Two-thirds through the home and away season, AFLW round six was the highest scoring in the competition’s history. Every game registered a score of 50+.
Richmond v North Melbourne – Friday @ Punt Road
Richmond 0.1.1 | 0.2.2 | 3.2.20 | 5.2.32
North Melbourne 3.2.20 | 6.5.41 | 6.5.41 | 10.7.67
Richmond: Christina Bernardi (2), Katie Brennan, Tayla Stahl, Courtney Wakefield
North Melbourne: Daisy Bateman (2), Emma King (2), Sophie Abbatangelo, Daria Bannister, Isabella Eddey, Jasmine Garner, Georgia Hammond, Emma Kearney
Richmond: Monique Conti (replaced in side by Christina Bernardi)
North Melbourne: N/A
- Yet again, North Melbourne controlled the uncontested possession count (89-153) and went on to win the game. The first half in particular was lopsided, with Richmond struggling to get their hands on the ball, or quell the Kangaroos’ forward entries—ending up with 18 of their own, less than half of the Roos’ 40.
- This discrepancy wasn’t necessarily reflected in the clearances, where the Tigers registered just three fewer than North Melbourne. Monique Conti was a late out for Richmond with some hamstring tightness, which saw Christina Bernardi come into the side—and kick two goals. After Conti was tightly held in round one, seeing Richmond decimated at the clearances, they have clearly made efforts to spread the load better, and nine separate Tigers registered a clearance for the match. Their issue came with the possession following each clearance.
- The most dominant midfielder for Richmond was Ellie McKenzie. She registered five clearances—equal most for the match—16 disposals and four tackles, and really took on that number one midfield role in the absence of Conti.
- For North Melbourne, Jasmine Garner yet again starred in every aspect of the game. With 22 disposals, five tackles, five clearances, seven intercepts and a goal, Garner is never out of the contest. Her ability to play both inside and outside midfield roles is ideal for North Melbourne and the way they want to play their footy. Garner has now kicked 30 goals in her career to date—half of which have come in the past two seasons while playing more time in the midfield. To go with this, she is averaging the most disposals (20.67), tackles (5.5) and clearances (5.83) of her career.
- Emma King was dominant—especially in that first half—and wrecked havoc with Richmond’s talls. Her positioning was outstanding, both down the line and inside 50, resulting in three contested marks and two goals to go along with her 21 hitouts.
GWS Giants v Brisbane – Saturday @ Manuka Oval
GWS Giants 0.1.1 | 0.2.2 | 1.3.9 | 2.5.17
Brisbane 3.3.21 | 6.7.43 | 7.11.53 | 7.13.55
GWS Giants: Elle Bennetts, Katherine Smith
Brisbane: Dakota Davidson (2), Isabel Dawes (2), Jade Ellenger, Courtney Hodder, Jess Wuetschner
GWS Giants: N/A
- The main lesson about the Giants from this game is that they simply don’t give up. In fact, they won the second half after going goalless to half time. They only allowed the Lions one goal in the second half, while finding some more structure across their own half forward line. Alicia Eva’s leadership shone through as the driving force, particularly given star midfielder Alyce Parker left the field injured during the final quarter.
- GWS had the extra challenge of containing Brisbane’s multi-pronged forward line without their two main key defenders in Tanya Hetherington and Louise Stephenson. This was compounded given the Giants lost the inside 50 count 19-48.
- Not only did the Lions enter their forward 50 more than double that of their opponents, they were highly focused on applying pressure once the ball was in there, laying 20 more tackles inside 50 than the Giants. Jess Wuetschner, Courtney Hodder and Dakota Davidson combined for ten of the Lions’ 23 tackles inside 50, creating repeat shots on goal, and resulting in 20 scoring shots—the most in the Lions’ history.
- Dakota Davidson’s work rate and quick thinking shone again, with a career-high ten disposals, five tackles and two goals—taking her season tally to 11. Alongside her, Courtney Hodder is proving just how tricky she is to limit. She had seven disposals—using the ball at 86% efficiency—six tackles and kicked a goal from nothing. Even flashier, however, was the behind she kicked. Winning the ball in the middle of the ground, Hodder took off running into an empty forward line, with no Giant fast enough to go with her. Unable to convert with the kick, it’s worth noting that Hodder has played just six AFLW games and is just 20 years of age.
