AFLW round three has made the run for finals a whole lot tighter and also thrown up an expansion team’s first win and the first draw of 2020. We saw standout performances from Jaimee Lambert, Kalinda Howarth, Georgia Gee and Danielle Ponter, and a monster game winner from Caitlin Greiser.
St Kilda v Melbourne @ RSEA Park
St Kilda 1.0.6 | 2.0.12 | 2.0.12 | 3.1.19
Melbourne 1.4.10 | 1.5.11 | 1.8.14 | 1.8.14
St Kilda: Greiser (2), Guttridge
St Kilda: N/A
Melbourne: Maddie Guerin (knee), Sinead Goldrick (concussion)
- An historic win for the Saints, fittingly at home. Their skill has been mentioned week on week, but that was a huge factor in this win for them. Their ball use around the ground was far superior to that of Melbourne. The particularly impressive aspect of their game was the way they found space and then, once in that space, moved the ball forward with speed.
- Melbourne flagged after their round one win that they needed to improve their attack at the contest and pressure, which was a huge factor in their round two win. The pressure dropped off again this week and the Saints took full advantage. St Kilda were so clean below their knees and the Dees weren’t forcing those errors from the opposition like they did the week before and in turn, the Saints were able to force those poor choices out of Melbourne.
- That ongoing problem for the Dees: accuracy. They created nine opportunities at goal, and converted just one. The Saints on the other hand had less than half the opportunities and converted three goals. It’s a problem Melbourne’s forwards need to address quicksmart, and being in the tighter Conference B, if they don’t make finals, they’ll be looking back at their first three scorelines (3.4, 4.8, 1.8) and rueing missed chances. Shelley Scott has been Melbourne’s most dangerous forward this year, and is in the best form of her career, but questions must be raised over the form of Tegan Cunningham. Round one saw her gather six touches and kick a behind, but across the next two games she’s had just five touches and one behind combined. Looking toward next week, their game at Marvel Stadium looks to be a real finals shaper. Cunningham has good memories of her performance at the same ground last year, so there’s no better chance to get her season back on track.
- Caitlin Greiser really drew attention with her impressive two goal performance in Adelaide last week, and it absolutely hasn’t fazed her as she backed it up with another two goals this week. Greiser didn’t just kick two goals though, she kicked the huge match winner from a tight angle at least 45m out. The pressure was on and she cooly went back and slotted it. The Saints’ young group just gets more impressive each week.
- The Dees’ injuries are starting to really mount up. They found themselves two down on the bench quite early in the game and that was evident late in the final quarter as they tried to surge the ball forward but the Saints were up to any challenge. Lily Mithen, Lauren Pearce and Jacqueline Parry can’t become available soon enough.
Western Bulldogs v Carlton @ Whitten Oval
Western Bulldogs 1.0.6 | 2.3.15 | 2.3.15 | 4.6.30
Carlton 3.1.19 | 3.1.19 | 5.3.33 | 8.3.51
Western Bulldogs: Georgostathis, Lamb, McLeod, Toogood
Carlton: Gee (3), Brazzale, Harris, McEvoy, Stevens, Vescio
Western Bulldogs: Angelica Gogos (lower leg), Aisling McCarthy (nose)
- The traditional AFLW Pride Match—featuring a joint banner and march to the ground—always does result in a talking point from the on field action. Brooke Lochland’s famous seven goal haul, that Tayla Harris photo and this year it was the high level of skill and quality of ball movement on display. The push and pull of momentum, particularly in the first half, created plenty of tension in this Conference B match up.
- With the attention and pressure on her yet again, Tayla Harris well and truly stepped up to the task. Gathering 13 touches, four marks, some strong ground ball work to create scoring opportunities for teammates, and a goal of her own. Alongside her was another player who has faced intense scrutiny this year, Darcy Vescio. Vescio’s gut running all game was impressive, often popping up at crucial times in defence, pressuring through the midfield and proving a dangerous target up forward. She’s having the best season of her career, just in a different role. Don’t write off these high profile Blues.
