AFLW Season 7: Round 9 Talking Points – Top 4 race gets a shake up
SATURDAY’s action in the AFLW saw a bit of a shake up in the race for the top four, as well as the race for the last few spots in the top 8.
North Melbourne caused a bit of an upset with a solid win over Collingwood, while Sydney fought hard but could not pinch an inaugural win against Fremantle. The Bulldogs picked up a crucial win against West Coast, while Brisbane flexed its muscles with an easy win over Hawthorn.
By Alyce Collett
North Melbourne have made a serious dent in Collingwood’s top two hopes, after defeating the Magpies by 32 points. Strong second and fourth quarters from the visitors set up the win, as they kicked away to record the comfortable win.
Neither side made the most of their early inside 50s
Both sides only managed one goal in the opening term (with North managing one goal one), but it was not of lack of opportunities. North had 10 inside 50s in the opening quarter and the Pies had seven of their own, but thanks to some resolute defending neither side could really get it inside 30 to have a proper shot at scoring.
Scoring was really a team effort from the Roos
Not only did North score nine goals in the win, but coach Darren Crocker and his team will be pleased with how many different goal scorers got on the board. There were seven individual goal kickers for the Roos against the Pies, with only Charli Granville and Tahlia Randall kicking more than one.
North talls took full flight
After Collingwood lost several key players to injury, North’s tall forwards in Randall and Emma King really capitalised and did some real damage. They created tall targets for their team, and created plenty of scoring opportunities, all the while not having to deal with the likes of Ash Brazill and Ruby Schleicher.
Usual suspects stood up for North, but they had some extra help
Many of the usual suspects for the Kangaroos, including Jasmine Garner (27 touches, three tackles) and Ash Riddell (25 touches, five tackles) had great games, but they had help from some younger stars stepping up. Both Brooke Brown (19 touches) and Mia King (21 touches, five tackles) had great games, and really stepped up to ensure North got the win.
Choch proving age is just a number
Despite the frustrating result, Collingwood captain Steph Chiocci certainly played a captain’s game, and her run and speed proving that age really is just a number. Her 15 touches and a goal, in partnership with Chloe Molloy (20 touches, five tackles and a goal), were a few shining lights for the vanquished side.
By Alyce Collett
Fremantle secured its second win of the year after defeating Sydney by 14 points. Despite a strong start by the Swans and an even arm wrestle between the sides early, the Dockers proved too strong in the end, winning 6.6 (42) to 4.4 (28).
The stats tell the story of an even affair
The final stats reveal a close, hard fought affair that played out on the pitch. Fremantle was only plus-44 in disposals, plus-3 in clearances and plus-6 in inside 50s. The Dockers did comfortably win the tackle count by 22 though.
Welcome back Ebony Antonio!
Back in for her first game of the season and also playing her 50th match, Ebony Antonio returned with a bang and proved why she has been such a huge out for her side all season. She finished with 15 touches, a major and was a huge influence through the midfield for her team.
Miller magic partners with ballistic Bowers
Speaking of influential midfielders, it is hard to go past the influence of Hayley Miller and Kiara Bowers. Miller finished with 27 touches, four tackles and a goal, while Bowers finished with 19 touches and a whopping 20 tackles.
Runnalls really steps up
Alongside those usual suspects for Fremantle who really stood up today was Airlie Runnalls. Finishing with the 26 touches, she really was a presence through the midfield and provided quite a bit of attacking drive.
Youth the shining light for the Swans
Some of the youngest Swans, namely two midfielders named Montana Ham and Sofia Hurley, really stood up for the Swans in what was another frustrating game. Hurley finished with 15 touches and a goal, while Ham finished with 13 touches and a major.
By Peter Williams
The Western Bulldogs put themselves in the box seat for a top eight spot after a 32-point victory over West Coast at Mineral Resources Park. The Dogs withstood early pressure from the Eagles to hold them goalless at half-time, and finished off strongly with five goals to three in the second half to win, 8.7 (55) to 3.5 (23).
Dogged visitors bring the heat
Western Bulldogs coach Nathan Burke knew that a side like West Coast – not able to get in the finals – had nothing to lose and was able to play more freely, and with plenty of pressure. The Dogs looked a little shaky early stages of the first term, but withstood the Eagles’ pressure to slot three goals. In the end, the Bulldogs piled on 61 tackles to 37, a remarkable effort give they dominated possession for the majority of the game.
Who let the Dogs out?