- Brisbane appear to have learned from their round four loss to Adelaide, where they continuously attempted to go forward from the same side of the ground, and regularly saw the ball rebound out immediately. Against the Giants, they weren’t sucked in to a long kick forward to a pack, instead they formed a ring around their attacking 50m arc and changed angles before sending the ball forward. This made their entries far more difficult to read for the Giants’ defence and provided the Lions with more space to attack.
Adelaide v Gold Coast – Saturday @ Norwood Oval
Adelaide 2.1.13 | 7.2.44 | 10.5.65 | 13.7.85
Gold Coast 0.0.0 | 2.2.14 | 2.2.14 | 2.3.15
Adelaide: Danielle Ponter (4), Erin Phillips (2), Chelsea Randall (2), Anne Hatchard, Rachelle Martin, Chloe Scheer, Stevie-Lee Thompson, Ashleigh Woodland
Gold Coast: Leah Kaslar, Kate Surman
Adelaide: Hannah Button (shoulder), Nikki Gore (ankle)
Gold Coast: Jamie Stanton (ankle)
- The overarching story out of this match is the scoring records Adelaide created with their 13.7.85. It is the second highest score in AFLW history—and the club’s highest, beating their 10.10.70 from round seven, 2017. Importantly, it was the Crows’ most accurate scoring of the season at 65% and they enjoyed eight individual goal kickers for the match. Danielle Ponter headlined the list with four goals for the second time in her career.
- Chloe Scheer kicked her first goal of the season while continuing to excel in her new role this year. She had nine disposals, three inside 50s and four intercepts for the match, but it was her awareness of play and chemistry with teammates that really shone through. Scheer is very much a team-first midfielder/half forward who has a knack for putting the ball to her teammates’ advantage.
- Stevie-Lee Thompson’s return to the half back line has worked wonders for Adelaide’s transition from defence to attack. Her rebound run led to five inside 50s and 401 metres gained, not to mention a goal of her own. Thompson is playing in such a way that releases Chelsea Randall to play more in the forward line this year.
- The scoreline might suggest otherwise to some, but Gold Coast was in no way disgraced. They didn’t find themselves constantly trapped in defence as we’ve seen Adelaide do to teams in the past, and they found some genuine run and attack. They just couldn’t make it stick on the scoreboard. They weren’t helped, either, by an early ankle injury to star Jamie Stanton, robbing both their midfield and forward line of her expertise.
- Allowing the Suns a bit more flexibility within games, Bess Keaney is known largely for her run and endurance, but her defensive work has been outstanding. She has proven to be incredibly reliable in the backline, particularly in one-on-one situations. Keaney had 11 disposals and used the ball at 82% coming out of defence—no mean feat given Adelaide’s structure—while also taking five marks and registering six intercepts. This has allowed Serene Watson to be used more on the ball when needed—as was required in this game. Watson ended with the equal-most clearances on the ground (5) and 14 disposals.
Melbourne v St. Kilda – Saturday @ Casey Fields
Melbourne 2.2.14 | 4.3.27 | 7.6.48 | 9.12.66
St. Kilda 0.0.0 | 1.3.9 | 1.3.9 | 3.4.22
Melbourne: Alyssa Bannan (2), Daisy Pearce (2), Tegan Cunningham, Kate Hore, Eliza McNamara, Jacqui Parry, Shelley Scott
St. Kilda: Nat Exon, Tamara Luke, Claudia Whitfort
St. Kilda: N/A
- The thing that was immediately apparent in this game was the positional changes from Melbourne, in particular, Daisy Pearce playing at full forward. It was a high risk, high reward set up for the Demons who are still without key defender Meg Downie and are relying on young forward Brenna Tarrant to hold down that key back position. They were relying on midfield support dropping back when the ball moved into their defensive half, and while it worked a treat against the Saints. Their next three opponents—Adelaide, Fremantle and Brisbane—are a different story.
