By Gemma Bastiani
Footy is finally back and I couldn’t be more pleased.
Richmond v Carlton @ Ikon Park
Richmond 0.0.0 | 0.2.2 | 0.2.2 | 2.2.14
Carlton 1.5.11 | 1.8.14 | 5.9.39 | 6.12.48
Richmond: Frederick, Wakefield
Carlton: Downie, Harris, Loynes, Prespakis, Vescio, Walker
- Carlton kicked off the game with a swift centre clearance from Breann Moody putting Richmond’s defence under immediate pressure. The Tigers’ backs were under siege all night, but they were able to contain much of it, forcing wayward shots or rushed behinds from the Blues. Akec Makur Chuot and Phoebe Monahan really did lead their defensive group all night, with the former particularly impressive.
- Richmond, from the outset, showed what kind of team they want to be—or at least be seen as. Casual observers might muse that Carlton got the rub of the green, but the Tigers went in with a tough intent, verging on reckless and this was not received well by umpires, resulting in an 18-28 free kick differential in Carlton’s favour.
- Early in the match Tayla Harris looked like she was absolutely going to tear the game apart with her strength and contested marking, but it was another famous Carlton name that really impressed. Darcy Vescio covered the ground brilliantly, spending a lot of time up the ground and finding space to assist in Carlton’s ball movement—particularly when under immense pressure or when attempting to switch the ball. Not only that, but she became a dangerous target inside 50. This might be her best season yet.
- With a number of promising young players out there for both sides, it was three emerging Blues that really put their stamp on the game. Georgia Gee looks to have taken a giant step up this season with not only her damaging speed, but her movement of the ball inside 50 proving crucial. 2019 Rising Star Madison Prespakis was arguably best on ground, shaking off an early head knock to gather 21 touches, lay five tackles and kick a goal, and likely 2020 Rising Star Lucy McEvoy looked right at home. She kicked off the game with a mark inside 50—followed by a wayward set shot—but it was a contested mark moments later which really made observers take notice. She can be anything this year.
- Davey who? Brianna Davey is an undoubted star of the competition, and there were questions over Carlton’s ability to cover the loss, but it didn’t take long to realise they remain a force, Davey or not.
GWS v Gold Coast @ Blacktown International Sportspark
GWS 0.1.1 | 0.2.2 | 1.3.9 | 1.3.9
Gold Coast 1.0.6 | 1.2.8 | 1.2.8 | 1.2.8
Gold Coast: Perry
Gold Coast: N/A
- Gold Coast well and truly entered the AFLW in the most trying conditions with Sydney’s well known February rain showing up at Blacktown—as it has the past three years for the Giants—and the Suns did well adapting to the conditions. They laid 80 tackles to the Giants’ 55 in their efforts to lock the game down, 12 of which came from highly touted midfielder Jacqui Yorston.
- The Giants won their first round one match in their AFLW history by the narrowest of margins, but their ability to grind out the game after the Suns came out tough was a bright note for them.
- Heavy legs at the end of the slog were evident, with Gold Coast in particular struggling to get the ball out of the scrap. The low score is evidence of just how difficult it was to move the ball in these conditions.
- Rebecca Privitelli returned to the AFLW in a big way, with her presence up forward evident from the outset. Her contested marking and ability to neutralise aerial contests was brilliant, particularly given the conditions, and it was a huge tease of what she might bring on a dry day.
- One might question the choice to play Jess Dal Pos behind the ball. The Giants’ midfield is stacked with the likes of Parker, Eva, Beeson, Dal Pos and Zreika so naturally they can’t all be on the ball, but Eva or Beeson seem more suitable for that half-back role which would allow Dal Pos to use her strength to break out of stoppages rather than directing traffic.
Melbourne v North Melbourne @ Casey Fields
Melbourne 0.0.0 | 2.2.14 | 2.3.15 | 3.4.22
North Melbourne 2.1.13 | 2.1.13 | 3.2.20 | 3.2.20
Melbourne: Hore (2), Zanker
North Melbourne: Ashmore, Bateman, Riddell
North Melbourne: Daria Bannister (shoulder/collarbone)
- It’s only round one, but this loomed as a season-sculpting game for Melbourne. In the far more competitive Conference B, coming up against the premiership favourites without a handful of certain first-21 players, the Dees really needed a good start to the season and this kind of win not only helps their ladder position but their mindset going forward.
