DEBUTS rolled on and a bunch more first-year AFL Women’s players notched their first senior goals across six entertaining Round 3 fixtures. We take a look at how those in their debut season performed this past weekend – either first-year players, or those who were yet to make their AFL Women’s debut despite being on a club’s list.
Collingwood 2021 draftee Eliza James set Kardinia Park alight on Friday night, taking the game on and showcasing all the explosive athleticism she was lauded for as a prospect. The exciting forward snared her maiden senior goal with a handy finish, and looks a strong shout for Rising Star honours this week. Fellow forward Eloise Chaston also got involved in the Magpies’ win, with seven disposals and two tackles.
In the hoops of Geelong, Georgie Prespakis sported a nice shiner and copped her first taste of a direct tag, as she felt the arm of Ebony O’Dea across her. She still managed 11 touches, seven tackles and three clearances despite the attention, with fellow first-year players Zali Friswell (eight disposals, two clearances) and Olivia Fuller (22 hitouts) joining her around the ball.
Elsewhere for the Cats, Rachel Kearns did some damage to former County Mayo teammate Sarah Rowe in a rare game against her, while mature-age coup Claudia Gunjaca and fresh draftee Gabbi Featherston also maintained their spots in the losing side.
A pair of West Coast draftees headlined the Eagles’ excitement on Saturday, but it unfortunately stopped there as they were downed by Adelaide to the tune of 33 points. 2021 West Australian Under 19 teammates Sarah Lakay (seven disposals, 10 hitouts) and Courtney Rowley (six disposals, three marks) had their time in the sun, with the former named in the ruck and the latter a late inclusion.
Both sides also fielded players who debuted earlier in the season, with the Eagles again taking in the promising Charlotte Thomas. She collected six touches and laid two tackles, while Adelaide’s Jasmine Simmons managed two disposals as her side ran rampant.
Melbourne shifted gear with force in its 41-point win over St Kilda on Saturday, looking a settled and fearsome side when in full stride. Eliza West and Maggie Caris have broken through to play every game thus far, and again got to work. Young midfielder, West continues to show promise after her 13 disposals and four clearances, while Caris managed four touches and nine hitouts as key position fold.
Leah Cutting has really come into her own after a Round 1 debut, with the mature-age ruck standing up in the gutsy Saints’ loss. She registered 10 disposals, three marks, 10 tackles and 12 hitouts in a well-rounded display. Meanwhile, debutant Ashleigh Richards had a couple of nice moments and Lucy Burke was also out there for her third consecutive game in the red, white and black.
Fremantle was another side to pull away from a plucky opponent, defeating Richmond by 30 points to round out Saturday’s fixtures. The Dockers have injected some strong new talent into their squad this year, with a couple snagging their first AFLW goals over the weekend.
They came in the small and tall variety, as speedster Makaela Tuhakaraina got her maiden six-pointer, along with Irish tall Aine Tighe – who also clunked five marks. Other first year Dockers afield included impressive midfielders Dana East (10 disposals, four tackles, one goal), Airlie Runnalls (10 disposals, three marks), and Jess Low (seven disposals.
The Tigers welcomed back 2021 draftee Emelia Yassir this week, and the youngster was another to boot her first-ever senior goal this round. Stella Reid and Meagan Kiely joined her forward of centre, with the latter also earning two clearances among her 10 disposals.
Greater Western Sydney (GWS) unveiled one of its prize 2021 draftees this week in Jessica Doyle, with the Sydney Swans Academy product finding the big sticks in her opening outing. The Giants were handily beaten by North Melbourne though, going scoreless in the first half.
GWS also fielded Ally Morphett in the ruck, who used her size well to prize four clearances and seven hitouts, with Ally Dallaway (six disposals, four tackles), Brid Stack (eight disposals), and Emily Pease (four disposals) other Giants to have debuted earlier in the season who ran out again on Sunday. Jasmine Ferguson was the Kangaroos’ lone first year representative, contributing three touches and two tackles in her side’s win.
Round 3 ended on Tuesday as Brisbane returned to the fold with a 35-point win over Carlton in Tuesday’s improvised fixture. The Lions looked back to their ominous best and were served well by a couple of debutants who have waited for their turn.
2020 draftee Zimmorlei Farquharson was a standout with her 12 disposals and 1.2, generating some scoring flow for the Lions in her slick looking long-sleever. Ruby Svarc also debuted for Brisbane, joining her sister Cathy in the maroon, blue and gold.
Carlton also blooded a pair of debutants, with 2021 Vic Metro teammates Keeley Sherar and Brooke Vickers earning late call-ups. Vickers got stuck in with 10 touches in navy blue, while lifelong ‘Bagger Sherar had it five times. Elsewhere, Courtney Jones (three goals) continued her scoring ways, while Paige Trudgeon took on plenty of key position responsibility, and Annie Lee continued her learning down back.