AFLW round two was a tumultuous round of footy, with comebacks, surprises, an expansion team’s first win. There were also some outstanding individual performances. The conferences once again look terribly lopsided, creating stress for those unfortunate enough to be in Conference B, which makes percentage crucial and losses hurt that little bit more.
Western Bulldogs v Melbourne @ Whitten Oval
Western Bulldogs 1.0.6 | 1.0.6 | 1.0.6 | 2.0.12
Melbourne 2.3.15 | 2.6.18 | 4.8.32 | 4.8.32
Western Bulldogs: Berry, Toogood
Melbourne: Emonson, Gay, Paxman, Sherriff
Western Bulldogs: N/A
Melbourne: Ainslie Kemp (knee)
- This was a tough game to tip. While both teams were coming off strong round one wins they were in very different circumstances. The Dees had a gritty, close win against the preseason premiership favourites North, while the Dogs got the early jump on (talented) expansion side St Kilda and then ground out the remainder of the game. This was evident in the way the teams hit the contest early on. Melbourne was hard at the ball and pressure was clearly their intent, while the Dogs took a little longer to get going and found themselves second to the ball far too often. This was obvious in the final contested possession count of 96 to105, Melbourne’s way.
- As is common with AFLW, the weather had an impact on the game. The Dees’ early lead put them in good stead once the rain started falling and it became more of a contested game. The better part of Melbourne’s game was their unwillingness to take the foot off the pedal despite the inclement weather. They were able to take five marks inside 50 to the Dogs’ zero, led by Kate Hore and Shelley Scott who really stood up—the latter having one of the best games of her career with six marks and 16 disposals. The only downside was her inaccuracy in front of goal, netting just two behinds.
- Sinead Goldrick seems to have got her touch for footy after round one as she was brilliant (almost) all night. The only blemish came in the first quarter when she gave away a free kick to Deanna Berry at the top of the 50 and tried to return the ball to the umpire rather than Berry, resulting in a 50m penalty. That resulted in the Dogs’ first goal of the game—a goal that they otherwise didn’t look likely to kick. It wasn’t just Goldrick’s speed that impressed, it was her positioning, it was her corralling, it was her endurance and most importantly it was that she never dropped her head when she was caught out or didn’t quite execute perfectly. Goldrick is a player that will continue to grow this season and Melbourne fans just need to sit back and enjoy watching the number 23.
- Unsurprisingly, Libby Birch was well and truly targeted by her ex-teammates, getting pummelled at every opportunity. While Birch came away with the win, the Dogs certainly minimised the impact she was able to have with the ball, swarming her whenever she got close to the play. Birch is key to Melbourne’s structure behind the ball and was a great goalkeeper, but it was tough for her to get any clean disposal away all game.
- Aisling McCarthy was undoubtedly the Dogs’ best with 15 disposals, eight tackles and plenty of other things that didn’t necessarily result in a statistic. When the rain started falling, McCarthy was the first to switch to that surge mentality of getting the ball forward by any means possible, and displayed genuine gut running getting involved multiple times in chains of possession.
North Melbourne v GWS Giants @ UTAS Stadium
North Melbourne 1.0.6 | 3.0.18 | 5.1.31 | 6.1.37
GWS Giants 1.0.6 | 1.3.9 | 1.4.10 | 2.7.18
North Melbourne: Garner (2), Abbatangelo, Gillespie-Jones, Emma King, Elisha King
GWS Giants: Tully, Zreika
North Melbourne: Ashmore (head knock)
GWS Giants: N/A
- There’s an issue at the Giants, but talent isn’t it. They’ve got a stacked midfield—to the point that Jess Dal Pos, a starting mid in any other team, is being played behind the ball. The issue is team connection. The Giants have the disadvantage of having players from right across the country, which means in the off-season more than half of their players head home to play in their respective state leagues. Most other teams enjoy large factions of their playing group playing together through the winter, improving their chemistry. Without this the Giants continue to be that little bit off the pace.
- Before Alyce Parker can be considered in the upper echelon of AFLW midfielders alongside players like Paxman, Prespakis, Hatchard and Kearney, her disposal and decision making needs work. She has no trouble finding the ball and is a fantastic young player, but too often she immediately just throws it on the boot with no clear intention. A strong player, Parker could become far more effective if she were to break away from more stoppages before disposing of the ball.