- Eden Zanker was key to this plan for Melbourne, playing the bulk of the game on the ball. Impacting right across the field, Zanker racked up 23 disposals, eight marks, three clearances, four intercepts and 320 metres gained. The Saints really didn’t have anyone that could go with Zanker across all three lines, and that led the Demon to find space and plenty of the ball.
- In the middle of the ground, the duo of Tyla Hanks and Lauren Pearce continues to be damaging. They work beautifully both as a team and individually, and up against what is largely considered a strong duo in Georgia Patrikios and Rhiannon Watt, they ran rampant. Each had 22 disposals and four tackles, while Hanks delivered inside 50 seven times and Pearce had 21 hitouts and five clearances.
- Battling strongly for the Saints was Tamara Luke. While she didn’t get a lot of the ball herself, Luke put herself in the right spots to challenge the aerial dominance of the Demons and really showed why the Saints love to have her in the team. Luke kicked the first goal of her career while also taking four marks and laying four tackles.
- Just once this year have the Saints won the inside 50 differential, with the past two rounds presenting a concerning gulf. Against Adelaide last week they conceded 47 inside 50s, while registering just eight of their own, while against Melbourne they lost the count 40-15. The thing is, they’re not being blown out of the water at the contest, it’s the way they’re using the ball on the outside that is putting them under pressure and resulting in turnovers. Against Adelaide they weren’t overly creative, but worse, they were too slow to break through a well-drilled Adelaide structure. Against Melbourne they did try to be more daring, but didn’t use the ball well enough for it to work overly effectively.
Carlton v Geelong – Sunday @ Ikon Park
Carlton 4.0.24 | 6.1.37 | 8.3.51 | 10.4.64
Geelong 2.1.13 | 2.3.15 | 4.4.28 | 4.7.31
Carlton: Georgia Gee (2), Serena Gibbs (2), Darcy Vescio (2), Natalie Plane, Gab Pound, Maddy Prespakis
Geelong: Olivia Barber, Richelle Cranston, Danielle Higgins, Rebecca Webster
Carlton: Mimi Hill (knee)
Geelong: Millie Brown (hamstring)
- In what was clearly the best performance from Geelong this year, they managed to also kick their highest score for 2021. What was important was how they held their length up the field, always having some options forward when they did win the ball in the back half. This has been a big problem for the Cats this season, and it was such a simple yet effective fix. Millie Brown also started the game up forward, which seemed to be a genius move until she was ruled out with a hamstring injury. Her defensive mindset, strength in the one-on-one and ability to challenge in the air and on the ground helped add another dimension to a struggling Geelong forward line.
- They weren’t helped by the delivery inside 50, either. Too often did they kick directly to a Carlton defender, or to their advantage rather than their teammate’s. It’s one thing to have players keep their structure within 50, but they can only do so much with that kind of delivery forward.
- The inside 50s were equal at 32 a piece, but it was the way Carlton went about them that was a class above. This year the Blues have certainly been guilty of just kicking forward in hope, but in this match they were far more considered with their decision-making and they were rewarded for that with their highest score of the year.
- Coming out of defence, Kerryn Harrington had her best game of the season. Taking on a genuine attacking role, Harrington had 22 disposals—at 86% efficiency no less—ten intercepts, 385 metres gained and three score involvements. Her run through the corridor broke the game open on multiple occasions and it really sparked some run from her teammates.
- Abbie McKay is having a very consistent season—in an inconsistent team—earning a rising star nomination in round three. Prior to this season she was averaging 7.5 disposals, 1.5 tackles and 0.75 clearances, each of these have risen to 13.86, 4.67 and 3 respectively. Against the Cats, McKay stepped up another level while star Maddy Prespakis spent some time off the field getting an elbow injury looked at.
