AS Melbourne chalked up its fifth win of the season on the weekend, accounting for Fremantle, one of the stars of that match was Tyla Hanks. The Melbourne midfielder was a woman on a mission from the very first ball up, and this week’s Player Focus seeks to take a deeper dive into the star onballer’s performance.
AFLW Season 7: Round 6 – Melbourne 10.6 (66) def. Fremantle 5.6 (36)
Player Focus: Tyla Hanks (Melbourne)
Stats: 22 disposals, 6 tackles, 5 clearances and 3 marks
Hanks started the game as she intended to go on. Although Kiara Bowers got the first touch of the game, Hanks ensured she was not going to go far with it as the Freo midfielder ran straight into a Hanks’ tackle as she exited the centre circle.
She was crashing packs from the get go, but unfortunately for Hanks the first time she crashed through one she clipped Hayley Miller high, and gave away a free kick in the process.
She then gave another free kick away for holding the ball, before pulling off ultimately one of her best moves of the quarter later on.
At the very next centre clearance, her ability to position herself correctly saw the ball up tapped straight down her throat. Unfortunately for Hanks though, she was wrapped up straight away by Bowers so could not do much with that advantage.
On multiple occasions during the quarter she and Olivia Purcell worked in tandem to get the clearance out of the stoppage for their team.
She also set up inside 50s more than once during the quarter.
As the second quarter progressed and Melbourne started to gain some momentum, Hanks continued to play an important role in that.
She was laying tackles within 10 seconds of the beginning of the quarter, and would lay several more as the period progressed.
She also set up a number of forward 50 entries, whether it was handballing to the likes of Lily Mithen who then kicked it in, or receiving a handball from someone and Hanks would be the one that kicks it in.
Something else that happened on a number of occasions was Hanks intercepting kicks out of Melbourne’s forward 50.
Her running capabilities was on full display during the quarter too, with multiple non-stop runs from one end to the other end of the ground, and in one particular instant she kept running into defence to help Libby Birch and give her a handball outlet.
As things evened up in the third term, Hanks did not have as much of an impact as she had had in the first half but still certainly had an impact.
After a couple of missed clearance opportunities, her first real impact in the quarter was a kick up the wing, which kicked off a passage of play that resulted in an inside 50 for the Dees.
There was one passage of play where her 157cm stature was certainly her enemy, when she was the target of a kick inside the corridor from a team mate, but could not mark it because she was not tall enough.
Later in the quarter she did manage to help create a clearance for the Dees, when she handballed to Purcell who was the one to ultimately clear the ball out of the centre.
As Melbourne put its foot down and wrestled back momentum, Hanks really developed a partnership with Purcell, with the pair working in tandem to move Melbourne forward.
Hanks proved to be a valuable asset at both ends during the quarter, providing an option to Birch kicking out after a behind while also kicking inside 50 that resulted in a goal to Sabreena Duffy later in the quarter.
Her only blimp for the term was a free kick she gave away for holding while she was tackling a Docker.