Pride round, some last minute scheduling, locked out games, and we’re starting to see a bit of separation on the ladder after AFLW round two.
Western Bulldogs v Carlton – Friday @ Whitten Oval
Western Bulldogs 0.3.3 | 2.4.16 | 3.6.24 | 6.6.42
Carlton 1.0.6 | 3.3.21 | 5.4.34 | 5.6.36
Western Bulldogs: Ellie Blackburn (2), Kirsten McLeod (2), Jess Fitzgerald, Isabel Huntington
Carlton: Tayla Harris (2), Georgia Gee, Katie Loynes, Elise O’Dea
Western Bulldogs: Bailey Hunt (calf)
- The Dogs went into this game with quite a young defensive group—Eleanor Brown (21), Sarah Hartwig (18), Katie Lynch (20), Naomi Ferres (23) and Ellyse Gamble (23) made up five of their six named defenders, and stood up to a number of challenges thrown their way. What stood out was the maturity within that group to retain their structure and not get sucked into the contest with their direct opponents. Carlton would look to exit defence, but be under immediate pressure again thanks to a well organised Dogs backline. Katie Lynch is a particularly good inclusion here—while she largely played forward at Collingwood, Lynch was a promising defender in her junior years and has flourished this year once again playing in defence.
- When Carlton was able to break through and get the ball forward, they were quite inefficient. When locking it inside 50 it was a struggle to get shots off. This is the second week in a row that the Blues have had a bit of a surge late in the game in an attempt to come from behind, but couldn’t make the most of their dominant field position. The value of Brooke Walker and Chloe Dalton is becoming more and more evident, with Georgia Gee alone left to shoulder that role.
- This issue for Carlton extends to pressure right across the field. Last week Collingwood got the jump on them by intensely pressuring every Carlton possession, and early in this game it looked like the Blues had worked through this. It didn’t take long, however, for the Dogs to employ this tactic effectively and gain ascendancy around the ball. The difference between the first and second half once the Dogs worked that out? Their efficiency at goal, kicking 2.4.16 in the first half, and 4.2.26 in the second.
- In just her second game Jess Fitzgerald was among the Dogs’ best, with her clean collection of the ball coming to the fore. Fitzgerald had a whopping 433 metres gained—the most of any player for the evening—and kicked her first AFLW goal in style.
- And no-one should discuss this game without mentioning Ellie Blackburn, who is in career-best form. With 22 disposals, two goals, five inside 50s and 412 metres gained, the Dogs’ captain was the one with the heroics when they needed a spark. Crucial to Blackburn’s game is the positive attacking way in which she uses her possessions, gaining ground and bringing teammates into the game. An exceptional player, but what’s more, she is an exceptional leader.
Collingwood v Geelong – Saturday @ Victoria Park
Collingwood 2.0.12 | 3.4.22 | 3.7.25 | 6.9.45
Geelong 2.2.14 | 2.3.15 | 2.3.15 | 2.4.16
Collingwood: Sophie Alexander, Mikala Cann, Brianna Davey, Chloe Molloy, Sarah Rowe, Ruby Schleicher
Geelong: Olivia Barber, Maddy Boyd
- The Cats once again struggled out of the midfield, which really prevented them from getting a hold of the game in any way. Last year their young midfield was the most improved area of the ground for them, and heading into this season it was expected that they would at least maintain that—albeit without Nina Morrison. Unfortunately they haven’t been able to show that strength out of the middle this year.
- Geelong’s issues in the midfield bled into their attack for the second week running, too. They brought in Olivia Barber and Stephanie Williams for more scoring power, but it was their entries forward that proved most detrimental to Geelong’s ability to score. The pressure on the midfield’s disposal led to endless intercepts by a very strong Collingwood defence—a defence which thrives on driving the ball quickly into attack.
- Brittany Bonnici has continued her brilliant 2020 form, with close to the best work rate in the competition. Her endurance combined with the way she reads the play sees her getting to contest after contest, supporting her teammates. This week she played more of an outside role than she did against Carlton, complementing the in-and-under work of Davey, Norder and O’Dea.
- Speaking of Brianna Davey, her power was on display in this game, winning 25 disposals and four clearances, but crucially she delivered the ball forward eight times and kicked a goal for the second week running. She was single-handedly able to show exactly what the Cats have been struggling with.
