AHEAD of the first weekend of an expanded AFLW finals series getting underway tonight, we caught up with some of the players competing in this weekend’s matches and got their thoughts on the weekend’s matches.
ADELAIDE vs MELBOURNE
Tonight kicks off the finals series with a qualifying final at Ikon Park between Melbourne and Adelaide. Dee Libby Birch spoke of how Round 1 was not about any revenge for the Grand Final loss, but more about where their game style sat and if it could match up to the best sides in the competition.
“No I don’t think so” she said.
“I think our Round 1 match against Adelaide was a really important match for us. I guess it was more for us internally to know we can develop our game style to beat a quality side like Adelaide and we’ve never done that before. So I think finals is a different ball game, and Adelaide are a very quality side, and it’s going to be on from the first bounce and we’re really looking forward to it.”
Meanwhile Crow Ailish Considine spoke of how despite losing in Round 1, the Crows took a lot of learnings out of that game.
“They really came out strong in round one and it was a game that we took a lot of learnings from and you know sometimes you learn a lot more from the game that you lose, and they taught us a lot of lessons for the entire season after that game, and they really brought the pressure and they beat us at our own game and it was a brilliant performance by Melbourne,” Considine said. “Obviously we’ve been working hard throughout the season to try to right those wrongs and change and improve as the season’s gone on.”
BRISBANE vs RICHMOND
The other qualifying final is between minor premiers Brisbane, and the only side who had beaten them all this season, Richmond.
Much like in tonight’s qualifying final, tomorrow’s clash is not about revenge according to star forward Zimmorlei Farquharson.
“It’s not really revenge” Farquharson said.
“We want to win of course, but we also have to think about playing our style of football. Richmond really brought it to us, we really not underestimated them but also they just gave it to us when we weren’t ready. Especially coming off the Melbourne game on such a high, and I think that’s not really being in the mentality of we’ve got a next footy game to play.”
On the flipside, Tigers star Monique Conti spoke of how good the Lions are, but noted how good the win over Brisbane was in the context of their season.
“Lions are a really good team and they showed that every single season, especially this season finishing right on top. They’re a really tough competitor and very elite team, so it was good to get that win. It kind of set us up for the rest of the season, but yeah it’ll be a really tough game this weekend and I’m looking forward to it.”
GEELONG vs NORTH MELBOURNE
In the first of the elimination finals it is Geelong hosting North Melbourne, and Cats skipper Meghan McDonald shared what she thought the key had been to Geelong’s improved scoring this season.
“It’s interesting. I know that people are reporting that it’s a switch or that we’ve changed some sort of thing in the game plan, which is really not the case,” McDonald said.
“I mean we had a new coach in Season 6, we tried to limit scores against and then we wanted to take the next step going into Season 7. To expect that to happen magically in Round 1 is probably a bit naïve, but the great reward for us from Season 7 is that we’ve built on week on week on our game plan.
“I look back to when we did play the Roos in Round 4 and so much has changed. We’ve got new personnel in different places, we’ll have a number of different players playing. I could credit it all to Shelley Scott, yes she’s gone forward and it’s gone really well since then, but it’s just the benefit of playing more football together, trusting the system and getting better at it along the way.”
Meanwhile in the Kangaroos’ camp, Nicole Bresnehan does not think the history between the Cats and Roos will play a part this weekend, despite the ledger being solidly in her side’s favour.
“No, I definitely don’t think we’ll look at the history,” Bresnehan said. To be honest the home and away season is finished and there’s a complete focus on finals footy. I think you know we’ve played them a couple of times but I reckon we’ll learn from that and take that on board in finals footy but it’s a very different line up for them [Geelong] coming into this week and similar to us, so I think it’s been really important to focus on this weekend.”
COLLINGWOOD vs. WESTERN BULLDOGS
On Sunday, the Pies host the Bulldogs, and visiting skipper Ellie Blackburn agreed that the way her side had qualified for the finals did give them an added boost of adrenaline heading into their first finals in five seasons.
“Oh absolutely it does,” she said. It was really exciting for us, obviously would have wanted to have won more convincingly and secured a spot in the finals sooner than what we did, but I mean footy has funny ways of working at times, and for us to be in finals the way we are, there’s a lot of excitement around our group at the moment.
“We’re really hyped at the moment and keen to be back playing finals footy. We haven’t been here in a while, so it’s good to be back.”
For Pie Ruby Schleicher, she sees the fact that her side is one of the more experienced finals sides in this year’s race as a bit of a leg-up for her team.
“Definitely (an advantage being experienced), and that’s why I think it’s really good that we’ve played North and Brisbane in the last two weeks because they are two clear finals sides so that does get you ready for that pressure that the top eight teams will bring, but there’s definitely a step up,” Schleicher said.
“I look back at the finals we played in the last couple of years, really tight ones and I think it pulls apart the teams that are able to come back from three goals from behind and get wins at home. I know it’s a cliché but anything can happen in finals and so we’re really excited to see the brand of footy we can put out.”