Season 8 AFLW preview: Hawthorn

HAWTHORN took a little while, but eventually found its feet in Season 7 of the AFL Women’s coming from behind in Round 5 against Sydney at Punt Road to secure a nail-biting four-point win. From there, the Hawks went on to win three in a row – albeit against the other two bottom three sides, but pushed the GIANTS and Dockers in the last two months of the season.

Aside from being blown away by Brisbane, Hawthorn had a plus-14 score differential over their opponents in the last six rounds of the season. It looked shaky early on in the season with heavy losses to St Kilda, Richmond and Western Bulldogs, but with time, the Hawks gelled and will only improve in Season 8.


#1 Tegan Cunningham
#2 Janet Baird
#3 Greta Bodey
#4 Mattea Breed
#5 Jasmine Fleming
#6 Zoe Barbakos
#7 Aileen Gilroy
#8 Tahlia Fellows
#9 Charlotte Baskaran
#10 Kaitlyn Ashmore
#11 Jenna Richardson
#12 Louise Stephenson
#13 Aine McDonagh
#15 Bridget Deed
#16 Ainslie Kemp
#17 Mackenzie Eardley
#18 Tilly Lucas-Rodd
#19 Bridie Hipwell
#20 Laura Elliott
#21 Chloe Locke
#22 Tamara Luke
#23 Sarah Perkins
#24 Tamara Smith
#25 Emily Everist
#26 Casey Dumont
#31 Lucy Wales
#34 Akec Makur Chuot
#39 Emily Bates
#41 Kristy Stratton
#42 Catherine Brown

* inactive list


In: Emily Bates, Greta Bodey, Mattea Breed, Casey Dumont, Kristy Stratton, Tamara Luke (inactive)
Out: Isabelle Porter, Dominique Carbone, Jess Duffin, Kate McCarthy, Eliza Shannon


Round 1: vs. Essendon @ Kinetic Stadium
Round 2: vs. Western Bulldogs @ Mars Stadium
Round 3: vs. Fremantle @ Fremantle Community Bank Oval
Round 4: vs. Melbourne @ Kinetic Stadium
Round 5: vs. Brisbane @ Kinetic Stadium
Round 6: vs. St Kilda @ RSEA Park
Round 7: vs. Sydney @ Henson Park
Round 8: vs. Richmond @ Cazaly’s Stadium
Round 9: vs. Port Adelaide @ Kinetic Stadium
Round 10: vs. Geelong @ GMHBA Stadium


  • Defensive pressure
  • Bolstered by new recruits to address weaknesses
  • Well-coached and well-drilled
  • Key position depth

Hawthorn made its entrance into the AFL Women’s last season, and after some rough losses early, found its feet and was competitive for the remainder of the season. As expected, the side coached by premiership mentor Bec Goddard, was a well-drilled outfit that took it up to the teams around it on the ladder, and beat those in the bottom three.

Defensively, the Hawks were ranked second in the league when it came to tackles, and while simplistically it might have been the fact the opposition had far more of the ball, Hawthorn still had to bring that pressure and energy which it did. If they remain as focused defensively and can get their hands on the ball more in Season 8, the Hawks will be a well-rounded unit.

One of the key positives of the off-season was the dedicated recruitment of height. While Emily Bates was the star recruit and will add to the Hawks’ clearance numbers and natural ball-winning abilities, the brown and gold also poached her teammate Greta Bodey, drafted ruck/forward Mattea Breed, and will regain Tamara Luke from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. They, along with Melbourne Victory goalkeeper crosscoder Casey Dumont – will add considerable height and key position depth to the team.


  • Can they win the ball enough to put up winning scores? (17th for disposals, 16th for goals)
  • Travel three times in the last month

Hawthorn’s question marks remain about how they improve to win more the ball and therefore are able to put winning scores on the board. Bates will definitely help the cause, and with the likes of Jasmine Fleming, Charlotte Baskaran and Tamara Smith rotating with skipper Tilly Lucas-Rodd and Aileen Gilroy, there is talent in there, but it will be a case of if it can all click together and get the job done.

The other tricky aspect of their Season 8 campaign will be the Hawks’ fixture which sees them travel three times in the last four games. Granted, one of them is to Geelong and another is a showcase game up in Cairns, but they still need to hit the road and will not be at Frankston where they have put up some big performances in the second half of Season 7. The trip out west to play Fremantle followed by the two grand finalists at home will also be a tricky stretch for the brown and gold.


Bates is arguably the pick for the best and fairest having been a past winner. She comes to the club knowing it is in a different developmental phase to the Lions, but will add plenty to the midfield there with her experience and talent. Another big call could be Fleming who had a memorable debut season and could attract a lot of votes with Bates copping the opposition’s attention.


Watch for Baskaran to step up further than her impressive debut season as she will enjoy extra freedom as well with Bates’ arrival. She has the talent to play inside or outside, and runs all day, bringing great energy to the team. Baskaran played in all 10 games last season and will be a key player in Hawthorn’s rising youth stokes in Season 8.


Hawthorn will continue to improve across the board and proved plenty of highlights for the neutral observers and Hawks fans alike. Though unlikely to make finals given the Hawks are still a developing team and have a tough draw, they should be more competitive earlier in the season and will still tick over the wins against some of the lower ranked opponents.

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