SATURDAY’S action in the AFLW really had it all, from see-sawing affairs to absolute beltings. Melbourne and Geelong had nice tuneups for the finals with dominant wins over West Coast and Sydney respectively, while Fremantle ultimately prevailed over a gallant Hawthorn, and Adelaide survived a scare against the Saints.
By: Alyce Collett
Melbourne has sent a statement to the rest of the finals bound teams, trouncing West Coast to the tune of 78 points. The Eagles never in the match, as the Demons ran riot and fell just 0.3 per cent short of pinching the minor premiership off Brisbane.
One. Single. Point
Coming into the game, there was a lot of talk about what kind of score Melbourne would need in order to pinch top spot off the Lions.
The final figure was 77 if Melbourne kept West Coast scoreless, with three points added to Melbourne’s target score for every point conceded.
With this in mind, it was no surprise to know that Melbourne supporters were screaming their lungs out at the Dees in the dying seconds to “just kick a point!” when the Dees sat the slimmest of margins off their 80-point target. Unfortunately for the victors, they just ran out of time to do so.
Libby Birch the intercept Queen
One Dee who made it particularly hard for West Coast to get any score on the board was Libby Birch. The defender played arguably her best game in red and blue, finishing with a whopping 11 intercept possessions in a dominant role down back.
A day of milestones and firsts in red and blue
There was plenty to celebrate for the red and blue down at Casey yesterday, not just the fact the team got a massive win.
Firstly, it was certainly a happy 50th game for stalwart Sarah Lampard, while the win over West Coast was the first time the Dees have kept an opposition goalless all game.
There was also a pair of Dees who, after looking like scoring their first ever major for several weeks, finally managed to kick one through the big sticks. Blaithin Mackin and Shelley Heath both popped up to kick the maiden majors of their careers.
Hore proving hard to stop
One Dee who is in a rich vein of form at the moment is vice-captain Kate Hore. The lively forward was again dangerous up forward, booting two goals but also doing plenty without the ball, nailing a whopping nine tackles.
Zanker joins Hore in the scoring fun
Melbourne’s other multiple goalkicker against the Eagles was Eden Zanker, but it was not just her scoring prowess that really shone for the Dees. She once again provided a strong marking target, and even though she has spent much time in the midfield the last few seasons, the past few weeks have shown how much more dangerous she can be as a forward.
By: Elly Kirlis
The Adelaide Crows have punched their top four ticket, after defeating St Kilda by 16 points. With conditions tricky in regard to wind and which team could take advantage, the Saints challenged for a fair chunk of the match but the Crows were able to respond and take control in the third quarter before running out 4.5 (29) to 2.1 (13) victors.
Saintly first half takes it up to the Crows
The Saints’ midfield and forward units challenged the Crows’ defensive end early, not allowing easy possessions and dominating for effort around the footy with terrific two-way pressure. In the second half, the Crows got the game more on their terms, applying the pressure and intensity back on the Saints and thus, scoring more fluently.
Crows find a way
Whilst the Crows will be disappointed with the first half, individuals such as Ash Woodland stepped up in the forward line, sparking the Crows back into the match. Danielle Ponter was at her lively best and Caitlin Gould did the little things well, including having 23 hitouts. The defensive line in the second quarter onwards, with the likes of Zoe Prowse, Chelsea Biddell, Sarah Allan, and Najwa Allen, set up well to intercept, forcing the pressure on the Saints’ forwards and taking control.
Saints can build confidence going forward
Consistency going forward for the Saints will be key going into next season. The likes of Georgia Patrikios, Bianca Jakobsson and Kate Shierlaw have been key for their side all season. The role of Molly McDonald in this match was superb, finishing with 20 disposals to end on a positive note. If the Saints can find the form from the last two to three weeks and maintain it going into Season 8, there should be continued improvement from Nick Dal Santo‘s side.
By Elly Kirlis
Geelong made a statement on the eve of finals, defeating Sydney by 75 points. The Cats kicked the first four goals of the match, were switched on in their contested ball movement, and delivered a fast-paced tempo to set the up the victory. Whilst the Swans challenged late in the first quarter, the Cats continued to apply the defensive pressure and put the game away quickly.
Geelong looks dangerous going into finals
The Cats’ midfield unit worked well with the forwards against a lowly Sydney, able to use quick ball movement, communication and knowing each others’ roles. If the Cats can find that dominance and get that quicker ball movement and efficiency inside the forward 50 come finals, they will be tough to beat.
Cats stars impressive
Whilst Nina Morrison, Amy McDonald and Georgie Prespakis were superb as usual, the likes of Olivia Fuller also really stepped up. Her work ethic was unstoppable, finishing with 14 disposals, 13 hitouts and doing the one-percenters which were pleasing to watch. The Cats’ talls in Jacqueline Parry and Kate Darby were a workforce, creating headaches for the Swans with their pressure.
Swans should be proud of maiden campaign
Whilst the Swans will be disappointed with the margin blowout in the end, they certainly have positives to build going forward in season two of their club’s history. One improvement the Swans will be hoping to fix is decision making with the footy, with the Cats’ pressure forcing the Swans into turnover ball.
Cynthia Hamilton‘s run towards the ball was a shining light, as well as Sofia Hurley’s work rate and role on the wing, using her speed dash down the middle. The Swans have had a their moments, getting little wins and not giving up on the fight. Thus, they should be proud, despite the ladder position, of what they’ve accomplished and they can only get better as a club ahead of Season 8.
By: Michael Alvaro
Fremantle has climbed to 10th spot with a five-point win over Hawthorn on home turf. With the wind blowing strongly one way at Fremantle Oval, the Hawks made a better start and led by 11 points at the final break, but Freo peppered the goals to come away 7.7 (49) to 7.2 (44) victors, as a couple of AFLW greats were farewelled in the dead rubber game.
Retirees turn back the clock
With both sides out of the finals race, this game was as much about sending off Kara Antonio and Jess Duffin fittingly as it was about the result. Both players turned back the clock, employed inside their respective attacking 50s and booting two goals apiece. Duffin started in a blaze of glory, snaring the game’s first three scores before seeing out her career with the day’s final goal. Antonio’s contribution was just as important, snaring a major against the wind in term three and then putting the Dockers ahead in the last quarter. Are they sure they won’t be able to go around one more time?
Having gone goalless over the last three weeks, there would be no stopping Aine Tighe on Saturday evening. The dextrous tall forward was superb both in the air and at ground level, proving the spark Fremantle needed to get back in the game and run over the top. She made it a Tighe’d ball game in term two with consecutive goals, before snaring the first major of term four and assisting Antonio shortly after to snatch the lead. Her 50-metre bomb, and fourth goal, put the cherry on top of a terrific win – though, Jenna Richardson may want her effort to touch it over back.
Tackling on Turbo mode
Having nailed a career-high 20 tackles last time out against Sydney, Kiara Bowers hit new heights in said department. The hard-nosed Fremantle midfielder broke new ground with a new league record of 22 tackles, surpassing Ebony Marinoff and Cathy Svarc‘s respective efforts of 21. Her achievement was indicative of the scrappy contest, which pitted the two top tackling sides against each other. Freo came out on top in the end both in the match and overall, laying 74 to Hawthorn’s 64 for a season average of 74.4.