- The unforgiving wind at Casey Fields wrecked havoc with ball reading, but it did create a couple of impressive goals that bent drastically in the air. The first from Kate Hore and a third quarter stunner from Ash Riddell. In the face of that wind a number of key defenders—namely Libby Birch, Meg Downie, Danielle Hardiman & Tahlia Randall—showed off their ball reading ability, out marking their forward opponents all day.
- Kate Hore impressed right from the outset. Going into this season as one of Melbourne’s least accurate in front of goal, she took her chances and kicked 2.1 in the face of the swirling wind.
- Without Lauren Pearce available, Harriet Cordner was thrown into the ruck against Vivien Saad and Emma King, holding her own. It wasn’t so much her 12 hit outs, but more her follow up at ground level that was really impressive, including superior fitness to cover the ground and four tackles.
- Two weeks ago Vivien Saad was not on an AFLW list and coming into round one she found out she’d be making her debut. The sudden timing of it all didn’t seem to phase Saad as she barely put a foot wrong all day, registering 10 hitouts and laying six tackles to help her midfielders win the clearances 22-26.
Brisbane v Adelaide @ Hickey Park
Brisbane 2.2.14 | 3.3.21 | 5.3.33 | 5.4.34
Adelaide 0.0.0 | 1.2.8 | 1.2.8 | 3.3.21
Brisbane: Arnell (2), Bodey, O’Dwyer, Wardlaw
Adelaide: Foley, Gore, Gum
- In the biggest surprise of the round, Brisbane’s ability to get the jump on Adelaide was impressive. Yes, Adelaide’s depth is being severely tested, but their listed team still looked strong enough to knock off Brisbane, who have been decimated by expansion in the past two years. It was the Lions’ ability to get out to an early lead before the wet conditions really set in that put them in good stead.
- The biggest plus for Brisbane is the fact that they managed to kick five goals without relying on Jess Wuetschner to be the one to kick them. Cross-code rookie signings Greta Bodey and Orla O’Dwyer got them on the board early— Wuetschner had a hand in both goals—and then the experienced Arnell and Wardlaw kept them ticking over for the remainder of the game.
- Adelaide seemed stunned by Brisbane’s immediate intensity and it took them over a quarter to impact the scoreboard—a performance far removed from their dominant 2019 finals campaign. It’s not all doom and gloom for the Crows, however, as they’re heading home next week, and let’s not forget the only match they dropped last year was round one.
- Anne Hatchard broke the AFLW disposal record set by teammate Ebony Marinoff in the slog. Registering 34 disposals—alongside her nine marks and six tackles—Hatchard battled all day for the Crows. Possibly more impressive was her consistency throughout the game, notching up 17 touches in each half.
- Kate Lutkins was, yet again, outstanding. With eight marks and 17 touches she was a brick wall that Adelaide struggled to break through. Not only does Lutkins gather the ball a lot herself, she allows her fellow defenders to play more freely. Lutkins makes the already impressive Shannon Campbell a better player and they’re a tough duo to crack when they’re on their game.
Collingwood v West Coast @ Victoria Park
Collingwood 0.0.0 | 2.2.14 | 3.4.22 | 5.8.38
West Coast 1.2.8 | 1.2.8 | 1.4.10 | 1.5.11
Collingwood: Chiocci, D’Arcy, Lambert, Layton, Molloy
West Coast: Hooker
Collingwood: Brianna Davey (lower leg)
West Coast: Ashton Hill (knee), Grace Kelly (hamstring)
- In the midst of a number of big names, Jaimee Lambert is Collingwood’s best—and most important—player. Her ability to win it at the source, then become involved further down the chain goes a long way toward Collingwood’s ball movement. She must be one of the fittest players in the game, and the way she also impacts the forward line is invaluable.
- West Coast are an impressive side, but they just need a little more time to hit their stride. The reliance on Hooker and Swanson to win the ball did start to cause them some grief as Collingwood really found their groove after quarter time, but the way they applied pressure and were able to contain the ball in their forward half will serve them well this season.
- Parris Laurie is an underrated recruit for the Eagles. She rucked solo for the duration of the game, and while the name Sharni Layton is rightly on everyone’s lips, Laurie definitely deserves credit for the performance she put out, too. Pushing Layton all day, Laurie covered the ground beautifully and is certainly an asset for the Eagles.
