Presented by Ida Sports. In a lopsided round, the best teams rose to the top, while others were exposed after seemingly good performances last week.
Gold Coast v Brisbane — Thursday @ Carrara Stadium
Gold Coast 0.1.1 | 0.2.2 | 0.2.2 | 2.4.16
Brisbane 3.2.20 | 6.8.44 | 8.13.61 | 12.13.85
Gold Coast: Tori Groves-Little, Sarah Perkins
Brisbane: Taylor Smith (3), Courtney Hodder (2), Ally Anderson, Sophie Conway, Isabel Dawes, Orla O’Dwyer, Cathy Svarc, Jesse Wardlaw, Zimmorlei Farquharson
Gold Coast: N/A
Brisbane: Courtney Hodder (face)
Coming into this game the Suns were sitting seventh on the ladder and had won three of their five games, breaking their highest score record twice for the season, so while the Lions were an intimidating prospect, the Suns had the potential to take it to them. Unfortunately it became immediately evident that this would not be the case. Gold Coast looked tired early and weren’t able to bring their signature pressure around the ball. They laid 65 tackles for the match—below their average of 75 per game this year—and lost the count for just the third time this season.
Brisbane, however, knew that’s how the Suns wanted to play and used it against them. At the protected ground of Carrara Stadium, the Lions had a chance to show off their neat skills and fast game style that has been tough to execute in the extreme wind they have been playing in. Cathy Svarc’s breakaway from stoppages was a highlight as the midfielder worked closely on an opposing midfielder when the ball was thrown into the air, then exploded away when the ball was won. Svarc ended the game with 12 disposals, ten tackles, five running bounces and a goal, and no Sun was able to go with her.
Speaking of runners, Sophie Conway broke her personal record for metres gained with 432 from a career-best 17 disposals. In the first half her work on the outside and fitness to cover the ground did a heap of damage, and most importantly she used the ball at an impressive 70.6% efficiency.
Off the back of some personal player records, Brisbane kicked their way to the highest ever score from the club, breaking their 10.5.65 registered twice last year. In turn, they won by a club record of 69 points and really solidified their run toward back to back flags.
In attack, Brisbane equalled the most individual goalkickers for a side in an AFLW match with nine, and no duo caused more havoc in the forward line than Courtney Hodder and Zimmorlei Farquharson. Hodder has had a quieter start to the season than last year, kicking just the one goal in her first five games, but she was switched on from the jump against Gold Coast. Hodder laid four tackles for the game—all inside 50—and won a career-high 17 disposals on her way to kicking two goals. When Hodder wasn’t the problem for the Suns’ defence, it was Farquharson who returned to the side after illness kept her out against the Saints. She ended the game with a goal from seven disposals and took an impressive contested mark that will undoubtedly be on many a highlight reel.
Western Bulldogs v Geelong — Friday @ Whitten Oval
Western Bulldogs 0.2.2 | 2.4.16 | 3.9.27 | 3.10.28
Geelong 0.0.0 | 0.2.2 | 0.2.2 | 2.4.16
Western Bulldogs: Bonnie Toogood (2), Elisabeth Georgostathis
Geelong: Phoebe McWilliams, Chloe Scheer
Western Bulldogs: N/A
Evident as soon as the ball was thrown into the air was the Western Bulldogs’ skill when using the footy. Going at 66.7% disposal efficiency with their 249 disposals, the Dogs controlled possession for 47% of game time. This, interestingly, was off the back of winning the hitouts 38-14 but losing the clearance count 12-19. The Cats’ midfield worked hard to get that advantage in the midfield despite a weaker ruck division, but simply couldn’t make the most of it on the outside.
While Kirsty Lamb and Ellie Blackburn continued their impressive seasons, combining for 48 disposals, eight inside 50s and 11 tackles, Elisabeth Georgostathis stepped up around the ball to provide support. In the best game of her three year career to date, Georgostathis had 23 disposals, six tackles, four inside 50s and a goal for the game, helping to push the Dogs along in the second quarter where they began to do some scoreboard damage.
Another win for the Dogs was the return of Ellyse Gamble who has been battling an ankle injury so far this year, keeping her off the park. Gamble spent the night marking Phoebe McWilliams and her presence in the tough Dogs backline was a welcome sight. Gamble’s inclusion saw Sarah Hartwig swung into the forward line, with the coaching staff opting to allow Isabella Grant to continue her development in a defensive role. While Hartwig didn’t necessarily see a lot of the ball, her positioning and defensive work inside 50—particularly when going head to head with the in-form Maddy McMahon—was valuable.
During the warm up there were concerns about whether Georgie Prespakis would be able to play as she struggled to move freely through a fitness test. Prespakis took to the field, beginning in the forward line, and progressed into the midfield as the game went on. Her role wasn’t to win the ball, but to run with Ellie Blackburn and add a defensive side to the Cats’ midfield. Ending the game with 11 tackles, Prespakis was still able to play an important role for the night.
There were signs of the uncreative Geelong that we saw for much of last season on Friday night. Rarely looking to use the width of the ground, they regularly kicked down the line playing straight line footy, which was an easy kill for the disciplined Dogs defence. The home side, however, often looked to kick short and across the ground to be more decisive as they moved into attack.
