Presented by Ida Sports. A classy Friday night battle and huge upset win to end the round punctuated the drama that is AFLW this weekend.
Gold Coast v Geelong — Friday @ Carrara Stadium
Gold Coast 1.3.9 | 3.3.21 | 6.6.42 | 7.7.49
Geelong 2.0.12 | 2.0.12 | 3.0.18 | 6.2.38
Gold Coast: Tori Groves-Little (2), Lauren Bella, Tara Bohanna, Ellie Hampson, Jamie Stanton, Kate Surman
Geelong: Phoebe McWillians (2), Chloe Scheer (2), Kate Darby, Zali Friswell
Gold Coast: N/A
For the second time this season, the Gold Coast Suns broke the record for their highest ever score. This has been off the back of a really dynamic forward combination that is really tough to defend. Tara Bohanna is dangerous both in the air and on the ground. Sarah Perkins’ footy awareness is next level, pulling multiple defenders on a regular basis. Kate Surman reads the ball off hands particularly well, capitalising on Bohanna and Perkins’ strength to equal the contest in the air. And on Friday night, they had the added bonus of Tori Groves-Little in just their second game of the season. Their speed and willingness to back themself in adds yet another dimension to the Suns’ attack.
That forward line is supported well by a deeper midfield group than the Suns have had in the past. Alison Drennan leads the midfield, winning a career-high 30 disposals on Friday, but is no longer a lone hand. Last year Jamie Stanton missed the last three games of the year and Jacqui Yorston was inactive due to an ACL tear. This year both Stanton and Yorston are back, which has been crucial, but they’ve also recruited Claudia Whitfort whose strength around stoppages is underrated. Whitfort led the field for clearances on Friday with eight, and is averaging career-high disposals (12.3), inside 50s (2.3) and clearances (4.3).
Another handy midfielder the Suns have at their disposal is Charlie Rowbottom who went head-to-head with Georgie Prespakis for the duration of the game. Rowbottom showed off her strength around the contest and footy awareness, seen getting her arms free when being tackled so as to still dispose of the ball. She ended the game with 16 disposals, four clearances, five score involvements and seven tackles. Prespakis was also dynamic, using speed and power to break free from stoppages, registering 17 disposals, six tackles, six clearances and 274 metres gained. Don’t worry about stars of the future, they’re stars of now.
Chloe Scheer has spent most of her season to date isolated in Geelong’s goalsquare, and has found it difficult to get involved in games due to a lack of supply. On Friday Scheer started the game at half forward, with Phoebe McWilliams out of the goalsquare, and it worked wonders early. Leading up out of the forward 50 and delivering the ball expertly to teammates, Scheer was able to set up the first two goals of the game with her vision and skill.
Richmond v North Melbourne — Saturday @ Punt Road Oval
Richmond 0.1.1 | 1.3.9 | 2.3.15 | 2.6.18
North Melbourne 1.2.8 | 3.2.20 | 5.5.35 | 5.7.37
Richmond: Katie Brennan, Emelia Yassir
North Melbourne: Sophie Abbatangelo, Daria Bannister, Jasmine Garner, Mia King, Tahlia Randall
North Melbourne: Daisy Bateman (ankle)
North Melbourne has continued to win the uncontested ball to find control in games. 58.7% of the side’s possessions this year have been uncontested, averaging a competition high 138.3 each game, and are also winning the most disposals in the competition with 237.8 each week. In addition to this, they use the ball better than any other side, hitting targets 67% of the time. They are winning more ball, and using it better, than anyone else.
Jasmine Garner had a quieter start to the season by her standards, averaging 18 disposals and 3.3 score involvements across her first four games. Over the last fortnight, however, she has flicked the switch and is back to her dominant self. On Saturday Garner registered 26 disposals, seven clearances, 438 metres gained and nine inside 50s—the equal second most in AFLW history. Her drive and ball use out of the middle of the ground has allowed North Melbourne to find its groove for season 2022.
Tahlia Randall’s move to the forward line had felt unsatisfying early in the season, flying for plenty of marks but rarely able to bring them down. Over the past couple of weeks Randall has settled into the role and has become much more of a presence for the Kangaroos. Randall has taken three marks inside 50 in each of her past two games, after averaging just 1.3 across the first four weeks of the season and has kicked a goal in each of the last three weeks. No longer are they relying on her to simply bring the ball to ground for their dangerous smalls, now she is also impacting the scoreboard herself as well.
Although Richmond has really struggled since copping injuries to key players, one bright light for the side is full back Rebecca Miller. While Richmond is conceding seven more inside 50s per game than it did last year, Miller is holding down the fort as well as she possibly can. She is averaging +5.8 disposals, +2.6 rebounds, +2.7 intercepts and +135.4 metres gained this year compared to her career average coming into the season. If it were not for Miller, things would look far more dire for the Tigers.
