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The Round Up: AFLW Round Two 2022

With just six games played, there were still plenty of highlights in AFLW round two, including a stunning breakthrough win from the Suns in Melbourne.

Monique Conti starred for the Tigers again. Image: Rachel Bach (@bythewhiteline)
Monique Conti starred for the Tigers again. Image: Rachel Bach (@bythewhiteline)

Richmond v Melbourne — Friday @ Punt Road Oval

Richmond 2.1.13 | 2.1.13 | 4.1.25 | 6.2.38
Melbourne 1.0.6 | 6.3.39 | 7.6.48 | 8.6.54

Goals

Richmond: Katie Brennan (2), Tessa Lavey (2), Monique Conti, Sarah Dargan
Melbourne: Alyssa Bannan (2), Tayla Harris (2), Kate Hore (2), Karen Paxman, Daisy Pearce

Injuries

Richmond: N/A
Melbourne: N/A

A fast start from Richmond immediately had Melbourne on the back foot, as Tessa Lavey slotted the quickest opening goal in AFLW history just 20 seconds after the siren. Agility at stoppages gave the home side the upper hand as they moved the ball forward efficiently in the first quarter, dominating territory and picking off Melbourne’s attempts to exit the back half.

Tessa Lavey kicks her first AFLW goal. Image: Rachel Bach (@bythewhiteline)
Tessa Lavey kicks her first AFLW goal. Image: Rachel Bach (@bythewhiteline)

This was compounded by relentless pressure. Tackles and smothers forced poor ball use from the Demons, taking away their methodical game style that was on show last week. But Melbourne was able to break through for a goal before the quarter time siren thanks to a big contested mark from Tayla Harris.

Melbourne found its groove in the second quarter, establishing more control at the contest, and using quick hands to transition to the outside. This culminated in a five goal term, and essentially created enough of a barrier on the scoreboard for the eventual win. Since round one 2021, the Demons have dominated in second quarters kicking 28 goals to their opponents’ 12. The side is also 6-0 in round two since the competition began.

Alyssa Bannan evades Kate Dempsey's grasp as she runs toward goal. Image: Rachel Bach (@bythewhiteline)
Alyssa Bannan evades Kate Dempsey’s grasp as she runs toward goal. Image: Rachel Bach (@bythewhiteline)

The highlight of that second quarter was undoubtedly Alyssa Bannan’s first goal of the season. Playing up on the wing, Bannan got on the end of a handball from Lily Mithen on the open side of the ground and used the speed she is known for. Able to arch her back to avoid a tackle from Kate Dempsey, Bannan smoothly took a couple of bounces, settled herself and slotted a goal from 35 metres out. Goal of the year contender for sure.

Both sides relied on strong marking up forward in round one, with Richmond and Melbourne taking seven and eight marks respectively inside 50. A big mark and goal early in the game from Katie Brennan was an ominous start for the Tigers, but after that they struggled to continue that aerial dominance in attack. Meanwhile, Melbourne was able to take ten marks inside 50 for the game as Tayla Harris and Eden Zanker led the side with two each.

Collingwood v St. Kilda — Saturday @ Victoria Park

Collingwood 3.3.21 | 4.4.28 | 5.5.35 | 6.5.41
St. Kilda 0.0.0 | 0.1.1 | 0.2.2 | 2.2.14

Goals

Collingwood: Aishling Sheridan (2), Mikala Cann, Eloise Chaston, Aliesha Newman, Ebony O’Dea
St. Kilda: Molly McDonald, Kate Shierlaw

Injuries

Collingwood: Erica Fowler (concussion)
St. Kilda: N/A

For the first time in club history, Collingwood was missing Steph Chiocci, Chloe Molloy and Brianna Davey, but they were still the second most experienced side in the competition in round two. One of three vice captains Brittany Bonnici starred, winning 26 disposals, laying ten tackles and registering 498 metres gained. Her work rate came to the fore last season, and she has continued to let that be a highlight of her game. Starting on the inside of the contest and then transitioning expertly to the outside sees Bonnici regularly involved in passages of play multiple times as the Pies move the ball into attack.

Brittany Bonnici starred again in AFLW round two. Image: Rachel Bach (@bythewhiteline)
Brittany Bonnici starred again in AFLW round two. Image: Rachel Bach (@bythewhiteline)

Collingwood’s defence is often discussed as it stands so strong and has the ideal balance between shutting down opponents, and launching attack out of the back half. Stacey Livingstone stands as the key post in that backline, giving opposition forwards no relief. Livingstone has played 100% of game time in her past 22 matches—a feat unparalleled by anyone else in the competition. This is not only worth noting for her impressive endurance, but because her constant presence on the field doesn’t allow the opposition a chance to quickly find some space while she takes a breather off the ground.