GWS Giants v Adelaide — Saturday @ Henson Park
GWS Giants 0.0.0 | 0.2.2 | 0.3.3 | 0.5.5
Adelaide 0.4.4 | 2.6.18 | 3.11.29 | 5.15.45
GWS Giants: N/A
Adelaide: Ashleigh Woodland (2), Anne Hatchard, Ebony Marinoff, Lisa Whiteley
GWS Giants: N/A
Adelaide: Erin Phillips (knee)
In the first half of their surprise loss to the Bulldogs last week, Adelaide were torn away from their usual game style of this season. Against the Giants, the Crows regained that controlling, possessive style to dominate from start to finish. Last week Adelaide chose to kick 59.6% of the time—the only time for the year that this ratio has dipped below 60%—but that was back up to 62.6% of their 219 disposals on Saturday. With this kick-mark game, Adelaide is better able to tap into the immense skill of their list and make life exceptionally difficult for defenders.
The only place on the field where this skill fell away was in front of goal. Adelaide kicked 15 behinds for the game, breaking the AFLW record for most behinds in a game, and Danielle Ponter was responsible for six of those—also a new AFLW record.
While Adelaide registered 20 scoring shots for the match, the Giants once again struggled to move the ball forward, and when they did, rarely registered a shot on goal. In their last two games the Giants have had 35 inside 50s, five marks inside 50 and ten shots on goal for just one goal and six behinds. This is in stark contrast to their round four win over the Bulldogs, where they goaled every three inside 50 entries.
At the other end of the ground for the Giants, Pepa Randall has worked incredibly hard despite the difficult position she has often found herself in. Going up against the dangerous Ash Woodland for much of the match, Randall won 19 disposals and 487 metres gained—both career highs—and while she gave up two goals, she did everything she could to limit the deluge. This performance was not too dissimilar to last week’s match up on Melbourne’s Tayla Harris.
Carlton v St. Kilda — Saturday @ Princes Park
Carlton 3.1.19 | 5.5.35 | 5.5.35 | 7.6.48
St. Kilda 0.2.2 | 0.2.2 | 0.2.2 | 0.2.2
Carlton: Breann Moody (2), Darcy Vescio (2), Jess Good, Courtney Jones, Keeley Sherar
St. Kilda: N/A
St. Kilda: N/A
Last week the bottom of the ladder Saints pushed Brisbane with pressure and showed an ability to trap the ball in their forward half for extended periods of time, so it was fair to assume they would bring that pressure into this matchup against the 13th placed Carlton. Unfortunately, after the first five minutes of the game, that pressure and territory control disappeared and Carlton moved the ball at will.
The only time the Saints were willing to look laterally across the ground was deep in defence, but once the ball was outside their defensive 50, there was nothing but kicks down the line. For all of Carlton’s issues this year, their experienced defensive unit has not been one of them, and they read that ball down the line all day.
Six games into the season, the Saints are yet to win a second quarter. They have conceded 64 points from 24 scoring shots in second quarters, while scoring just 20 points themselves. They have effectively been handing momentum to the opposition heading into the half time break and attempting to claw their way back in the second half.
Carlton’s lack of pressure this year has really been a problem. They haven’t been able to slow down opposition sides on the transition and once the ball was given up through the middle, they were rarely able to win it back. Against St Kilda, however, the Blues raised the bar with that defensive running and they looked like a whole new team. They may have only laid 38 tackles for the game, but importantly they registered 72 intercepts. This was a far more proactive Carlton than we’ve seen to date.
Keeley Sherar made her return from a hand injury and played an important role outside the contest. The third-gamer finished the match with 11 disposals, five tackles and four intercepts, adding plenty of run to a Carlton side that has been sorely lacking run and carry this year.
West Coast v Richmond — Saturday @ Lathlain Park
West Coast 0.0.0 | 2.2.14 | 4.2.26 | 7.3.45
Richmond 4.2.26 | 6.5.41 | 8.7.55 | 10.8.68
West Coast: Aimee Schmidt (3), Emma Swanson (2), Hayley Bullas, Kellie Gibson
Richmond: Tayla Stahl (3), Katie Brennan (2), Christina Bernardi, Monique Conti, Meg Macdonald, Akec Makur Chuot, Ellie McKenzie
West Coast: Maddy Collier (ankle)
Excluding Richmond’s impressive opening quarter, this game was a wonderful push and pull between two sides that are really starting to show what they’re made of this year, albeit a little inconsistently. What put the Tigers on the front foot was really their slick handballing style that saw them move the ball quickly and efficiently. In the past this style has been attempted but those handballs haven’t consistently hit targets, but against the Eagles the accuracy was pinpoint.
Around the contest Monique Conti had enough support to play in a way that got the Tigers going, rather than stemming the flow of opposition midfielders. Sarah Hosking really stepped up to the plate, winning 13 disposals, six clearances and laying seven tackles for the match. With Conti’s five clearances, 24 disposals and nine tackles, the duo was able to not just clear the ball, but do it in a more considered way than they have in the past.