- Jasmine Garner as a midfielder continues to pay dividends, not just in the middle but up forward as well, kicking two goals from her 20 touches and five tackles. Her athleticism and size makes her a really tough match up at stoppages, and then her agility and quick thinking up forward is so hard to stop.
- Inaccuracy is a killer in AFLW—thanks to the short games, short season and conference system—so the Giants are no doubt rueing their 2.7 scoreline. They created more scoring opportunities than the Kangaroos, but were just messy up forward resulting in their 19 point loss.
- North Melbourne’s ball use around the ground was far superior all day, which allowed them to build up better passages of play, resulting in more considered forward entries, far more often. This went a long way to their 6.1 score and, in turn, their significant win.
Gold Coast v Richmond @ Metricon Stadium
Gold Coast 2.2.14 | 4.3.27 | 5.3.33 | 5.3.33
Richmond 2.2.14 | 2.4.16 | 2.5.17 | 2.10.22
Gold Coast: Surman (2), Perry, Stanton, Yorston
Richmond: Bernardi, Stahl
Gold Coast: Jamie Stanton (shoulder)
- Heading into this game, the footy world knew more about how Richmond were going to play than the Suns, so there was a bit of uncertainty about what kind of footy Gold Coast wanted to play. In round one observers would be forgiven for thinking the Suns’ tackling game—where they laid 80—was largely due to the wet conditions. What became immediately evident, however, was that Gold Coast is a tackling machine and pressure is their go-to. Led in the middle by ex-Lion (and notorious tackler) Jacqui Yorston, and mature-aged recruit Hannah Dunn, the expansion side forced plenty of errors in Richmond’s game.
- Jamie Stanton has been involved in the historic first seasons of three separate teams—Brisbane in 2017, North Melbourne in 2019 and now the Suns in 2020—and there’s a reason why she’s been in such high demand. Not only is she a great ball winner, she runs hard both ways and leads by example. Not long after kicking the opening goal of the game, Stanton was crunched and left the field cradling her shoulder. She returned to the field with strapping—becoming a target of some Richmond mids including captain Katie Brennan—but remained as prolific as ever, netting 20 touches for the match, a team high.
- Richmond’s decision making—while impacted by Gold Coast’s pressure—was woeful at times, often plucking out the sole 2v1 option up forward resulting in the ball immediately rebounding back out. This will no doubt improve as the team plays more footy together, but all the skill in the world can’t make up for poor choices on the field and should be the number one concern for those in the yellow and black.
- The rise of Kate Surman as not only a cult figure in footy, but a talented pressure forward really came to the fore this week. After her 12 disposal, six tackle, two goal game, Surman gave the post match interview to end all post match interviews. Taking the microphone and clearly just overjoyed at the win, the Suns’ number 26 certainly won over plenty of fans.
- Phoebe Monahan’s hard work in defence did not go unnoticed. A rock down back, she gathered the ball 21 times while absorbing the pressure thrown her way and was key to the momentum swings toward Richmond late in the first and final quarters.
West Coast v Fremantle @ Optus Stadium
West Coast 0.0.0 | 1.1.7 | 1.2.8 | 2.3.15
Fremantle 2.2.14 | 5.3.33 | 7.6.48 | 9.6.60
West Coast: Dowrick, Tester
Fremantle: Grieve (2), Roux (2), Stewart (2), Duffy, Houghton, O’Sullivan
West Coast: Dana Hooker (head knock), Emma Swanson (head knock)
- A crowd of 35,185 people bought tickets to witness the first ever AFLW western derby live, backing up the 41,975 tickets sold for the 2018 clash between Fremantle and Collingwood at the same ground. Time and again fans in WA have turned up in droves to support their AFLW teams in their infancy. If this isn’t yet another signal to the powers that be that ticketed games is a crucial next step, then we’re not sure what is.