Despite some really hard work and attack at the contest, some poor decision making and lack of composure really let St Kilda down. Succumbing to the Pies’ pressure right across the ground, the Saints were often seen desperately kicking directly to Collingwood players sitting behind the play, or choosing to turn into traffic and get caught with the ball rather than finding the space on the outside. 

While the Pies continue to be a dominant team in the competition, they are yet to pile on a really big score to put their opponent away. Instead, they focus heavily on limiting opposition scoring which is effective in keeping their percentage quite high. In such a short AFLW season, with the top two teams on the ladder winning a direct path to a preliminary final, percentage is vital. 

Geelong v Carlton — Saturday @ Kardinia Park

Geelong 0.2.2 | 1.3.9 | 1.5.11 | 2.5.17
Carlton 1.0.6 | 2.2.14 | 3.4.22 | 4.7.31

Goals

Geelong: Rachel Kearns, Phoebe McWilliams
Carlton: Georgia Gee, Courtney Jones, Elise O’Dea, Nicola Stevens

Injuries

Geelong: N/A
Carlton: N/A

In what was a last minute rescheduled match, Carlton seemed far more prepared for what their new opposition had to offer than what the Cats did. Starting in defence, the trio of Kerryn Harrington, Vaomua Laloifi and Gab Pound methodically switched the ball with ease, always working in tandem to get the ball to the open side of the ground. As a defensive group, they also used the ball beautifully. Harrington broke her own AFLW record for most disposals at 100% efficiency, with 23 disposals hitting the target, while both Pound and Laloifi went at over 88%.

There is certainly a bit to like about the Cats this year, but frustratingly their lack of awareness in-game let them down against the Blues. All night Carlton used the width of the ground, and had free players sitting alone on the open side of the ground. Geelong’s lack of awareness to go to those players and shut down that space meant the Blues could just move the ball into their forward half with ease, after which the Cats would clog up defence and create stoppages. That defensive recognition needed to happen higher up the field rather than wait to give up territory before shutting down Carlton’s ball movement.

In each of the three games between these two sides in their history, Maddy Prespakis has led all players for disposals, and Saturday evening was no different. Registering a career-high 29 disposals and 373 metres gained, she played more of an outside game than what we’re used to seeing from the star. Playing with real discipline, Prespakis knew when to sit outside the contest and provide an outlet for her teammates, meaning just nine of her possessions were contested—an unusual ratio for Prespakis.

The Prespakis sisters go head to head. Image: Megan Brewer
The Prespakis sisters go head to head. Image: Megan Brewer

This game cannot be discussed without also mentioning Prespakis coming up against sister Georgie for the first time. The electric game style of Georgie Prespakis that earned her a Rising Star nomination last week was back on show as she continued to use her athleticism and agility to gain ground and break free of congestion, only coming undone as she tackled Maddy in the second half and copped friendly fire to the face.

West Coast v Gold Coast — Sunday @ Whitten Oval

West Coast 0.0.0 | 2.0.12 | 2.2.14 | 5.3.33
Gold Coast 0.2.2 | 1.4.10 | 2.4.16 | 7.4.46

Goals

West Coast: Ashlee Atkins, Mikayla Bowen, Maddy Collier, Kellie Gibson, Aisling McCarthy
Gold Coast: Tara Bohanna (3), Kate Surman (2), Jacqui Dupuy, Sarah Perkins

Injuries

West Coast: N/A
Gold Coast: N/A

The Gold Coast Suns broke through for their first win in 672 days, against the opponent they last beat, thanks to a huge final quarter. Kicking two goals across the first three quarters, the Suns piled on five goals in the final term to get the win. 

In a forward line that seemed to lack enough tall marking targets, Tara Bohanna stepped up as defenders focused heavily on limiting Sarah Perkins in the air. The second gamer took two strong marks inside 50 for the game, and was also proactive at ground level, leading to her three goals. Perkins also played a strong leadership role in the forward half, conscious of her positioning on the goal line and willing to act as that foil for Bohanna. She might have only kicked the one goal off her own boot, but played a large part in a number of other scores.

Charlie Rowbottom stood up in her second game, dominating around the contest and also applying defensive pressure. Registering 17 disposals, five clearances and six inside 50s, her intent in moving the ball into an attacking position was clear, but Rowbottom also applied a game-high 12 tackles to slow any movement from the Eagles. It’s her combination of skill, and endeavour that makes Rowbottom such an exciting addition for the Suns, and the competition as a whole.

In her first year of 2020, Kate Surman won everyone over with her personality, and energy around forward stoppages. Last year she found it harder to impact games, being asked to play higher up the ground to support the midfield group, but now Surman is back playing across the half forward line, that spark is back. Hitting the ground ball at speed, she reads the ball beautifully off the pack and has an innate goal sense. Looking dangerous all day, Surman finally broke through to kick two goals in the final quarter.

