Footy and the AFLW returned this weekend, with plenty of great performances across the board.
But while the stars of the game were heaped were praise, who flew under the radar? The Inner Sanctum takes a look at the underrated performers for each game of week one.
St Kilda vs Richmond: Tarni White
She has one of the brightest futures amongst AFLW players, and on Friday night she showed why. In a new role in midfield she got in the thick of it despite the loss to the Tigers.
At the end of the night she collected 14 disposals, with nine of those contested. As well as kicking a superb first goal of the season and her career, she remarkably collected 11 tackles, eclipsing her previous best of seven.
White is set to play a major role in 2022 with the likes of Georgie Patrikios and Tyanna Smith out for the whole season. And down in Frankston, it was the perfect way to start her second season off.
North Melbourne vs Geelong: Madeline Keryk
One of the senior figures of a young Geelong side kicked off her season beautifully in a tight loss to a much stronger Kangaroos side.Embed from Getty Images
The ex-Blue played a key role in a resilient Cats defence at Arden Street. Acquiring 14 disposals, Keryk provided a bit of a dash off half back, getting nine kicks away as well as 257 metres gained.
Despite the loss and the Cats fading away late, she still put up a fight for them down back and she’ll continue to play a big role for them in 2022.
Western Bulldogs vs Melbourne: Elle Bennetts
The talented and experienced Bennetts is consistently and quietly a good performer on any stage. On Saturday night it was a similar performance for the ex-Giant in the Dogs’ loss to the Demons
Debuting for the Bulldogs on a half-back flank and pushing up to a wing, she consistently provided run and dash. At the end of the night she collected 12 disposals, also having eight contested possessions, a career-high six tackles, and 218 metres gained.Embed from Getty Images
The 32-year-old is a handy inclusion for the Dogs in 2022 and will play a big role for them on the outside. She got off to a great start to life in blue, red and white.
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Fremantle vs West Coast: Gabby O’Sullivan
She’s one of Fremantle’s most consistent performers week in, week out, and she yet again performed in the Dockers fourth Western Derby victory.Embed from Getty Images
The talented midfielder-forward has been a mainstay in the Dockers side since 2017, and she yet again put together a solid performance. Had 17 disposals in the win, with nine contested, as well as a final quarter goal and a career high 348 metres gained.
O’Sullivan is set to be a key player and leader for the Dockers in 2022, especially in their upcoming hiatus from Western Australia. She looks to already be thriving with added midfield minutes.
Adelaide vs Brisbane: Rachelle Martin
Entering her third season this year, the 22-year-old Martin could be set for a big 2022. And on Sunday afternoon, Martin kicked off her season in a quiet yet perfect fashion.
The midfielder-forward put together one of her best performances to date at Flinders University Stadium. She collected 14 disposals on the day, adding three clearances and a final quarter goal.Embed from Getty Images
It was the perfect way to start the season for the young Crow, who’ll be looking to continue that form and play more consistently this season.
Carlton vs Collingwood: Abbie McKay
The daughter of Carlton great Andrew shone for the Blue girls in a rough loss to their arch rivals. Still young and with plenty of potential, McKay showed her worth as well as her versatility at Ikon Park.
Forced to play a bigger role in midfield following an injury to Grace Egan, she stepped up in a big way. McKay finished the game with 13 disposals, four clearances, three tackles, and her first career AFLW goal.
Whilst Egan may return shortly, the ex-second round pick will still play a massive role for the young Blues in season 2022 no matter what.
Gold Coast vs GWS: Rebecca Beeson
She’s been a consistent performer from the beginning for the Giants. And on Sunday evening, Beeson yet again put together another overlooked performance in midfield.Embed from Getty Images
Playing with the likes of Alice Eva and Alyce Parker again, as well as new recruits Katie Loynes and Chloe Dalton, she collected 16 disposals in Mackay. Beeson also added five clearances, four tackles, four marks and the first goal of the contest.
It could be a quietly consistent season for Beeson due to the Giants strong midfield. But with Dalton going down with a suspected shoulder injury, she could play a much larger role in weeks to come.
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