- As expected, this one opened as a tough, contest-heavy game. With eight Fremantle players crossing over to West Coast in the off-season, and someone by the name of Kiara Bowers lining up for the Dockers, plenty of bodies were on the line. By quarter time Bowers had laid 11 tackles and was on track to destroy the AFLW record of 21 (held by Adelaide’s Ebony Marinoff), but once the game opened up a little more Bowers’ tackle rate slowed and her final tally landed at 18. The more surprising performance, however, was that of Katie-Jayne Grieve. In her eight games prior, Grieve averaged 3.5 tackles a game but notched up 11 against the Eagles to go along with her two goals—certainly a coming of age game for the Docker.
- The Eagles’ midfield battled hard all night and actually won the clearances 26-19 but just couldn’t retain control once the ball got on the outside. It was basic skill errors and some poor choices resulting in turnovers that really hurt West Coast, because Fremantle are not only clean with the ball, they go quickly to catch unprepared defences off guard.
- For the Dockers, they’re built on their team wide performances of 2019, with another true full team performance. Up forward they had six individual goal kickers—three of which scored more than one—and in the middle their leading ball winner was Bowers with just 13.
- Most coaches would say that if their team doesn’t have the ball, they should be working hard to win it back through pressure and (that word again) tackling. A worrying sign for West Coast is that they were out gunned in terms of both disposals (155-159) and tackles (49-78). They might be an expansion team, but pressure and tackling is a basic skill they need to get right (see Gold Coast).
Geelong v Brisbane @ GMHBA Stadium
Geelong 2.1.13 | 3.1.19 | 3.1.19 | 3.2.20
Brisbane 1.0.6 | 1.2.8 | 4.3.27 | 6.3.39
Geelong: Purcell (2), Higgins
Brisbane: Tawhiao-Wardlaw (3), Conway, Davidson, Bodey
Geelong: Denby Taylor (ankle)
- It was the early jump on Adelaide last week that surprised many, and proved important in the context of the game, so it was a little concerning for Brisbane when Geelong got out to an early lead. Impressively, the Lions were able to claw back the momentum to really take control of the game in the second half. With such a young, new list it’s incredible to see that Brisbane isn’t hamstrung if they give up the early lead, instead they have the grit to fight back. And all without Jess Wuetschner.
- Olivia Purcell was certainly underrated last year, but the 19-year-old has leapt to a whole new level this year. Her versatility and skill is the envy of the competition. She’s strong on the inside, quick and clean on the outside and hits the scoreboard when she goes forward. Purcell’s outstanding early season output has another benefit too. With the attention on Purcell, Nina Morrison has had some space upon her return, letting her find her way back in footy after that knee injury without the weight of expectation on her shoulders.
- Heading into the season there were questions about Brisbane’s ability to score, but after two rounds that has well and truly been quashed. Last week the Lions proved they could goal even if Wuetschner wasn’t the one kicking them, the big caveat being that the star had a hand in almost every Brisbane score. This week was a very different story. With no Wuetschner their young forwards were on their own. While it took a couple of quarters to really get going, Tawhiao-Wardlaw, Davidson, Conway and Bodey really gelled and had incredible composure.
- As we’ve seen in previous seasons, and across many games already in 2020, the skill increase on display during matches at proper stadiums with grandstands protecting the field from the elements is exponential. Both teams went at more than 60% disposal efficiency around the ground and collectively went at 64% in front of goal.
- Like last week, Geelong are playing games in their back half—likely with the intention to sling shot out quickly (see Cranston’s impressive round one goal as an example of this) and while their defensive unit has help up fairly well, there is just constant pressure on them and they inevitably leak scores under the pure weight of numbers. Small skill errors—something we saw a lot from some experienced Cats—are so much more dangerous when playing this kind of game.
Carlton v Collingwood @ Ikon Park
Carlton 1.0.6 | 2.1.13 | 2.4.16 | 3.6.24
Collingwood 2.2.14 | 4.2.26 | 4.3.27 | 6.3.39
Carlton: Brazzale, Harris, Walker
Collingwood: Membrey (2), Allen, Casey, D’Arcy, Sheridan
- After signalling Carlton’s inaccuracy last week with their final score of 6.12, it’s a little unsurprising to see that they had the same number of scoring shots as Collingwood, but lost by 15 points. Granted, one of those behinds was a shot from Dalton that was deemed not to have fully crossed the goal line before bouncing into the post, but many of these shots from the Blues really should have been converted. As mentioned previously, percentage is everything in AFLW and not taking chances in front of goal is placing your fate in the hands of other teams.