For the Eagles, there’s a sense of disappointment around this one. They had the game in their hands early in the final quarter but simply couldn’t stop the momentum of their opponents. West Coast still seems to lack a clear plan of attack, unable to decide whether they want to clear out the forward line and run it forward, or hit up stay-at-home forwards, and their decision to deliver the ball straight down the line and not take chances to use the width of the field allows defences to easily setup and rebound.

Adelaide v North Melbourne — Sunday @ Norwood Oval

Adelaide 1.1.7 | 3.3.21 | 4.4.28 | 5.7.37
North Melbourne 0.2.2 | 1.3.9 | 2.5.17 | 3.6.24

Goals

Adelaide: Ashleigh Woodland (4), Stevie-Lee Thompson
North Melbourne: Sophie Abbatangelo, Jasmine Garner, Ellie Gavalas

Injuries

Adelaide: Caitlin Gould (concussion), Chelsea Randall (hamstring)
North Melbourne: N/A

For the first time in AFLW history, a player has kicked back-to-back four goal hauls. Ashleigh Woodland already leads the competition’s goalkicking tally with eight goals, the most of any player after the first two rounds of a season.

Anne Hatchard starred for the Crows again, breaking the competition’s record for most marks in a game with 14. She also won 29 disposals, eight intercepts and registered 478 metres gained in a superior display of fitness. Hatchard covered the ground with ease, and was able to get into dangerous positions both defensively and offensively.

Finding space wasn’t just something Hatchard was doing, however, as every Crow ran hard to make use of the full field available to them. The midfield transitioned into the forward half really effectively because of this, and the Kangaroos lost their opponent too often when needing to assist in defence.

Emma Kearney returned to the field after missing her first ever game last week, and played a key rebounding role at half back. Gathering 23 touches, four intercepts and seven rebounds, the captain helped to cover the loss of Sarah Wright and Danielle Hardiman to the competition’s health and safety protocols for the match.

For the second week in a row, Montana McKinnon played a vital role for the Crows. Starting in defence, continuing to read the ball brilliantly and come across to support teammates in the air, she spent more time in the ruck than initially planned as Caitlin Gould went down with a head knock in the second half. Her game awareness and early reading of play means her positioning around the ground is invaluable.

Related—The Round Up: AFL Round One 2022

Fremantle v GWS Giants — Sunday @ Whitten Oval

Fremantle 2.0.12 | 6.4.40 | 6.8.44 | 7.10.52
GWS Giants 2.3.15 | 2.3.15 | 2.6.18 | 2.8.20

Goals

Fremantle: Gemma Houghton (2), Ebony Antonio, Kiara Bowers, Dana East, Ann McMahon, Hayley Miller
GWS Giants: Cora Staunton (2)

Injuries

Fremantle: N/A
GWS Giants: Rebecca Beeson (ankle)

In their first match at their home away from home, Fremantle was bolstered again by a host of fresh faces right across the field. Taken at no.31 in the draft, Dana East is being affectionately called “Baby Turbo” by Dockers fans, and it makes some sense. East’s slick hands around the contest release teammates on the outside so effectively, while the defensive side of her game is well established, laying eight tackles against the Giants. In two games she has established herself as an integral part of the Fremantle midfield.

An early ankle injury to Rebecca Beeson was a dagger to the Giants, who were already without important recruit Chloe Dalton for the match. This year Beeson was tasked with more of an outside role, with Alyce Parker and Alicia Eva taking charge on the inside. Without both Dalton and Beeson, the Giants struggled to maintain the structures needed to efficiently move the ball into attack and, in turn, failed to kick a goal after quarter time.

In round one the Giants found goals through four different players—equalling the most individual goalkickers they recorded in any game last year—and it seemed like they had found a better spread in attack. Unfortunately, against the Dockers they reverted back to relying heavily on Cora Staunton to kick the bulk of their score. Staunton kicked two early goals, but once Fremantle suffocated her supply, the Giants simply didn’t look dangerous up forward.

As captain, Hayley Miller has gone to a new level. Kicking another goal after her two last week, Miller was putting her body on the line right across the ground. She registered 19 disposals, six inside 50s and seven score involvements as she led her team to victory.

And the highlight of the match for a number of reasons was Ann McMahon’s first goal. Her journey to the AFLW has been well documented, experiencing serious injuries to both legs while at work not long after being signed to the Dockers, McMahon has worked incredibly hard for two years to make it back to footy. While the goal was the icing on the cake, McMahon’s intelligence around the contest, and unbelievably clean hands at ground level has added plenty to Fremantle’s ability to create opportunities out of nothing.

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