- Chloe Molloy is back and her 2019 VFLW season and AFLW preseason gave us a hint at what she would bring upon her return. The caveat being that she could be somewhat unreliable in front of goal, but when the Pies were searching for an answer to Dana Hooker’s first quarter goal, Molloy delivered. A set shot about 40m out close to the boundary, she navigated the wind beautifully to bend her shot into goal. From there, the Pies got the momentum and never really gave the Eagles a sniff.
- Kellie Gibson may not have had the best day out, registering just the three disposals and one tackle, but she caught the attention of those watching on with a risky, but effective, kick out of the air in front of a charging Steph Chiocci. As Collingwood cleared it to the space of the wing, it looked like a collision would ensue with Gibson and Chiocci running full pelt at one another and the ball, but it was Gibson’s last moment decision to jump and kick the ball out of mid air—without taking possession—that made onlookers gasp.
St. Kilda v Western Bulldogs @ RSEA Park
St. Kilda 1.0.6 | 1.1.7 | 1.1.7 | 2.2.14
Western Bulldogs 4.1.25 | 5.1.31 | 5.2.32 | 6.3.39
St. Kilda: McDonald, Sedunary
Western Bulldogs: Toogood (2), Hunt, Lamb, Marshall, McCarthy
St. Kilda: Nadia von Bertouch (knee)
Western Bulldogs: Celine Moody (ankle), Isabel Huntington (concussion)
- The Saints returned to Moorabbin in front of a capacity crowd of 8000. Those who went along were treated to a fascinating game and despite the scoreline, the new Saints were far from disappointing. Their team—led by a number of players getting a second shot at AFLW—showed their skill and ability, just ultimately outclassed by a more experienced outfit.
- In an ominous sign to the rest of the competition, the Dogs kicked four goals into the wind during the first quarter. This was headlined by Bonnie Toogood who, after a season in defence, finds herself back at home in the forward line. Her ability to beautifully navigate the swirling wind to slot her first really set the tone for the day.
- Youngsters drew attention for both sides with their display of skill and class across the ground. For the Saints it was Molly McDonald and Georgia Patrikios that impressed the most with their agility and speed with the ball. For the Dogs it was Gemma Lagioia and Elisabeth Georgostathis showing off their pressure and in and under ability.
- It didn’t take long for Danielle Marshall, the first American in the AFLW, to hit the scoreboard, getting on the end of a kick by Ellie Blackburn sliding it through. She’ll certainly be a player to watch grow as the season progresses.
- The Dogs want to go fast, and they’re not concerned with playing pretty footy if it’s going to get the ball forward. Past Bulldogs sides have been very controlled in the build up to half forward and then attempt to enter 50 quickly, but this match signalled a significant change with them wanting to play on at every opportunity.
Fremantle v Geelong @ Fremantle Oval
Fremantle 1.0.6 | 3.3.21 | 4.4.28 | 6.8.44
Geelong 1.2.8 | 3.2.20 | 4.4.28 | 4.4.28
Fremantle: Duffy (4), Houghton, Roux
Geelong: Clarke, Cranston, Maguire, Morrison
Fremantle: Stephanie Cain (knee)
- In the game of the round, fears about how these two teams would fare in the face of lost talent—through expansion and injury—were unfounded. Both teams played inspired footy and while Fremantle largely won the territory battle, with 47 inside 50s to 13, Geelong held their own in defence even without 2019 All Australian defender Meg McDonald.
- Gemma Houghton could be anything this year, if she can kick straight. The tall Docker was everywhere, expertly using her speed to run and carry while also remaining a dominant force in the forward line, and she looked like she was going to break the game apart but returned 1.3 from her 17 disposals.
- Another display of young talent to complete the round, highly touted draftee Roxy Roux certainly didn’t disappoint as she threatened up forward and supported in the ruck, with her first goal coming from a strong snap around the body from 40m out. Her fellow debutant Mim Strom was stunning as their first choice ruck while Fremantle’s depth is tested.
- For the Cats, the return of Nina Morrison headlined Geelong’s round one match and the pressure was minimised with coach Paul Hood playing her mostly forward of the ball where she registered her first goal—going one better than her behind in round one 2019.
- Kiara Bowers and Olivia Purcell picked up right where they left off last season. Bowers led in the middle registering 22 touches and 14 tackles, while Purcell gathered the ball 27 times herself to go along with her five marks. Oh, and Sabreena Duffy continued her 2019 goal kicking form, with a goal in each quarter.