- Discipline really let the Blues down early in the game, giving Collingwood an early lead—and the swagger to go along with it. A silly 50m penalty thanks to Dalton running through the mark handed Jordyn Allen the easiest of goals, then a lingering tackle at the goal face gave Membrey a simple set shot. Those errors really did put Carlton on the back foot, and once they did wrestle back momentum they didn’t make the most of it. Harford would undoubtedly be using this as a lesson for his team about how costly lapses of concentration can be.
- Sarah D’Arcy spent three seasons threatening to become really damaging for Collingwood—particularly once they lost the bulk of their forward line—but never quite lived up to that potential. Until now. D’Arcy was crucial to the Pies’ forward half game, not just putting her body on the line wherever needed, but her cleanness with the ground ball really caught her opposition out on multiple occasions. She kicked one goal herself but, much like Wuetschner last week, had a hand in almost every forward foray.
- The tactics employed by Collingwood mids to shut down Madison Prespakis, while effective, flirted with the line at times. A lesson that Prespakis will need to learn. Breaking a tag is one thing, but it’s an ongoing process that the young star will undoubtedly experience for the remainder of her career.
- Plenty of credit needs to go to Collingwood’s backline, but they were certainly assisted by the pressure applied by their teammates up the ground, including a combined 21 tackles from Molloy, Lambert, O’Dea, Layton and Porter. With a midfield running both ways like that, entries into defence are typically not to the forwards’ advantage and allows the backline more time and opportunity to repel.
Adelaide v St. Kilda @ Hisense Stadium
Adelaide 0.0.0 | 2.1.13 | 3.2.20 | 6.4.40
St. Kilda 1.1.7 | 3.2.20 | 4.2.26 | 4.3.27
Adelaide: Biddell, Considine, Gould, Jones, Newman, Thompson
St. Kilda: Greiser (2), McCarthy, Sedunary
St. Kilda: Clara Fitzpatrick (concussion)
- The Saints might be 0-2 but they are turning plenty of heads with their highly skilled list, and outstanding young players. Last week it was Molly McDonald and Georgia Patrikios, this week Tarni White and Caitlin Greiser really stepped up. In the forward 50, Greiser was a dominant force, crashing packs, strong in the air but also proving her agility and quick thinking at ground level. White’s 10 marks and 18 disposals—16 of which were kicks—were important to the Saints’ attacking ball movement. With the ball size, average length of kicks and shorter game, metres gained becomes critical and White was able to make the most of her possessions.
- Kate McCarthy is good for footy. Her ability to read the play and know when to use her speed is a huge asset for the Saints. This was exemplified with her first quarter goal, picking off Adelaide’s attempt to switch in their back 50 by putting on the burners and sprinting into goal. It was not only stunning, but really got the Saints going early in the game.
- The incredible comeback from Adelaide will no doubt have their fans up and about this week. Down by a goal at three quarter time, the Crows started to find better options going forward and didn’t let St Kilda’s pressure force skill errors as they’d done earlier in the game. Adelaide is never out of the contest—even without Randall, Phillips or Cramey—and they’ll take a lot from their ability to regain control of the game.
- Courtney Gum might have come out of retirement to join Adelaide’s list this year, but she’s not lost one iota of her ability. Hyper-fit, Gum covers the ground beautifully and is reliable when the team needs some steadying. With 19 touches and five tackles, it was one of her seven marks that really caught attention. In the final quarter Gum backed up ever so casually to take a one handed mark over her head, with Saints coming at her from behind. It was the ease in which she took the mark that made it all the more impressive.
- With their huge injury list, there has been a silver lining for the Crows—the experience gained by their talented youngsters and the strength they’ve shown when the going gets tough. Naturally the input of experienced players like Gum, Marinoff, Foley and Hatchard is crucial, but it was first gamer Caitlin Gould’s first goal in AFLW that levelled the scores late in the final quarter, and second gamer Madison Newman’s first goal that put them in front. Assisted by seven tackles from Gore, an earlier goal from Biddell and countless other one-percenters from the young crew, Adelaide’s established players know that when it gets tough, they can rely on their depth.