- Collingwood’s forward line continues to intrigue, with goals coming through a curious range of players, and a scoring accuracy of just 38%. They dominated the game during the second and third quarters, keeping Geelong scoreless, but were only able to register one goal and seven behinds of their own. Not to mention, two of their goals came via 50m penalties. It’s still that last piece of the puzzle that they need to adjust.
Melbourne v Richmond – Saturday @ Casey Fields
Melbourne 1.0.6 | 3.1.19 | 5.2.32 | 7.2.44
Richmond 1.0.6 | 1.2.8 | 1.3.9 | 2.4.16
Melbourne: Alyssa Bannan (2), Kate Hore (2), Tegan Cunningham, Karen Paxman, Shelley Scott
Richmond: Sabrina Frederick, Sarah Hosking
Melbourne: Krstel Petrevski (hamstring)
- Heading into this game, Richmond’s tall, marking forwards loomed as game breakers, given Melbourne’s thin key defensive stocks. Richmond could have really exploited the Demons defence by using the air and crashing packs, but they rarely used that option going forward. Sinead Goldrick had to play much taller than her 168cm, Libby Birch had to largely play one-on-one rather than her preferred intercepting role, and Daisy Pearce often found herself reaching for a spoil to quell a Richmond lead.
- Although the Tigers didn’t utilise that aerial advantage, they did keep the ground level pressure on, laying 20 tackles inside their forward 50 to Melbourne’s six. This forced the Demons backline to stay switched on and focused all game, as Richmond registered just one fewer inside 50 than Melbourne.
- Sinead Goldrick was exceptional for the Demons, combining roles effortlessly. As previously mentioned, she needed to play much of the game as a key one-on-one defender, but was also sure to utilise her speed, attempting to rebound out of defence, too. Goldrick gathered eight intercepts, 11 disposals—at 82%—and played 100% of game time.
- Meanwhile, Tyla Hanks continues to lead Melbourne’s midfield—a midfield boasting Karen Paxman and Lily Mithen. At just 20 years old, Hanks has relished the role she’s in, regularly showing her two-way running ability. Winning 19 disposals—including ten contested possessions—and four clearances, Hanks also laid six tackles and played on the significantly taller Ellie McKenzie all day. It’s because of players like Hanks that Melbourne hasn’t felt the loss of Elise O’Dea too keenly.
- The Demons’ scoring is again worth talking about, given they recorded their equal-second most accurate score in their history (78%) after last week’s club-best scoring accuracy (82%). In the past they’ve been known to drop games they should have won simply due to their inaccuracy at goal, which made this game loom as dangerous. For the second week in a row, however, they proved they could be reliable in front of goal. With this win, Melbourne also broke a 14 game streak of every two wins being followed by a loss.
North Melbourne v St. Kilda – Sunday @ Arden Street
North Melbourne 2.2.14 | 2.3.15 | 3.6.24 | 5.6.36
St. Kilda 0.1.1 | 1.4.10 | 1.4.10 | 1.4.10
North Melbourne: Daisy Bateman, Jasmine Garner, Ellie Gavalas, Tahlia Randall, Ashleigh Riddell
St. Kilda: Tyanna Smith
North Melbourne: N/A
St. Kilda: Bianca Jakobsson (corked back)
- Clean hands make for good footy, and really did prove to be the big difference in the first half of this game. The Saints found as much run and carry—and space through the corridor—as North Melbourne, but when it came to connecting their players running in waves, the Kangaroos were far cleaner. The positive for the Saints out of this is knowing they are on the cusp of beating great teams, they just need to minimise the panic and find those clean hands.
- St. Kilda took the game on in the first half and challenged North Melbourne in this way, but once they lost a little confidence—and Bianca Jakobsson was ruled out of the game during the second quarter—they did retreat back into the hyper-defensive side we saw last year. They minimised the damage North Melbourne was able to do on the scoreboard—the Roos kicked the fifth-highest score in the AFLW last week (71) and averaged 49 points a game in 2020—but at the expense of their own attack.