Collingwood v Western Bulldogs – Sunday @ Victoria Park
Collingwood 0.5.5 | 0.7.7 | 4.8.32 | 7.9.51
Western Bulldogs 0.2.2 | 1.3.9 | 1.3.9 | 2.3.15
Collingwood: Chloe Molloy (2), Abbi Moloney (2), Tarni Brown, Brianna Davey, Sharni Norder
Western Bulldogs: Jess Fitzgerald, Elisabeth Georgostathis
Western Bulldogs: Kim Rennie (leg)
- Brianna Davey, it’s safe to say, is having one of the all time great individual AFLW seasons. She dominated against the Dogs, with 28 disposals, eight marks, seven tackles, eight inside 50s, 451 metres gained and a goal. Davey was a factor on all lines, and making her more dangerous is the way in which she brings her teammates into the game and makes them better.
- It really was the tale of two halves, not necessarily in terms of Collingwood creating opportunities, but certainly in them making the most of them. At half time they had seven scoring shorts—all behinds—to the Bulldogs’ four, and the disparity continued in the second half—nine scoring shots to one—the Pies, however, managed to kick seven goals.
- Collingwood’s forward craft is impressive. They controlled the air, taking eight marks inside 50, compared to the Dogs’ one, and also laid ten tackles inside 50 to the Dogs’ three. The aforementioned Davey laid two of those ten, but encouragingly, debutant Abbi Moloney laid two as well, to go along with a couple of goals.
- The first team to realise you cannot kick long into your forward line against the Pies’ backline—and execute that—will be the first team to beat them. Repeatedly we’re seeing teams go for that bomb kick forward only for Stacey Livingstone or Ruby Schleicher to cut it off. Ahead of the game it seemed that the Dogs had the assets to use speed out the back and run the ball forward, but they too got sucked into that ineffective kick in.
- Until last year the Pies had never won a match in the first three rounds of a season, and they broke that trend with wins in rounds one and two of 2020. This year they’ve well and truly put that to bed, still undefeated after six rounds, putting themselves in the box seat come finals.
West Coast v Fremantle – Sunday @ Optus Stadium
West Coast 0.1.1 | 0.1.1 | 1.1.7 | 1.2.8
Fremantle 2.2.14 | 5.5.35 | 10.6.66 | 11.9.75
West Coast Grace Kelly
Fremantle Gemma Houghton (5), Sabreena Duffy (3), Roxy Roux (2), Gabby O’Sullivan
West Coast N/A
- Fremantle’s forward line was the envy of the competition last year, averaging 51 points a game across 4.7 goal kickers. Ahead of round six, they were yet to find that destructive forward performance regularly, averaging just 38.6 points from 3.6 goal kickers. Against the Eagles, however, we saw that strong, hard to contain forward line of last year. Gemma Houghton became the first AFLW player to finish a match with five goals, Sabreena Duffy was involved in nine scores, three of which were her own goals, and young star Roxy Roux kicked two off the back of a couple of strong contested marks.
- Gabby O’Sullivan was their other goal kicker, but spent much of the game outside 50 connecting the midfield and attack. She took a career-high ten marks, with just one inside 50, and the lively way she plays certainly caused headaches for the Eagles.
- In defence, Emma O’Driscoll doesn’t necessarily have stats recorded to represent how important she was for the Dockers. While not grabbing any marks herself, O’Driscoll was not out-marked and was able to bring the ball to ground where her teammates were in support. Her awareness and positioning—knowing whether to attack a contest or remain on the outside as an outlet—works beautifully amongst Fremantle’s defensive unit, and is certainly a peek at the footy intelligence of young players coming through youth pathways.
- In the first and fourth quarters the Eagles prevented Fremantle from playing the way they wanted, largely thanks to their work rate and spread, but it just wasn’t maintained for the full four quarters. The Dockers want to get the ball into space and into the hands of Stephanie Cain and Ebony Antonio, which is exactly what they did in the second and third quarters. The run and carry provided by these wingers made their attacking play so hard to defend, and largely the reason they kicked 10.4 in that time.
- Kiara Bowers, Katie-Jayne Grieve and Hayley Miller combined for 20 clearances—the trio registered more than West Coast as a whole. This sort of control at the contest was something the Eagles simply couldn’t contend with, particularly without Dana Hooker.