THE FINAL home-and-away round of the 2022 AFL Women’s season wrapped up on Sunday, with three games filling the day and settling the league’s top six order. We discuss all the key talking points out of Adelaide’s minor premiership clinching win, Brisbane’s dismantling of the Western Bulldogs, and Fremantle’s confidence-boosting result.
By: Alyce Collett
Adelaide has sent another ominous warning to the rest of the competition, defeating St Kilda 7.11 (53) to 2.2 (14) to kick off Sunday’s proceedings. The Crows had a bit of a slow start, but kicked away in the second term and never looked back. This win secures the Crows a second consecutive minor premiership, and the week off next weekend.
Strong breeze causes quite the scoring disparity
There was quite a gust down one particular end of Moorabbin during the match, which caused quite the goal disparity between the two ends.
Of the nine goals that were kicked during the match, seven of them were kicked up the Linton Street end of the ground.
Woodland wins goalkicking award
Coming into the match, Ashleigh Woodland only needed two goals to top the league’s goalkicking charts for this season. Two goals is what she kicked, so she topped off a stellar season in front of goals with the award.
Randall fits seamlessly back into the Adelaide lineup
Back in the Adelaide lineup for the first time since round 2, Adelaide skipper Chelsea Randall fitted seamlessly back into the Adelaide fray and it looked like she hadn’t missed a match, let alone seven.
This is an ominous warning for the rest of the competition as we head into the pointy end of the season that someone as talented as Randall only adds to Adelaide’s scary depth, even after having so much time out.
Adelaide secures top spot
With this win, Adelaide has secured top spot on the ladder. This means they are straight through to a Preliminary Final and have a week off next weekend.
There was a chance that it was going to come down to percentage as to whether Adelaide or Melbourne would finish top, but Adelaide’s dominance against the Saints ensured that was not going to be a problem.
A difficult campaign for the Saints comes to an end
To say that the season six campaign for St Kilda was tricky would be an understatement.
Although they have showed glimpses of their potential this season, it was always going to be a difficult season for the Saints when you factor in that it was the first season under a new coach, and they were missing two of their best midfielders.
Regardless, they have shown glimpses of what they’re capable of this season, so as much as Saints fans will be frustrated with this season, they can also be proud of their team.
Both teams will have their feet up next week, but for much different reasons. While St Kilda’s season has ended, Adelaide has earned a finals bye having claimed the minor premiership and will return to action in week two of the postseason. The Crows will meet the winner of North Melbourne and Fremantle in the first preliminary final.
By: Michael Alvaro
Brisbane kicked away from a willing Western Bulldogs outfit after half time, securing a 32-point victory at Mars Stadium on the eve of finals. After absorbing some early pressure, the Lions lead by two goals at the first break, but had that margin cut to one at half time. Their speed in transition proved too much thereafter, as the visitors kicked five of the last six goals to win 10.6 (66) to 5.4 (34), locking in third place.
Brisbane spoils Bulldogs’ Berry sweet start
Things were looking good for the Western Bulldogs in the first 10 minutes, as Deanna Berry put them on the board first and they dominated territory with the first seven unanswered inside 50s. At quarter time, they found themselves two goals down as the inside 50 count adjusted to 10-9 in Brisbane’s favour. The Lions showed their class, making the most of their attacking entries to score on 60 per cent of them. Most importantly, half of those scores were majors, setting the wheels in motion for Brisbane.
Orla O’ so damaging
It is no secret that Orla O’Dwyer can play, but she displayed once more just how damaging she can be forward of centre. Streaming away with her pace and smarts, the Irishwoman bagged two goals in the first half, and her defensive pressure lead to another. She is able to work both ways off the wing and in three impactful moments, helped Brisbane kick clear of the dangerous Dogs.
Bulldogs bite, but Lions roar
Having not capitalised on their early momentum, the Western Bulldogs showed great fight to stay in the contest to half time. Kicking three goals to two in the second quarter, the hosts trimmed the margin back to a single goal and gave themselves a real sniff at the main break. Richelle Cranston‘s goals in terms two and three just kept her side within touching distance, but alas, the comeback was not to be. Looking at the numbers, the Bulldogs controlled much more uncontested ball – 46 marks to 14, 102 uncontested possessions to 73 – but were simply beaten on the break (see below).
Brisbane’s breakneck footy begins Bulldogs beatdown
Brisbane was irresistible in the second half, clicking into gear and beating the Bulldogs out the back time and time again. The Lions set up well defensively and were able to use their leg speed in several slingshot transitions, with the likes of O’Dwyer, Greta Bodey and Courtney Hodder repeatedly the key links in each chain. particular highlight was Hodder’s goal in term four, which saw her wax with Bodey and Jesse Wardlaw in a sensational running passage. Speed kills.