The last thing any team wants to do is allow the Western Bulldogs to control the inside to release to the outside, and unfortunately for the Eagles, the Bulldogs won both these areas. The visitors had a plus-13 in contested possession and, as expected, a plus-32 in uncontested possession, taking control of the space around the ground. With a narrow win in the clearances (24-20) leading to a comprehensive inside 50 count differential (plus-14), the Dogs walked away happy.
My heart will go on … for 100m
It is not too often that back-to-back 50m penalties get paid, but that was the case in the dying stages of the third term. Western Bulldogs ruck/forward Celine Moody was pinged for holding the ball in the tackle and suggested to the umpire she not only handballed it, but that perhaps they should open their eyes. After the 50m penalty was paid and Moody was headed to the interchange, she turned to the umpire to leave another suggestion of her distaste and the umpire duly paid another 50m penalty. That handed Isabella Lewis the Eagles’ first goal of the game, cutting the deficit to 23 points.
McLeod’s rotten luck
In what was meant to be the feel-good story of the day, Kirsten McLeod returned for the first time in the year back from ongoing affects of concussion. The experienced forward was only out there a few minutes before opponent Jessica Sedunary laid a tackle on her and unfortunately McLeod’s ankle was caught underneath. It meant she was taken from the ground and off to hospital, with Burke describing the game as “cruel” but he was relieved that it was an ankle, rather than another concussion.
Young stars stand up for both sides
Though it was the mature-heads who largely steered the ship for the Western Bulldogs, the likes of Isabelle Pritchard and Sarah Hartwig really stood up. Pritchard had another 18-disposal game, while Hartwig – in her new forward position late in this season – slotted two majors, both of which were pretty classy finishes. For the Eagles, Lewis continues to defy her age to be among the better onballers in the competition, while Jaide Britton matched her season-high 13 touches, as the likes of Courtney Rowley, Charlotte Thomas and Ella Roberts all had their fair share of the ball showing a talented core at the blue and gold.
By Peter Williams
In a match between the premiership favourites and one of the expansion sides, it went about as many expected with Brisbane controlling play for the most part in a 54-point victory over Hawthorn in Frankston. The Hawks were gallant after quarter time, particularly in the second term to break even with the Lions, but the ladder leaders were just too strong, recording a 9.7 (61) to 1.1 (7) victory.
Lions roar from the start
Hawthorn has arguably played above expectations this season, going on a three-game winning streak, but the Lions reminded the young side of the level to be at when you’re a premiership contender. Brisbane had 103 more disposals (265-162), disposed of the ball far more efficiently (59-43 per cent), had 24 more inside 50s (39-15), 19 more marks (45-26) and still laid 13 more tackles (72-59) in a complete performance.
Sides focus on defensive aspects
Speaking post-game, both coaches were looking to try and limit the opposition’s ability to get free and score, for very different reasons. For Brisbane, coach Craig Starcevich said his side was very aware of the tightness at the top of the ladder, and made no qualms about finishing in the minor premier position. The goal of the team was to limit the scoring of the opposition – the best chance of reducing percentage – which he was pleased with in the match. Hawks coach Bec Goddard wanted to limit the Lions’ overlap handball coming from stoppages, which she was happy with in the second term, and the brown and gold did not allow another four goals in a quarter like the first quarter.
Wardlaw seals leading goalkicker award
Booting another three goals in the win over Hawthorn, Jesse Wardlaw ultimately secured the leading goalkicker award for Season 7. The three majors put her up to 17 for the season – an average of 2.1 – a remarkable effort given she missed the loss against the Tigers. Barring one of Kate Hore or Courtney Wakefield kicking a couple of bags in the last fortnight – both are six goals behind – Wardlaw will lift up the trophy.
Ally Anderson stars in win
Lions midfielder Ally Anderson played a complete game, racking up a whopping 31 touches – nine more than anyone else on the field – and had 10 clearances. She also laid three tackles, had five score involvements and five inside 50s, went at over 50 per cent contested and for her disposal efficiency, while racking up 393 metres gained.
Hawk wings fly defensively
Hawthorn’s two biggest interceptors in the match were wingers Akec Makur Chuot and Kaitlyn Ashmore, who had nine and seven intercept possessions respectively. Though their disposal efficiency was low, they provided that extra number behind the play, and for Makur Chuot, she also provided plenty of run. Racking up 361 metres gained along with 17 disposals and four clearances, she was one of the Hawks’ best and provided plenty of dare on the outside.