Adding to this, Ellie McKenzie played one of the best games of her short career, really proving how important she is to Richmond’s connection between the midfield and forward line. McKenzie delivered the ball inside 50 six times with her 18 disposals, and is one of the best players in the competition when it comes to kicking inside 50. Not to mention, she snuck forward to kick her first goal of the season as well.
For the Eagles, Emma Swanson is continuing her stunning season, once again one of their best. Her 22 disposals included a career-high two goals and a massive 539 metres gained, and she isn’t the only Eagle having a career-best season. In the forward half Aimee Schmidt has added a spark to the side. Coming into the year Schmidt had kicked ten goals across 23 games, and only once had she kicked multiple goals in a game. This year she has kicked seven goals in seven games, including three against the Tigers on Saturday. Her speed and agility means she is an ever-present danger inside 50 and as the Eagles find more consistency higher up the field and generate more attack, Schmidt’s impact will only increase.
North Melbourne v Collingwood — Sunday @ North Hobart Oval
North Melbourne 2.1.13 | 4.2.26 | 5.2.32 | 6.2.38
Collingwood 0.1.1 | 1.2.8 | 1.2.8 | 2.3.15
North Melbourne: Jasmine Garner (3), Tahlia Randall (2), Mia King
Collingwood: Jaimee Lambert, Amelia Velardo
North Melbourne: N/A
Collingwood: Erica Fowler (ankle)
The Kangaroos dominated disposal from the outset, and specifically the uncontested possession. Since joining the competition they have looked to that uncontested possession to maintain control of games, and against Collingwood it was no different. The Roos won the disposal count (+86), the uncontested possession count (+69) and the marks (+23) which simply didn’t allow Collingwood to get any settled possessions around the ground.
Jasmine Garner’s stunning run of form has continued, winning another 26 disposals on Sunday and covering the ground better than anyone. Garner got forward to kick three important goals and registered 388 metres gained for the match, letting her dominance show on the score sheet.
The knock for North Melbourne in this game, despite maintaining control across four quarters, was their efficiency in the forward half. They had 42 inside 50s for the match—22 more than the Pies— but only goaled in 14% of those entries. Far too often would the Roos have plenty of time and space when delivering forward, but were unable to place the ball to the advantage of their teammates. This is the key piece for North Melbourne to fix should they threaten all the way to the Grand Final.
Collingwood yet again couldn’t get the ball forward, and when they did, their forward line simply didn’t look dangerous. For the third time this year the Pies registered 20 or fewer inside 50s, and have kicked 15 or fewer points in three of their past four games. They are not getting enough output from those inside 50 and instead are relying on midfielders pushing up to impact the scoreboard, which isn’t sustainable.
Brisbane v Melbourne — Monday @ Carrara Stadium
Brisbane 1.3.9 | 3.5.23 | 4.5.29 | 4.8.32
Melbourne 0.0.0 | 1.0.6 | 4.4.28 | 5.5.35
Brisbane: Greta Bodey, Sophie Conway, Zimmorlei Farquharson, Orla O’Dwyer
Melbourne: Alyssa Bannan (2), Tayla Harris (2), Eliza West
While most would have expected this game to be a thriller, it lived up to that expectation in an unlikely way. Brisbane got the fast start, adapting to the dewy Carrara deck quicker than Melbourne. It was the willingness to, once again, lean on the one percenters and team connection that saw Brisbane get on top early. They pressured inside 50, laying 14 tackles inside 50 and setting up expertly behind the ball to make life hard for the Demons as they looked to repel the footy. This saw the Lions take a nine point lead into the quarter time break, and get out to a 23 point lead with 90 seconds remaining in the half.
When the going was tough for the Demons it was Tayla Harris who provided a spark of hope. The way she was flying for the ball and taking big contested marks gave Melbourne some control and time in attack, and it was the first time all year that the Lions’ defensive line was exposed without Kate Lutkins. Harris ended up equalling the record for most contested marks in a game with seven, seven score involvements and two goals to once again top the year’s goalkicking tally alongside Ash Woodland. It’s not only Harris’ ability to hit the scoreboard herself, but pinpoint bullet passes into teammates that make her so valuable to this Demons side.
This match ended as dramatically as—and eerily similar to—the respective round nine fixture between these two sides last year. A tight tussle ending with a kick after the siren from none other than Greta Bodey. Once again, Bodey’s kick couldn’t quite make the distance to the goal line, leaving Melbourne narrow winners, but Bodey’s night should not be defined by that final kick. She was very active particularly in the first half, and moved well in attack. Bodey finished the night with 15 disposals, and a goal to take her season tally to six.
There were enticing matchups all over the field, but two stood out as especially entertaining. The first was take two of the Courtney Hodder v Shelley Heath battle in the Lions’ forward 50. Both are small, tough and quick players who are simply relentless. Last year Hodder kicked what would go on to be goal of the year on Heath, but this time the Demon won out. The other was the aforementioned Bodey on Sinead Goldrick. Both showcased an ability to break the lines and create attack for their team.
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