- Georgia Gee really announced herself as one of the big improvers this year in round one, and she absolutely stamped her presence in this game. Her agility around the stoppages is one thing, but the ability to quickly push forward to give Carlton an outlet at the goal face is incredible, and resulted in her three goals against the Dogs. She’s on track to be a surprise All Australian squad inclusion the way she is going and it would certainly be a deserved accolade.
- Carlton forced poor ball use from the Dogs, who barely looked like the team that swiftly kicked four first quarter goals against St Kilda in round one. The Dogs went at 54% disposal efficiency around the ground, and while they had more shots on goal, almost every one was under immense pressure. Bonnie Toogood exemplified the struggles of the team. The usually accurate Toogood had a number of flying shots at goal throughout the game, but wasn’t able to convert after her goal in the first quarter.
- Kirsten McLeod certainly provided two of the game’s highlights within the space of about a minute. Early in the final quarter the Dogs were threatening to win momentum when McLeod gathered a loose ball on the wing and took off. With Laloifi chasing, McLeod made it right down into the forward pocket in no time and almost kicked a miracle goal. It was just seconds later that she was in the opposite pocket winning the ball back from Carlton as they tried to repel out and kicked a stunning goal to get the Dogs right back in the game.
Gold Coast v Brisbane @ Metricon Stadium
Gold Coast 0.0.0 | 2.0.12 | 3.1.19 | 4.4.28
Brisbane 2.0.12 | 4.3.27 | 4.4.28 | 4.4.28
Gold Coast: Howarth (3), Perry
Brisbane: Lugg (2), Conway, Wardlaw
Gold Coast: Kaslar (head)
Brisbane: Conway (head)
- Kate Lutkins will be All Australian again this year, and this game is the ultimate example why. She took 12 marks, had 12 intercept possessions and 21 disposals, but it’s not just her stats that were impressive. Lutkins’ ability to read the ball and get into the right spots long before anyone else is something to behold, and the way she positions her body to ensure she’s between opposition and ball is vision that should be used to teach young kids how to defend. Rightly, Lutkins won the QClash medal for best on ground performance and there aren’t too many envious of the Giants’ forwards who have to face her next week.
- It was somewhat fitting that the first AFLW QClash ended in a draw, despite the hollow feeling a draw engenders. In the first quarter it looked a little worrying for the Suns, but once they started to settle into the game they really did get some control on the contest. The aggression at the stoppages—from both sides—was brilliant, with no player crossing the line, but not letting up either. Both teams were able to showcase the even spread they hold across all lines.
- The Suns really struggled to get the ball out of their back half early in the game. Brisbane enjoyed repeat entries while the Suns’ last line constantly attempted to rebound but handed the ball straight back to the perfectly structured Lions. Once they were able to possess the ball a little in their back half and make more considered pushes forward, they were really able to get a handle on the game and even force those errors out of defence for the Lions. Gold Coast looks like a brilliant running team when they’re able to find some space on the wings and no doubt they’ll be looking to play with that freedom for the rest of the season.
- Kalinda Howarth has been buzzing around Gold Coast’s forward line this season without quite hitting the scoreboard, until this week. Six minutes into the second quarter Howarth stood strong in the forward 50 and kicked truly for her first goal in AFLW, and the Suns’ first of the day. Just two minutes later in a forward contest, Howarth extracted the ball and kicked around her body from 35 for her second. With those two goals, Gold Coast were really back in the game. In the final quarter, despite controlling the match and strangling Brisbane’s forward output, the Suns were trailing. Howarth popped up again with just minutes remaining to square up the game and, as it was, cause the draw.
