2022 AFLW debut season focus: Round 2

AFTER the opening weekend of season 2022 featured debuts galore, first year players continued to impress in Round 2. The headline act was number one pick Charlie Rowbottom, who earned a Rising Star nomination for her starring role in Gold Coast’s first win of the year. We take a look at how those in their debut season performed – either first year players, or those who were yet to make their AFL Women’s debut despite being on a club’s list.

  • Team
  • Richmond
  • Melbourne

Round 2 bounced down under Friday night lights as Richmond hosted Melbourne at Punt Road Oval. After the Tigers’ fast start, they were comprehensively outdone in a five-goal to nil second term which set up the Dees’ 16-point salute.

Injury replacement player Meg Macdonald made her debut in yellow and black, completing a whirlwind couple of weeks. She only registered one disposal, but her courageous aerial effort in front of a charging Tayla Harris is sure to get a good run during vision meetings throughout the week.

Last week’s Tiger debutants, Stella Reid and Meagan Kiely, did more than enough to maintain their starting spots. While neither of the 2021 draftees managed to repeat their goal feats from last time out, the latter again looked solid with 12 touches and six tackles.

In the red and blue, second-year tall Maggie Caris backed up her maiden senior outing with improved numbers of six disposals, four tackles and nine hitouts. In a similar vein, midfielder Eliza West notched 16 touches and four clearances across her side’s win.

  • Team
  • Collingwood
  • St Kilda

With star players missing for both Collingwood and St Kilda, the Magpies managed to flex their muscle in a 27-point victory at Victoria Park – their eighth-straight at the venue. Signs were ominous as the Saints took until the final term to register a goal, but they ended up with two consolations six-pointers.

Mature-age recruit Imogen Barnett would have felt right at home despite being a late inclusion for Stephanie Chiocci. The tall forward made an early statement with her run-down tackle in the centre corridor, before ending her day a touch early having copped a heavy knock to her back.

The highlights continued for a couple more first-year Magpies, headlined by Eloise Chaston‘s first senior goal. She was joined in the forward rotation by fellow draftee Eliza James, who took the game on in style during term three to set up an Aishling Sheridan‘s second goal with a bustling run and booming kick through the corridor.

In opposing colours, SANFLW product Leah Cutting proved up to the level with her work in the ruck against Alison Downie, winning 19 hitouts to go with her seven touches, four tackles and two clearances. Lucy Burke was the Saints’ other first-year player afield, and had it four times while laying a couple of tackles.

  • Team
  • Geelong
  • Carlton

The ‘Prespakis Cup’ went the way of Carlton on Saturday as the Blues raided Kardinia Park for a 14-point win over Geelong. Star draftee Georgie Prespakis backed up her Round 1 Rising Star nomination with 15 disposals and three clearances, spending some time opposite sister, Maddie at the stoppages.

Gabbi Featherston joined a swag of first-year Cats in the side this week, producing a couple of promising moments on debut. The prodigious athlete was stationed behind the ball and her lone mark of the game was a sign of things to come, plucking the ball over Georgia Gee just inside attacking 50.

Fellow first rounders Zali Friswell (six disposals, three tackles) and Annabel Johnson (seven disposals, five tackles) also featured at the Cattery, while imposing Irishwoman Rachel Kearns laid a handful of tackles to go with her maiden league goal. Rounding out Geelong’s first-year cohort, mature-ager VFLW converts Olivia Fuller (10 disposals, six hitouts) and Claudia Gunjaca (11 disposals, five marks) were solid in the loss.

In somewhat of a homecoming, Geelong Falcons graduate Annie Lee had seven touches from Carlton’s defence, with talls Jess Good (nine disposals, three marks, 12 hitouts) and Paige Trudgeon (eight disposals, four marks) showing good signs. Up the other end, third-year Blue Courtney Jones again nabbed a goal.

  • Team
  • West Coast
  • Gold Coast

Gold Coast SUNS proved they can compete, pulling off a memorable 13-point comeback victory over West Coast at Whitten Oval. The Queensland club looked down and out at 16 points adrift in term four, but rallied with five unanswered goals to boot their highest-ever score (46).

Right in the thick of the fightback was Tara Bohanna, who served as an excellent advertisement for mature-age state leaguers. The former Southern Saint spearhead clunked five marks and capped her second outing with three late goals in a flurry, forming a formidable partnership with Sarah Perkins inside 50.

Prized draftee Charlie Rowbottom was another game changer, showcasing all her physicality around the ball to collect a team-high 17 disposals, 12 tackles and five clearances. Elsewhere for the Suns, Territorian Ashanti Bush made her debut in the long sleeves, while 27-year-old Jacqui Dupuy snared her first goal at the level.

Charlotte Thomas was West Coast’s sole first-year representative but was a touch quieter for the Eagles after a promising debut in Round 1. She finished with a couple of touches and five tackles in the loss.

  • Team
  • Adelaide
  • North Melbourne

Adelaide got the job done over North Melbourne with a 13-point win over the Roos in Norwood Oval, cementing their spot as a genuine flag contender once more. There was not the wealth of first-year talent afield as in other clashes, with both squads quite experienced and settled.

Basketball convert Jasmine Simmons was the Crows’ sole fresh face, and the 22-year-old put up strong numbers for the victors. Her first major still eludes her (0.2), but she took five marks and earned two clearances among her 11 disposals.

For the Kangaroos, second-year father-daughter recruit Amy Smith matched her Round 1 numbers with eight disposals, adding a couple of marks, while VFLW coup Jasmine Ferguson also had it eight times and took a handful of marks along the way.

  • Team
  • Fremantle

Fremantle rounded out an eventful weekend strongly, downing Greater Western Sydney (GWS) by 32 points having kept the GIANTS goalless after quarter time. Playing on neutral ground at Whitten Oval, the Dockers powered away in term two and never looked back, though only one major was managed after half time.

A pair of Dockers nabbed their first goals, with Dana East (11 disposals, eight tackles) gifted one off a 50-metre penalty, while Ann McMahon (six disposals, two tackles) converted hers nicely inside the arc. Irish tall Aine Tighe again showed signs, while draftees Makaela Tuhakaraina (six disposals, three tackles), Jess Low (four tackles), and Airlie Runnalls (nine disposals, two marks) all produced positive moments across the lines.

The GIANTS were served well in the ruck by academy graduate Ally Morphett, who looked strong for her 15 hitouts. Meanwhile, Emily Pease made a strong debut with 13 touches, as Brid Stack (10 disposals, two marks) and Ally Dallaway (nine disposals, four tackles) fared well in the second league outings.

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