2022 AFLW debut season focus: Round 9

FREMANTLE was sent into a selection frenzy before its Round 9 clash with Melbourne, and it meant the Dockers’ fielded three debutants to bring their season tally to 11. We take a look at how those in their debut campaigns 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 prior to 2022.

  • Team
  • St Kilda
  • Geelong

Geelong’s goalkicking woes saw St Kilda pick up its second victory for 2022, making for consecutive successes as season’s end nears. The Saints had three first year players contribute to the win, with ruck Leah Cutting (seven tackles, 13 hitouts) making a strong return among them. A pair of 2021 Vic Country Under 19 teammates Ella Friend (nine disposals) and Ashleigh Richards (seven) also turned out in red, white and black.

The Cats’ usual first-year brigade was trimmed down to four players in Round 9, lead by number two pick Georgie Prespakis (16 disposals, five tackles). Mature-agers Olivia Fuller and Claudia Gunjaca also featured, while Irishwoman Rachel Kearns had 10 touches, took three marks and kicked a couple of her side’s nine behinds in the loss.

  • Team
  • Richmond

Richmond secured a morale-boosting win over Greater Western Sydney (GWS) on Saturday, with a mature-ager among the Tigers’ best. Namely, it was Meagan Kiely, as the VFLW coup booted a goal from her 10 disposals and three clearances in yellow and black. Fellow 2021 draftee Emelia Yassir was also afield, contributing a handful of touches and tackles.

The Giants have blooded a good amount of fresh talent this season, and four of them were present in their latest outing. Second year Irishwoman Brid Stack and Emily Pease snared their maiden league goals, while young gun Jessica Doyle managed seven touches and Ally Dallaway had nine, along with five tackles and two clearances.

  • Team
  • Fremantle
  • Melbourne

Melbourne’s record-breaking win over Fremantle stole all the headlines on Saturday, but it was the Dockers’ pre-game selection scramble which garnered attention before the fact. With health and safety protocols met, late changes saw three debutants unfurled – Maggie Maclachlan, Mikayla Western, and Sarah Wielstra. Maclachlan snared a goal, while Western showed plenty with her eight touches and Wielstra won three clearances.

State Under 19 teammates Dana East (18 disposals, seven tackles) and Makaela Tuhakaraina (four tackles, one goal) made important contributions, as did fellow 2021 draftee Airlie Runnalls and Irishwoman Aine Tighe. Also among Fremantle’s 11 2022 debutants to appear were Ann McMahon and Jess Low. For the Dees, first year standout Eliza West again impressed with a game-high 24 disposals and seven clearances.

  • Team
  • West Coast
  • Western Bulldogs

The Western Bulldogs and West Coast Eagles locked horns in Saturday’s final fixture, but saw the lowest number of debut season players take the field for Round 9. Only two made the cut, and both were on the Eagles’ side. 2021 state Under 19 teammates Charlotte Thomas (nine disposals) and Sarah Lakay (nine hitouts) were said players, gaining valuable experience despite their side’s 10-goal loss.

  • Team
  • Brisbane
  • North Melbourne

Brisbane made a statement on Sunday with its 36-point drubbing of North Melbourne, with three first year players continuing their runs in the side. Both Zimmorlei Farquharson and Ruby Svarc notched up eight disposals, while Lucinda Pullar had five to go with a couple of marks and tackles. For the Kangaroos, VFLW pick-up Jasmine Ferguson could only manage three touches in the loss as her side’s sole first year representative.

  • Team
  • Adelaide
  • Collingwood

Adelaide managed to keep a plucky Collingwood outfit at bay on Sunday, but one of the Magpies’ first year guns had a big say in the two-point loss. Eliza James booted half of her side’s goals (two) from 10 disposals, continuing her impressive start to life at AFLW level. For the Crows, Brooke Tonon (eight disposals) and Abbie Ballard (six) again got senior gigs, playing their second and fourth games respectively.

  • Team
  • Carlton
  • Gold Coast

Carlton’s late season surge rolled on, as the Blues rounded out the weekend’s action with a 30-point home win over Gold Coast. Jess Good again played an important role, booting two goals as she rotated through the ruck for seven hitouts. Down back, Paige Trudgeon clunked five marks while Courtney Jones was lively for her 1.2 from 13 touches in attack. 2021 draftee Keeley Sherar also featured, finishing with a half-dozen disposals.

For the Suns, whose finals hopes have now been dashed, number one pick Charlie Rowbottom was again solid with 14 disposals, four tackles and four clearances. Talls Tara Bohanna (12 disposals, four marks, one goal) and Jacqui Dupuy (10 disposals, five hitouts) played their parts, while Victorian recruit Alana Barba made somewhat of a homecoming in her first game since Round 1.

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