- Gold Coast’s key defensive posts really came to the fore throughout this match, becoming stronger as time went on. The stories about Jade Pregelj have been told—ten years ago she was arguably the best women’s footy player in Queensland but stepped away for a number of years—but she’s certainly not lost any of her footy nous or skill in her time away. Pregelj’s match up on Jesse Tawhaio-Wardlaw was fascinating to watch, especially early in the game. The Sun made Wardlaw accountable and kept her to just one early goal after booting three last week. Alongside Pregelj was Lauren Ahrens who effectively acted as a goalkeeper for most of the day. Her last ditch efforts to lock the ball down when under immense pressure kept Gold Coast in touch, and she really showed a lot of leadership in defence.
Fremantle v Collingwood @ Fremantle Oval
Fremantle 3.0.18 | 3.0.18 | 5.2.32 | 5.3.33
Collingwood 1.1.7 | 3.5.23 | 4.5.29 | 4.6.30
Fremantle: E. Antonio, Flood, O’Sullivan, Roux, Sharp
Collingwood: Lambert, Layton, Membrey, Sheridan
- Collingwood looked to control large parts of the game, including the duration of the second quarter, but—like some other teams this weekend—did not make the most of their opportunities to really hurt Fremantle. With six shots on goal in that second quarter for a two goal return, they made the second half that much more difficult for themselves and in the end it hurt them.
- The consistency in the Dockers’ full team performance continued this week, with their spread of ball winners and goal kickers very, very even. They had five goals from five different players, and once again their leading disposal winner—Hayley Miller—had just 13 touches. In comparison to Collingwood who had seven players gather 13 or more disposals, Fremantle are proving far more efficient with their ball use, and spread the load across all 21 players. If they can continue this style of play, they’ll just become more damaging as the season goes on. They’re like a game of Whack-A-Mole, if one player is down on form, there are a handful of others that can step up in that position.
- Early on it looked like Mim Strom was going to be ragdolled all day by Sharni Layton, who started the game really dominant. Layton’s aggression in the air is one thing, but it’s her follow up at ground level that keeps getting better each week. Strom was able to even up the contest a little as play went on, but this one is another feather in Layton’s cap as one of the most improved players in 2020.
- The synergy across Collingwood’s midfield is no doubt the envy of most of the competition, but it’s not something that’s come along by chance. Lambert, Davey, Molloy, Bonnici and Layton played much of the 2019 VFLW season together, and that time has allowed them to improve their chemistry to hit the AFLW season hard. Their connection as a group is so damaging, and that was evident in their domination of the clearances, winning 25 to Fremantle’s 19. Layton also won the hitouts with 26 to her name, beating Fremantle who registered 21 as a team. In the end, their consistency up forward is proving to be their weakness with their reliance on midfielders to kick their goals as well. Forwards like Membrey and D’Arcy have shown vast improvement this year, but we’re yet to see the consistency from them that would make Collingwood unstoppable.
- Fremantle have won over so many AFLW fans with their absolute toughness at the contest, laying tackles and bumps harder than anyone. The difference between them and some other teams, however, is their ability to see the line while never going over it. That’s what makes them the real deal. There’s no need for posturing or unsportspersonlike tactics and it’s no doubt their culture driving it, and it’s the reason they’re such a joy to watch. They’re the form team of the competition in more ways than one.
GWS Giants v West Coast @ Blacktown International Sportspark
GWS Giants 1.1.7 | 3.2.20 | 5.4.34 | 6.6.42
West Coast 0.0.0 | 0.0.0 | 0.0.0 | 2.2.14
GWS Giants: Privitelli (3), Barclay, Staunton, Zreika
West Coast: Bowen, Cameron
GWS Giants: N/A
West Coast: Dana Hooker (throat)
- After a strong performance in the air in round one, there have been plenty of fans hanging out to see what Rebecca Privitelli could do on a dry day, and against the Eagles she certainly didn’t disappoint. Shaking off some early nerves which caused a relatively simple set show to slide through for a behind, Privitelli spent the day crashing packs, taking four big contested marks and kicking three goals. Privitelli is one of many AFLW players this year getting another shot after being delisted by clubs, and she’s really worked hard on her craft—particularly overhead—for another shot, and it’s paying off.
