie Stanton

Injuries

Melbourne: N/A
Gold Coast: Lauren Ahrens (hamstring)

While not quite as strong as the preceding Brisbane v Collingwood match, the wind was a big factor down at Casey Fields. A number of early shots on goal bent in the air away from the goals as players settled into the conditions.

With a midfield of Karen Paxman, Eden Zanker, Lily Mithen and Eliza West, you’d be forgiven for not realising Melbourne was missing two big names in Tyla Hanks and Maddi Gay. In addition to this, Lauren Pearce effectively becomes an extra midfielder around the ground. Despite spending the week under an injury cloud, Pearce ended the game with the highest disposals (20), hitouts (20), clearances (7), intercepts (8) and contested marks (2) on the field.

Melbourne’s inability to find marks inside 50 last week really stunted the way they’re looking to score this year. This is something they were able to clean up against the Suns, registering seven marks inside 50 for the game. While their accuracy at goal left a little to be desired, and was not helped by the wind, the Demons were at least creating opportunities for themselves to score. Melbourne laid 26 tackles inside 50 for the night, creating repeat opportunities and maintaining territory control.

On the topic of pressure, the two sides combined for 178 tackles, the highest aggregate tackle count in AFLW history. Gold Coast won the tackle count 87-91 after identifying that pressure is key to shutting down the Demons’ ball movement. Just one Sun—Sarah Perkins—failed to lay a tackle for the game, and Alison Drennan led the way in her 25th match with ten. For Melbourne, three players laid ten or more tackles, with Lily Mithen’s 12 the most on the field.

Last quarter surges after grinding out a game have become a signature for Gold Coast of recent, and they threatened to run over the top of Melbourne in the final term on Saturday night. Coming home with the advantage of the wind, the Suns controlled the territory game and the maturity of Drennan and Jamie Stanton came to the fore. Kicking two goals from four scoring shots compared to one goal and one behind for Melbourne, the Suns used a combination of speed out the back and contested work close to goal to really press Melbourne until the final siren.

Western Bulldogs v Richmond — Sunday @ Whitten Oval

Western Bulldogs 1.2.8 | 2.2.14 | 4.6.30 | 4.6.30
Richmond 0.2.2 | 1.3.9 | 1.5.11 | 1.7.13

Goals

Western Bulldogs: Ellie Blackburn, Celine Moody, Nell Morris-Dalton, Bonnie Toogood
Richmond: Katie Brennan

Injuries

Western Bulldogs: N/A
Richmond: Kate Dempsey (lower leg), Hannah Burchell (knee), Laura McClelland (ankle)

Now that the Western Bulldogs have been able to get more of their first choice players on the park in consecutive games, we’ve been able to see what they’re looking to do this year. That clean handball receive for runners coming from behind, using the athleticism and speed they have to their advantage. 

While both sides boast stars in the middle, the depth and variety of the Dogs served them well against Richmond. Kirsty Lamb led the way with 27 disposals and nine marks, while captain Ellie Blackburn had 25 disposals and five tackles. Jess Fitzgerald, Elisabeth Georgostathis and Celine Moody are also handy around the contest. For Richmond, however, Monique Conti is still carrying the bulk of the load. Ellie McKenzie’s return from a calf injury is certainly going to continue to help in this area of the ground, but there still isn’t enough spread through the middle of the ground for Richmond to go with the better midfields.

Injuries are definitely not going to help the Tigers, however, as they lost a further three players during this match. Hannah Burchell seemed to suffer a nasty knee injury, while both Kate Dempsey and Laura McClelland went down with ankle issues. Christina Bernardi also missed the game through injury, and important key position players Courtney Wakefield and Harriet Cordner are sitting on the sidelines. Regaining Poppy Kelly and Ellie McKenzie was a positive for the side, but those injuries are building up.

While the Tigers are dealing with mounting injuries, the Bulldogs have started to get back their first choice backline, really only missing Ellyse Gamble from that group now. The combination of Eleanor Brown, Katie Lynch, Naomi Ferres and Ash Guest is really solid and scrambles well on the last line. The balance that group has between strong aerial players, and clean ground-level runners, combined with really good game awareness, makes them a tough prospect to score against. It’s not just about getting the ball in there, they fight until the last possible moment.