- Georgia Patrikios broke the Saints’ AFLW disposal record with 27, and was really involved early in the game to set the tone for her teammates. The way she moves through stoppages and positions herself around the contest is admirable. That being said, Patrikios could lift her game to another level by taking a split second longer before kicking the ball into attack. Far too often the midfielder would spectacularly break away from congestion, only to kick directly to a North Melbourne opponent. Once she finds that extra composure, Patrikios will move into that upper echelon of players.
- Last week we saw Emma King really expose Geelong’s tall players by winning hitouts in the ruck, then pushing forward and kicking goals. Rhiannon Watt studied King’s game and was stunningly able to minimise the Roo’s impact. After winning 30 hit outs and ten disposals while kicking three goals in round one, King was held to 13 hit outs, two disposals and no score. Meanwhile, Watt had 16 disposals, ten hit outs and two clearances. A big win for the St. Kilda co-captain.
- Another of St. Kilda’s co-captains had arguably the best game of her career. Kate Shierlaw attacked the game with more confidence than we’ve previously seen, crashing packs and if not taking the ball, bringing it to ground. Shierlaw registered a career-high eight marks—four contested—and 13 disposals. While she wasn’t able to register a goal, kicking two behinds, this is the kind of attack we could get used to from Shierlaw.
Brisbane v Gold Coast – Sunday @ Hickey Park
Brisbane 2.4.16 | 4.5.29 | 6.5.41 | 10.5.65
Gold Coast 0.0.0 | 0.0.0 | 0.1.1 | 0.2.2
Brisbane: Dakota Davidson (4), Jesse Wardlaw (4), Greta Bodey (2)
Gold Coast: N/A
Gold Coast: Annise Bradfield (knee)
- Two separate scoring records were broken in this game, one of which the Suns won’t be proud to hold. Brisbane kicked their highest score in AFLW with 10.5.65—their previous best of 10.4.64 coming in round seven of 2018. It was also just the second time the Lions kicked more than 60 points in their five seasons. At the other end of the ground, Gold Coast kicked the lowest score in the AFLW, becoming just the second side to be held goalless in the competition’s history.
- Saying Brisbane has a strong defence is like saying Erin Phillips is good at footy, but with the Suns able to go inside 50 just 15 times for the game, the last defensive group they wanted to combat was the Lions. Breanna Koenen and Kate Lutkins alone took ten marks and eleven intercepts. It was such hard work for Gold Coast to simply get the ball within their scoring range, let alone take shots at goal.
- Last week we saw Melbourne work through the Suns’ pressure and how much Gold Coast struggled once that situation was reversed. This week Brisbane utilised that pressure right from the first bounce and didn’t let up until the final siren. The Suns wanted to move the ball quickly, play on at every opportunity, but with Brisbane’s speed and pressure directive, the Suns needed to choose their moments more wisely. Too often were they caught out because they wanted to go quickly when that wasn’t the right option—and the Lions lapped that up.
- Sophie Conway is a player most would associate with Brisbane’s brand of footy and so know what to expect from her each game. What we often forget is that she’s just 21 years of age, and has already missed a year of footy with an ACL injury. The consummate two-way runner, Conway’s work rate is immense and her fitness level means she rarely uses the ball poorly out of exhaustion. With 14 disposals, five marks, five tackles—four of which were inside 50—and six rebound 50s, Conway worked methodically from contest to contest and no-one at the Suns could go with her.
- Eyebrows were raised when Jess Wuetschner was not selected for Brisbane for the second week running, but Craig Starcevich’s first-choice forward line was vindicated in this game. Dakota Davidson was impressive last week, seeming to have broadened her game. This week she backed it up beautifully, leading up to the ball carrier, taking four marks and kicking four goals. Jesse Wardlaw had a different lead-in to this game. With just two disposals in round one, Wardlaw bounced back to have a big say in this one. With six marks—all inside 50—and four goals, Wardlaw was unstoppable. What’s more important is that both Davidson and Wardlaw kicked straight, each kicking four goals from four shots.