- Welcome back Jacinda Barclay. The tough forward broke out in 2018 and looked like she could become a dominant forward of the competition, but inconsistencies in her performance last year meant she wasn’t quite able to live up to the hype. After battling an ankle injury that kept her out of the first two rounds, Barclay came back with a bang against West Coast. She exerted herself physically on the contest and caused a number of turnovers early that resulted in forward presses, and in particular Cora Staunton’s first quarter goal. Barclay then bagged a goal of her own and really swung the momentum the Giants’ way in the process. After kicking just the two goals last year, Alan McConnell should be expecting a much higher output from her this year if she can continue this form.
- There has, rightly, been plenty of talk about Dana Hooker and Emma Swanson at the Eagles, but it’s another midfielder that has really been impressing early in the season. Imahra Cameron is a key part of West Coast’s ball winning brigade and with her 17 touches worked hard to surge the ball forward. Cameron runs as hard as anyone and is often found bobbing up in the forward line to create a contest after being a key part of the play up field. Her positive attitude and love for the club was evident after kicking a late consolation goal and she’s surely considered an important on field leader for the Eagles.
- West Coast’s lack of key forwards is becoming more and more evident as each week passes. Rarely do they find clean possession up forward, and when their midfielders do get a clean break there are so few options to kick to. Danika Pisconeri was almost that player in the first two rounds, but upon her omission this week there were simply no leading targets. This is a problem the Eagles need to fix quicksmart, but there doesn’t seem to be an obvious solution.
- Last week The Roundup flagged a disappointment in West Coast’s lack of pressure, even when they were soundly beaten for disposals. In a small positive for the Eagles, while they didn’t win the disposal count, they did increase their pressure to lay 60 tackles for the game. This was a marked increase from their 49 in round two, and evidence of their focus on basics.
Richmond v North Melbourne @ Ikon Park
Richmond 0.3.3 | 0.4.4 | 2.5.17 | 2.8.20
North Melbourne 2.0.12 | 7.2.44 | 9.3.57 | 12.4.76
Richmond: Brennan, Frederick
North Melbourne: Ashmore (3), Kearney (3), Bateman (2), Green (2), Garner, Gillespie-Jones
Richmond: Akec Makur Chuot (shoulder)
North Melbourne: N/A
- Richmond’s defenders have been under the pump since the first minutes of round one, and it’s not really let up since. Granted, as an expansion team they’re still finding their feet and connection, but their lack of defensive run higher up the ground is making life incredibly tough for their back group. Across the half forward line the Tigers were slow to react when they lost possession and they were consistently outnumbered at contests in their forward half. Richmond’s defenders would be forgiven for feeling a little left out to dry by their teammates up the field.
- Sabrina Frederick might only be averaging seven disposals a game (literally, she’s gathered seven touches in each of the first three rounds), but she certainly makes them count. Early in the third quarter Richmond created a stoppage in their goal square, and Frederick’s eyes lit up. Raising her hand to indicate her ruck nomination, the Tiger conceded goal side position, bodied into the contest, took the ball straight out of the ruck and kicked backwards over her head for the Tigers’ first goal of the game. There wasn’t a smarter goal all day and it exemplified the experience the star brings to a very young side.
- North Melbourne has the most skilled list in the competition. The way they’re able to pick off targets across the ground is impressive, and it’s that efficiency by foot that allows them to hit the corridor and get the ball inside 50 quickly. It’s not just their field kicking that’s impressive, however, their efficiency in front of goal is the best in the AFLW and in such a short season where every chance matters, the Roos are taking them.
- Kate Gillespie-Jones’ move forward has been outstanding, and an inspired move by Scott Gowans. She’s deceptively fast for a bigger-bodied player, and has now hit the scoreboard in consecutive games. Not only this, she laid eight tackles to further pressure the Tigers, retaining the ball inside the Roos’ forward 50 and creating repeat chances on goal.
