TWO debutants were unveiled in Round 4 of the 2022 AFL Women’s season, while a Gold Coast forward spurred her side to victory in another standout performance. 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.
Fremantle continues to press its claim as a premiership threat, and has also maintained its blooding of fresh talent with six first-year players featuring in the Dockers’ 31-point road win over Collingwood. Irishwoman Aine Tighe starred in a seamless shift to defence, quelling the impact of Sabrina Frederick while registering 14 disposals and six marks of her own.
VFLW recruit Airlie Runnalls (13 disposals, two clearances) was again strong for the Dockers, as was fellow mature-age draftee Jess Low (eight disposals), while Ann McMahon returned after being managed. Youngsters Dana East and Makaela Tuhakaraina also featured in purple, getting their hands dirty with a combined eight tackles.
After her standout performance last time out, Collingwood forward Eliza James was her side’s sole first year representative, contributing five touches and a tackle to the Magpies’ opening defeat for 2022.
Greater Western Sydney (GWS) fielded two debutants in a stirring rebound win over the Western Bulldogs, making it seven first-year players in the charcoal and orange this week. Brodee Mowbray and Casidhe Simmons were the two new Giants, joining last week’s first-gamer Jess Doyle in the lineup.
Among other contributors who debuted this year, Emily Pease again got her hands on the ball with a new career-high 14 disposals, while Ally Morphett and Brid Stack combined for five marks and Ally Dallaway complimented her eight touches with four tackles. After a couple of weeks off, Amanda Ling was the Bulldogs’ only remaining first-year player, registering eight disposals in the loss.
Adelaide’s premiership favourite status was all but stamped on Saturday as the Crows downed Melbourne by 14 points at their Norwood Oval fortress. Both sides only fielded one first-year player apiece, with the Dees’ usual duo disrupted as Maggie Caris came out of the side.
That left midfielder Eliza West to go solo, and she managed six disposals and a single clearance against Adelaide’s fearsome engine room. For the Crows, Jasmine Simmons kept her spot in the lineup and all seven of her touches in the victory were handballs.
A Chloe Scheer-inspired Geelong fell two points short of a massive upset win over Brisbane on Saturday, but continues to get good minutes into its first year talent. Claudia Gunjaca was absent, but fellow mature-age coup Olivia Fuller featured, as did Irishwoman Rachel Kearns and the Cats’ full array of 2021 first round selections.
Most were kept relatively quiet, with prized pick Georgie Prespakis notching nine touches without her trademark long-sleever, with fellow Calder Cannons graduate Zali Friswell managing the same haul. Gabbi Featherston had it three times, while Annabel Johnson returned for seven touches and two marks.
The Lions maintained Zimmorlei Farquharson after her electric debut, but she was not quite able to produce the same output this time out, finishing her second senior outing with a couple of disposals, three tackles and a minor score.
Despite running out of legs against a North Melbourne side which bounced into the top four, Carlton showed some green shoots on Sunday in a 30-point loss. Poppy Schaap became the Blues’ eighth debutant for 2022, having just four touches but showing her natural footballing smarts forward of centre.
Forward-turned-defender Paige Trudgeon was arguably the pick of Carlton’s 2022 debutant’s, getting in good spots across a besieged backline and proving composed in possession. Keeley Sherar was productive on the opposite wing to Brooke Vickers, while Courtney Jones fell short of a fourth-straight game with a goal since her Round 1 debut.
For North Melbourne, who look every bit the contender once again, VFLW recruit Jasmine Ferguson was the sole first year Roo afield, contributing six disposals and a couple of marks to her side’s third win of the season.
Gold Coast’s competitive streak translated into a winning effort for the second time running, as the Suns downed Richmond by five points to see out the Round 4 proceedings. Having formed a strong partnership with Sarah Perkins up forward, Tara Bohanna again starred with eight marks and 2.3 among her 16 disposals. She even copped an opponent change late in the piece after her earlier exploits.
Number one draft pick Charlie Rowbottom was again prominent around the ball with 19 disposals and three clearances, while fellow 2021 draftee Ashanti Bush turned out for her second senior game alongside third-gamer Jacqui Dupuy.
For Richmond, the usual trio of recent draftees in Stella Reid, Emelia Yassir, and Meagan Kiely featured, with the latter pair combining for 13 tackles – a haul greater than their combined disposal tally this time out. All four of Reid’s touches were handballs, as the Tigers suffered a third loss for the season.