Melbourne v Greater Western Sydney — Saturday @ Casey Fields
Melbourne 2.2.14 | 2.3.15 | 3.8.26 | 6.8.44
GWS Giants 0.0.0 | 0.0.0 | 0.0.0 | 1.1.7
Melbourne: Tayla Harris (2), Kate Hore (2), Daisy Pearce, Shelley Scott
GWS Giants: Jess Doyle
GWS Giants: Erin McKinnon (head knock)
After a stunning round four win where Nicola Barr jagged three goals, to a week on the sidelines due to COVID, it was a tough lead up to this game for the Giants. While the first half of the game was an arm wrestle, GWS struggled to get the ball forward, and when they did, shots on goal were nowhere to be seen thanks to a well drilled Melbourne defence. The Giants failed to register a score until the final 90 seconds of the match, and recorded just three shots on goal for the game.
For the second week in a row, Shelley Heath had the role of shutting down a dangerous opposition forward, and executed the task expertly. Heath ran with Cora Staunton for the four quarters, and provided the forward with no space or time to even consider impacting the scoreboard. Heath kept Staunton from registering any shots on goal, and made her presence known with a brilliant run down tackle as the Giant darted toward goal.
Another cog in Melbourne’s defensive group was late inclusion Alison Brown after Sarah Lampard was withdrawn due to illness. Brown had already run 9.4km in Casey’s VFLW win earlier in the day, but stepped up to the plate when needed and ran out the game well, playing as an anchor to the Demons’ backline.
Eliza West’s addition to Melbourne’s list has gone relatively unnoticed, but her impact has been significant. Against the Giants West registered a career-high 20 disposals, six clearances and five inside 50s while working hard to close down space on opponents across the ground. Just six games into her AFLW career, West has added another layer of depth to the Demons’ midfield.
All Australian midfielder Alyce Parker had a strong start to the game, winning 18 disposals to half time, but had a hard time making those disposals really damaging, going at 48% efficiency with the ball. In the second half, Tyla Hanks was sent to run with Parker and held her to just five disposals for the rest of the game. Put simply, not enough Giants were able to get their hands on the ball to help pick up the slack when Parker was limited in the second half.
Fremantle v Carlton — Sunday @ Fremantle Oval
Fremantle 1.0.6 | 2.1.13 | 6.2.38 | 7.9.51
Carlton 1.2.8 | 1.2.8 | 1.2.8 | 1.3.9
Fremantle: Mikayla Morrison (3), Mikayla Hyde (2), Kara Antonio, Jasmin Stewart
Carlton: Darcy Vescio
Fremantle: Roxy Roux (hamstring awareness)
Carlton: Madison Prespakis (back)
In what has been a tough run for the Blues, over the past two weeks they have had two real shining lights in Grace Egan and Mimi Hill, both returning from serious injuries. Egan played with confidence and dare despite fracturing two ribs and experiencing a punctured lung in round one and finished the match with 22 disposals and 340 metres gained. Hill has hit the ground running on the comeback from an ACL injury, following up her 25 disposal performance last week with another 25 touches, four inside 50s and 360 metres gained.
For the Dockers, Hayley Miller’s incredible season continues to roll on. Against the Blues she registered a casual 24 disposals, eight clearances and eight score involvements—all career best numbers—as well as a massive 622 metres gained, which is also the sixth most in competition history.
In a forward line that has been led by Ebony Antonio, Miller and Gemma Houghton, Fremantle’s forward spread has been what makes them so hard to stop. 15 different Dockers have kicked a goal this year, including third-gamer Mikayla Morrison who presented well in attack to kick three against Carlton. The side is averaging 4.3 goalkickers and 43.1 points each game off the back of this attacking spread.
Carlton might have won more ball than their opponents, but relied heavily on moving it by hand, not giving themselves much breathing space and in turn, went at their second lowest disposal efficiency of the season so far. They are struggling to maintain the desired quick, running and overlap game style with the way they are disposing of the ball each week, and then aren’t defending well enough through the middle of the ground when they do cough the ball up. In the first half, it seemed that they had fixed some of those defensive issues, but dramatically fell away as the game went on. That defensive effort through a full four quarters is the first step for Carlton as they look to improve in the back half of the season.
St. Kilda v Brisbane — Sunday @ Trevor Barker Beach Oval
St. Kilda 2.0.12 | 2.1.13 | 2.1.13 | 4.2.26
Brisbane 0.4.4 | 0.9.9 | 3.11.29 | 3.13.31
St. Kilda: Nicola Xenos (2), Caitlin Greiser, Tilly Lucas-Rodd
Brisbane: Greta Bodey, Sophie Conway, Luka Yoshida-Martin
St. Kilda: N/A
Brisbane: Dakota Davidson (head knock)
In a team that is missing it’s stars, Nicola Xenos has emerged as a game changer for the Saints. Her early forward pressure caught the Lions off guard, as she slotted the first two goals of the game off the back of that pressure. She ended the game with five touches, two goals and six tackles, three of which were inside 50. If this is what Xenos can do with limited access, imagine the damage possible when the Saints are able to bring the ball forward more.
