Friday Talking Points: Conti stars, Saints fade
IT was the Tigers of Old – or should it be said the Tigers of New – when Richmond put St Kilda to the sword in the second half to run away with a 38-point victory in the opening AFL Women’s match of the 2022 season. The Tigers booted six consecutive goals after quarter time and made the most of their forward chances to win, 10.1 (61) to 3.5 (23).
Monique Conti with a full preseason behind her is a scary proposition
There was little doubting who was best on ground in the opening match of the season, with Monique Conti taking home what will surely be the first of many three-vote performances. Conti was unstoppable against a Saints midfield lacking the polish that the Richmond gun provided, and she helped 29 disposals, nine clearances and seven tackles in a huge first game.
Bad kicking is bad football
Unfortunately the Saints missed two of their best ball users in Georgia Patrikios and Tyanna Smith, and it showed. Whilst they brought the heat early on, the delivery inside 50 was not ideal for their leading targets, and they ended up running at 48.6 per cent for the night. Their three highest disposal winners ran at 35 per cent efficiency or worse. Though the Saints brought the heat around the ball, (almost identical contested possession numbers) they were beaten on the outside, with 27 less uncontested possessions.
Tarni White will have a breakout year
The Queenslander was very impressive last season coming back from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury the season before, but she is ready to go from very good, to a Top 30 player in 2022. Without Patrikios and Smith – and Molly McDonald in this match – she stood up with a big performance. Picking up 14 disposals, four marks and running at an efficiency of 71.4 per cent, White also picked up 253 metres gained and had nine intercept possessions. One who never gave up and certainly caught the eye.
Katie Brennan looks back to her best
The Richmond captain would have loved seeing the likes of Conti and Tessa Lavey dominating the midfield, and she too benefited on the end of it. But unlike many key forwards, Brennan recorded a remarkable 261 metres gained – third behind the two running machines – to go with her 13 touches, three marks and two goals. Throw in six tackles, and Brennan was a workhorse whose performance may not get the credit it deserves. Courtney Wakefield and Christina Bernardi also kicked a couple each.
Richmond’s midfield bats deep
Unlike in the inaugural season where Conti did basically all the heavy lifting, the young gun now has plenty of support around her. Lavey racked up 19 disposals, with the Hosking sisters – Sarah and Jess – both having 11 through that midfield. Gabrielle Seymour not only got the job done in the ruck, but won her fair share of the ball, almost becoming that fourth midfielder with 13 hitouts and 15 touches, not to mention running at 66.7 per cent.
Fresh faces contribute
There were some fresh faces on both sides, and many certainly had an impact. For the Tigers, Meagan Kiely slotted a goal with her first kick, then finished with two touches from 11 disposals and five tackles. Stella Reid also slotted the first of many of her career, with Emelia Yassir showing hardness at the contest. Poppy Kelly looked very impressive against her old side, whilst Maddie Shevlin and Beth Lynch had moments out of defence. For the Saints, Leah Cutting took a couple of strong marks, whilst Alana Woodward found nine touches against her former side.
[ … MATCH STATISTICS … ]
Richmond takes on Melbourne under lights in what should be a step up from this game, whilst the Saints head to Victoria Park to take on Collingwood.