Carlton v Adelaide — Sunday @ Princes Park

Carlton 0.2.2 | 0.3.3 | 1.3.9 | 1.6.12
Adelaide 1.2.8 | 2.7.19 | 3.9.27 | 7.9.51

Goals

Carlton: Georgia Gee
Adelaide: Ailish Considine (2), Anne Hatchard, Caitlin Gould, Eloise Jones, Danielle Ponter, Lisa Whiteley

Injuries

Carlton: Brooke Vickers (ankle)
Adelaide: N/A

Mimi Hill made a stunning return to AFLW after tearing her ACL in her sixth game last year. Arguably Carlton’s best player—alongside Gab Pound—Hill worked tirelessly around the contest, finding space and moving the ball forward. She ended a tough day for the Blues with a team high 25 disposals, eight intercepts and 340 metres gained. It was a real show of maturity from the 19 year old in just her seventh game.

Mimi Hill starred on what was a tricky day for the Blues. Image: Megan Brewer
Mimi Hill starred on what was a tricky day for the Blues. Image: Megan Brewer

The Blues want to play quick footy to expose opposition defences out the back, which is a sound plan until they are unable to execute that quick ball movement cleanly enough to actually achieve the forward entries. Too often a poor disposal or odd choice under pressure stunted that attack from Carlton as they relied on a handful of players to really drive that style of play.

Adelaide continue to be a powerhouse of the competition, and the side is finding consistent, team carrying performances from younger supporting players this year, which makes them that much more dangerous. In the past they have been guilty of relying too heavily on the quartet of Chelsea Randall, Erin Phillips, Anne Hatchard and Ebony Marinoff. While Hatchard, Marinoff and Phillips had a big say in this one, it’s players like Eloise Jones, Montana McKinnon and Nikki Gore who are really making an impact around the ground and create opportunities for their stars.

Sarah Allan reaches to spoil a ball against the Blues. Image: Megan Brewer
Sarah Allan reaches to spoil a ball against the Blues. Image: Megan Brewer

Speaking of stars, stand-in captain Sarah Allan continues to be one of the best defenders the league has seen. Bringing a calmness behind the ball, she sets up Adelaide’s backline efficiently thanks to her leadership and ability to read the play as it develops in front of her. Typically known for how she competes in the air, Allan’s highlight this week was in fact a stunning run down tackle of Courtney Jones, saving a certain goal.

Coming into this game, everyone was licking their lips at the prospect of potentially seeing the first 50 goal player, as both Phillips (46 career goals) and Darcy Vescio (45) made their way onto the field. Phillips teased, taking four impressive shots on goal as the game progressed, but ending with narrow misses each time to end the game with four behinds.

North Melbourne v Fremantle — Sunday @ North Hobart Oval

North Melbourne 1.1.7 | 1.5.11 | 2.8.20 | 3.8.26
Fremantle 1.1.7 | 1.2.8 | 2.2.14 | 2.4.16

Goals

North Melbourne: Sophie Abbatangelo, Isabella Eddey, Tahlia Randall
Fremantle: Ebony Antonio, Gemma Houghton

Injuries

North Melbourne: N/A
Fremantle: N/A

North Melbourne did their homework on how to minimise the efficiency of Fremantle’s attack. Forcing the Dockers to take their shots from significant angles, or from 40+ metres really prevented the previously undefeated side from piling on a damaging score. A number of the Dockers’ shots on goal did fall short, and the Kangaroos had representation on the goal line to either win and rebound the ball, or rush it through for a behind.

Jasmine Garner has been used in a few different ways this year, lowering her regular output both in the midfield and up forward when compared to recent seasons. On Sunday, we were treated to a vintage Jasmine Garner performance as she won 29 disposals and registered 439 metres gained. 

Tahlia Randall’s move into the forward line has felt like a bit of a tease so far this year, as she has flown for a number of marks but was yet to put together a really solid four quarter performance as North Melbourne’s big key forward. Prior to Sunday, Randall had registered five marks inside 50 and six shots on goal, for a return of one goal and five behinds. Against Fremantle, the defender-turned-forward was crashing packs and dominating in the air, taking three big contested marks and kicking a goal just when Fremantle threatened to run over the top of the Roos.

While they will be smarting from the loss, the Dockers head home after nearly a month in a Melbourne hub with five wins from six games to their name, and a game in hand compared to the rest of the competition. It hasn’t been easy for Fremantle, playing three games in the space of 11 days, but they have persisted, led very well by captain Hayley Miller and inaugural player Ebony Antonio.


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