It’s fair to say that Caitlin Greiser has had a difficult start to the season. Goalless in their first two games then dropped from the side, she has been a different player since earning her recall. Against the Lions Greiser didn’t just sit forward waiting for the ball to come in. Instead, she worked really hard up the ground to provide support and, knowing she has one of the biggest boots in the competition, used to wind to her advantage when winning the ball on the wing, kicking more than one massive bomb inside 50. Greiser also read the state of play well, positioning herself dangerously in the goalsquare and jagging a goal thanks to that smart thinking.
St. Kilda made life tough for the Lions, limiting the space their host of runners could find and in doing so, shut down much of the away side’s ball movement. This forced Brisbane to confront the wind more than they typically would and added to their poor accuracy in front of goal. The Lions kicked 11 consecutive behinds before registering their first goal through debutant Luka Yoshida-Martin.
The next layer of the Saints’ pressure was the positioning of their talls. Brisbane’s defence typically likes to find run on the rebound and make use of the corridor, but because of the pressure they were kicking long down the line more often than they typically do. Talls Kate Shierlaw and Leah Cutting did well to get to those contests and compete so the likes of Taylor Smith and Tahlia Hickie couldn’t dominate the air and give the Lions some breathing space.
West Coast v Collingwood — Sunday @ Lathlain Park
West Coast 0.0.0 | 0.1.1 | 1.2.8 | 3.4.22
Collingwood 2.0.12 | 2.3.15 | 6.3.27 | 7.4.46
West Coast: Imahra Cameron, Dana Hooker, Niamh Kelly
Collingwood: Sophie Alexander (2), Chloe Molloy (2), Brittany Bonnici, Mikala Cann, Amelia Velardo
West Coast: N/A
On the expanses of Lathlain Park, West Coast’s game style started to come into focus. It’s not yet sharp focus, but it’s certainly clearer than it’s been so far this season. Using the speed of Mikayla Bowen, Niamh Kelly and Aimee Schmidt the Eagles showed the running game they aim to play, sending the ball into a spacious forward line. While it didn’t quite work all game, there is a system coming together that can certainly be built on.
Without Sophie McDonald in the side due to concussion, the Eagles really missed her ability to wear an opponent in defence. Niamh Kelly spent most of the game across the back half to support the defensive unit that was also without Amber Ward, and they really missed her spark up forward.
The duo of Britt Bonnici and Jaimee Lambert combined for 50 disposals, eight inside 50s, 11 clearances, 13 intercepts and 912 metres gained. They work tirelessly in the midfield for Collingwood, but it was their ability to get the ball into attack that was most dangerous—and what the Pies have been lacking with Brianna Davey out of the side.
Collingwood got the ball inside 50 a season high 40 times—double their season average—and looked really dangerous in attack for the first time this year. The question, however, is whether this is sustainable. They have relied heavily on free kicks and 50m penalties to aid in their scoring this year, and that was no different on Sunday afternoon, scoring two goals in the third quarter from 50m penalties. Backing up this attacking performance with a solid forward presence against North Melbourne on Sunday is vital to their season’s fortunes.
Adelaide v Western Bulldogs — Sunday @ Norwood Oval
Adelaide 2.0.12 | 3.2.20 | 4.4.28 | 7.6.48
Western Bulldogs 4.1.25 | 6.1.37 | 7.1.43 | 8.1.49
Adelaide: Lisa Whiteley (2), Ashleigh Woodland (2), Caitlin Gould, Hannah Munyard, Stevie-Lee Thompson
Western Bulldogs: Bonnie Toogood, Ellie Blackburn, Richelle Cranston, Britney Gutknecht, Kirsty Lamb, Celine Moody, Nell Morris-Dalton
Western Bulldogs: Brooke Lochland (concussion), Aurora Smith (knee)
Coming into this game, the Western Bulldogs needed to capitalise on the centre clearance dominance they have shown this year, and capitalise they did. The Dogs won two quick centre clearances resulting in two early goals to immediately get Adelaide on the back foot. Ellie Blackburn led the way in this regard, registering five centre clearances for the game to really set her side up.
Across the first five rounds of the season the Crows had conceded just one goal in total in first quarters, and just three goals in first halves. By the quarter time break the Dogs had kicked four goals to break all of those defensive trends. This quick start limited the amount of time the Crows had to peg that lead back, which proved important as the visitors lost two players early in the game and were on limited rotations in the Adelaide heat.
It took the Crows some time to find a system in attack without relying on their usual uncontested kick-mark game, but their second half surge came off the back of their big guns lifting. Anne Hatchard’s aerial presence and aerobic capacity saw her work hard from contest to contest, and Stevie-Lee Thompson used her speed to run through contests.
The Western Bulldogs’ defence has withstood an average of 29 inside 50s a game this year, and has stood up strongly in the face of that. Naomi Ferres, Ashleigh Guest, Katie Lynch, Eleanor Brown and Celine Moody combined for 26 intercepts across the game, but more important than that was their desperate, last line of defence late in the game. Refusing to give up the win, the Dogs got back into the goalsquare and thwarted repeated attempts from the Crows to snatch the lead in the dying moments.
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