- Questions will be raised over Emma King’s fitness after her slow start to the season. Last year the ruck/forward was averaging almost seven touches, 18 hit outs and more than a goal a game, but across the first three rounds of 2020 she’s barely averaged five touches and 10 hit outs, and just kicked the one goal. The team’s ability to be so damaging despite the limited impact of King is a positive, but come finals the Roos will need everyone contributing, so don’t be surprised if she misses in the coming weeks.
Geelong v Adelaide @ GMHBA Stadium
Geelong 2.0.12 | 3.0.18 | 5.2.32 | 6.2.38
Adelaide 3.0.18 | 5.0.30 | 6.1.37 | 8.1.49
Geelong: Higgins (2), Boyd, Cranston, McWilliams, Purcell
Adelaide: Ponter (4), Biddell (2), Gore, Jones
- The free-flowing, outside game on display on Sunday was one of the best of the year, and according to Geelong coach Paul Hood, the Cats’ best in their short history. A far cry from the one-sided preliminary final between these two teams last year. Geelong’s midfield group of Purcell, Crockett-Grills and Morrison has really come a long way and look like they could be a dominant trio for years to come. But there were players right across the field who really stood up and proved why they’re on an AFLW list. Jordan Ivey’s mature decision making, Mel Hickey’s strength and smarts in the one-on-one, Maddie Keryk’s rebound out of defence, Phoebe McWilliams’ impact when pushing up the field, it’s hard to be disappointed by this performance.
- Throughout the first two rounds of 2020 Geelong spent large periods of time seemingly trapped in their defensive 50, and despite conceding 32 inside 50s they didn’t seem nearly as overwhelmed this week. The obvious factor here being Meg McDonald’s return. She gathered 14 touches and laid four tackles in her efforts to shut down Adelaide’s forward movement, and most importantly had 11 kicks to clear the area.
- In her first year in the competition Danielle Ponter kicked a massive 13 goals for Adelaide and was creating plenty of headaches for opposition defenders, but so far this year she had struggled to be the same potent forward. This week, however, Ponter really spearheaded the Crows’ forward line kicking four goals of her own and creating opportunities for her teammates to get into the game. This is a forward line with Chloe Scheer and Erin Phillips yet to return, too.
- Ebony Marinoff has been a star of the competition for three years, but in seasons 2019 and 2020 more attention has landed on her much improved teammate Anne Hatchard. Not this week. Marinoff was close to best on ground with her 25 touches and 12 tackles, but more critically she was able to clear the congestion with her 16 kicks. On the reverse, Hatchard played a true inside game with 19 of her 23 disposals handballs. This performance was a signal to the competition that—much like Fremantle—this is not a one-note midfield and it takes a lot to shut down.
- The whole of round three was certainly punctuated by some questionable umpiring decisions, but no game more so than this one. There were some odd choices throughout the game, but fans really started asking questions early in the second quarter when Nikki Gore ran onto a loose ball in the Crows’ forward 50, defender Goring laid a fantastic tackle to shut her down but was bafflingly penalised for high contact, which effectively gifted the Crows a goal. Then, in the final quarter when the game was on the line Eloise Jones attempted to kick the Crows forward from the centre square, but tough Cat Renee Garing smothered the kick yet it was confusingly paid as a trip, and the ball was handed back to Jones. Cats fans were irate, but in the dying minutes with Geelong down by five points, the Crows kicked forward and defender Maddy McMahon sprinted back to avoid conceding a goal. In the process of chasing it down, she gathered the ball and her momentum carried her over the goal line. This effort was deemed deliberate by the controlling umpire and Adelaide was handed the sealer. Everyone can accept that umpiring is a tough job, but it wasn’t the way this game deserved to end, and marred an otherwise brilliant contest.