GWS Giants v Adelaide – Sunday @ Blacktown International Sportspark
GWS Giants 1.0.6 | 1.1.7 | 1.1.7 | 2.3.15
Adelaide 3.1.19 | 5.2.32 | 5.4.34 | 9.8.62
GWS GIants: Alyce Parker, Haneen Zreika
Adelaide: Danielle Ponter (3), Anne Hatchard, Eloise Jones, Madison Newman, Erin Phillips, Chelsea Randall, Ashleigh Woodland
GWS Giants: N/A
Adelaide: Ailish Considine (head)
- The Giants midfield is strong, and knows how to consistently win clearances, but they don’t really make the most of them often enough. Alyce Parker led the Giants with seven clearances, and in the second half started to really break away from stoppages before disposing of the ball creating some late momentum, but there wasn’t enough outside support. Tarni Evans is important in this respect, but found herself in defence for much of this game. The Giants need agile runners like Haneen Zreika and Evans creating that ring of support around the contest, providing an outlet for players like Parker, Alicia Eva and Rebecca Beeson.
- For Adelaide, Ebony Marinoff did her thing yet again. Eight clearances from her 24 disposals contributed to a massive 500 metres gained and three inside 50s. She almost goes unnoticed for much of her work, but Marinoff’s contribution to the way Adelaide want to play their footy is immense.
- Despite being named in the 2020 All Australian squad, Elle Bennetts continues to somehow fly under the radar. In a defence that was under siege, Bennetts read the ball well, took three marks and got the ball into space. More obvious, however, was the calm way in which she moved when under pressure. Bennetts is the steadying hand the Giants need across that half back/wing.
- In their premiership year of 2019, the Crows were the highest scoring team the AFLW has seen. Last year that dropped right away, but this year they’re rivalling their 2019 numbers. Against the Giants they had a huge seven individual goal kickers after having six against the Eagles in round one. For comparison, they averaged 5.9 goal kickers in 2019. This is a key indicator that it is once again an up year for the Crows, and in a competition where teams are crying out for reliable forwards, Adelaide has them in droves.
- This forward efficiency extends to the way Adelaide are delivering the ball inside 50, and the number of players who are able to do so. Fifteen Crows propelled the ball inside 50 against the Giants—nine of which did so more than once—and it’s players who are regularly also hitting the scoreboard themselves. Adelaide’s attacking game is up there with the best in the competition’s history—so far this year, anyway.
Fremantle v West Coast – Sunday @ Fremantle Oval
Fremantle 0.3.3 | 1.6.12 | 2.8.20 | 2.11.23
West Coast 1.1.7 | 1.1.7 | 1.2.8 | 2.2.14
Fremantle: Kiara Bowers, Gemma Houghton
West Coast: Imahra Cameron, Mikayla Bowen
West Coast: Andrea Gilmore (hand), Niamh Kelly (finger), Parris Laurie (leg)
- This is possibly the last thing anyone expected when picturing the second Western Derby, but it wasn’t any less entertaining. Intense rain, no crowds, last minute scheduling, off the back of a five day lockdown in Perth and in the midst of bushfires, these two teams played as if none of these external pressures existed.
- Kiara Bowers was voted best on ground for the second derby running, leading her team from the front. Her contested, relentless style of play, combined with her elite endurance lent itself well to the conditions and allowed her to have the biggest say in this one. With 14 tackles, 22 disposals, seven clearances and a goal, Bowers was involved on both sides of play—as usual.
- For West Coast, Imahra Cameron showed great maturity at the contest. Stepping up in the absence of Dana Hooker, Cameron was a strong body around the ball. Her ten disposals and four tackles culminated in a goal early in the final quarter to put the Eagles within touching distance of the lead. With Hooker set to miss the remainder of the season, Imahra Cameron will need to maintain this level of intensity.
- Coming off an ACL tear, Stephanie Cain’s performance last week was particularly encouraging, but that became far more impressive this week given the conditions. Her confidence with her knee was obvious in the way she attacked this game as an outside midfielder. She adapted to the situation at hand faster than anyone else on the field, knowing that gaining ground was the first priority, and not trying to be too cute with her disposal. Behind Bowers, Cain had the second most metres gained on the field with 333, and gathered eight intercepts.
- Mikayla Bowen’s intelligence is clear on a dry day, but that was magnified with the slippery ball against the Dockers. Registering 18 disposals, it was more so when Bowen didn’t take possession that she shone. Similar to Cain, knowing that gaining ground in whatever means possible was most important led to Bowen’s quick thinking.