Battle of the titans
Fans were treated to a brilliant battle between two of the competition’s hardest midfielders, in Brisbane’s Catherine Svarc and the Bulldogs’ Kirsty Lamb. While Svarc won the clearance count (4-3), Lamb had more disposals (12-8) and got first hands to the ball at many a stoppage. The only problem was that she had Svarc sweating on her every move, as the Lions gun laid a whopping 10 tackles – most of them on Lamb. The latter had a case for many free kicks throughout the match, but kept on riding the bumps in a spirited effort against stiff opposition.
While the Western Bulldogs finish their season a game and a half outside of the top six, Brisbane’s campaign rolls on next week in a home qualifying final bout against Collingwood at the Gabba on Saturday evening.
By: Peter Williams
Fremantle gave Gold Coast the old ‘heave ho’ in the final round of the season to secure fifth spot on the AFL Women’s ladder, and head to Melbourne instead of Brisbane. The Dockers held the Suns goalless and slammed home four last quarter goals to run out 37-point winners, 7.4 (46) to 0.9 (9).
Fremantle marginally misses out on home final
The Dockers have been no stranger to doing things the hard way, and they will have to do it again if they are to triumph in the AFL Women’s this year. The purple side out west will head east for the remaining few weeks, falling narrowly short of the goal to make up 16.5 per cent and play at home against North Melbourne. Though the Dockers did avoid travelling to play reigning premiers Brisbane up first, they will now head to Arden Street instead.
It did become mighty close in terms of percentage, with the Dockers falling just two goals short of that home semi-final. Fremantle had a chance in the final minute when Roxanne Roux was running into goal 20m out but she was tackled, ending any hope of getting the home final. Now the Dockers will on the Roos, and if they win that, they will face Melbourne, the side that smashed them by over 100 points. This time though, Fremantle would have its strongest possible side in.
Dockers run away with final term domination
After an impressive game to-date, the Dockers really stepped it up in the final term, stuffing out hope of any Suns fightback. Leading by 13 points at the final break, though the home team had kept the Suns to just eight behinds throughout the contest, the visitors had produced two more scoring shots, and an early goal would have had the reigning wooden spooners and one of the most improved AFLW teams this season in the hunt.
Instead, Fremantle put the foot down in the final stanza, with second-gamer Sarah Wielstra kicking her first AFL Women’s goal, followed by the returning Ebony Antonio. By that stage the lead was already out to a game-high 26 points, but captain Hayley Miller, and then key forward Gemma Houghton capped off the performance with late majors just putting an exclamation mark on the win.
Bad kicking is bad football
It is an often-used adage in Australian rules football, but it held true once again. The Suns have plenty of potential, with some experienced, mature-heads supporting an otherwise young team, and they will learn from the match. Unfortunately on this occasions, the Suns had four more inside 50s and 10 less disposals, but could not make the most of their chances in their forward half.
They kicked eight behinds in the first three quarters – nine overall – and ran at 55.6 per cent disposal efficiency, compared to that of the Dockers’ 62.8 per cent. Adding to the fact the Suns actually had 28 inside 50s to 24, won the hitouts (32-18) and centre clearances (7-4), and they were really in the contest around the ball. If the Suns had converted a few more of their chances, then the result could have been difference.
Dockers pressure sky high
Fremantle is known for his tackling pressure, but it is still hard to fathom how the side that had more disposals and won by the amount the home team did, could lay almost double the amount of tackles that their opponents did. Fremantle produced 87 tackles to 45 (14 more than the Dockers’ season average), including 16-5 inside forward 50. Unsurprisingly, tackle machine Kiara Bowers produced 17 herself – just under a third of the entire Suns team – with Gabby O’Sullivan (eight) the next most.
O’Sullivan also laid two tackles inside forward 50, bringing the heat with first year talent Dana East who laid three of her seven total tackles in the forward 50. Wielstra and Mikayla Hyde also laid two of their three tackles inside 50, showing they had bought into the system, with Laura Pugh (seven tackles) bringing the heat in the defensive 50.
Suns contested ball-winning a tick
Fremantle have a hardened midfield unit and many would have expected the Dockers to overpower the Suns at the coalface. Though the Dockers did marginally win the stoppage clearances, they lost the centre clearances, and that was full credit to the Gold Coast midfield. Impressively, the Suns won the contested ball, which lead to the Dockers having to immediately bring the heat through tackling, with the likes of Alison Drennan burrowing in all game.
Drennan ended up with a match-high 21 contested possessions, whilst also having three clearances. Last year’s number on draft pick Charlie Rowbottom had 10 contested possessions, three clearances and five tackles, whilst Claudia Whitfort (nine contested possessions, three clearances) was also consistent throughout the match.
Fremantle heads to Arden Street to take on North Melbourne on Saturday afternoon from 2:10pm, whilst for Gold Coast, the loss marked the end of the road for 2022, but a campaign that first year coach Cam Joyce can be pleased about.