21/02/2024

The Western Bulldog's Rylie Wilcox celebrates following her debut in round one. (Image: @BulldogsW / Twitter).

Round One in the AFLW competition delivered a number of stellar performances from both club and league debutants across the 18 clubs.

The Inner Sanctum took a look at who your club unveiled as an AFLW debutant, and how they fared during the much anticipated opening of season seven.

No AFLW debutants.

No AFLW debutants.

Mia Austin

Surprising many with a Round 1 debut, Eastern Ranges product Mia Austin was given the opportunity to play as a marking target alongside Phoebe McWilliams and Darcy Vescio in Carlton’s forwardline.

She showed just why she was selected, kicking both her first goal and the first of the season after taking a strong contested mark.

Austin didn’t have much opportunity from then onwards, as Collingwood locked the ball in its front half for most of the game. Carlton had just six inside 50s in the first half, and 18 overall.

But with her three marks, she looks to be the big, contested, pack marker that the Blues have been crying out for since Tayla Harris departed the club at the end of 2021.

Alex Catalano

Imogen Evans

Despite finishing with just eight disposals, Imogen Evans made every single one of them count on debut. A high pressure, high intensity player, the Queenslander was one of the standouts in the first half.

Adapting to life without Bri Davey and Brit Bonnici for Season Seven, coach Steve Symonds had to modify the Pies’ gameplan away from a dominant contested style out of the middle.

While Evans did attend seven centre bounces, some of her best work was done inside forward 50, in tandem with Eliza James. She laid a massive seven tackles on debut, and snapped truly with a beautiful crumbing effort for her first AFLW goal.

Alex Catalano

Paige Scott

Scott was taken at Pick 8 in the 2022 AFLW draft and from what she’d shown playing for the GWVR (Greater Western Victoria Rebels), she’d be a key component of the Bombers first AFLW season. 

In her AFLW debut, Scott was among the best for Essendon finishing the game with 16 disposals, 10 kicks and a goal. Throughout the game her ability to play with that element of class and composure in her first game was a highlight. 

Scott’s performance against the Hawks earned her the Round One Rising Star nomination alongside Port Adelaide’s Abbey Dowrick. 

Stephanie Wales

Another pick up from the draft for Essendon, the Casey Demons product was strong in her AFLW debut. 

Going head to head with her sister Lucy in the ruck for most of the game, she was a strong asset to the Bombers side. Wales ended up with 12 hit outs in her debut game drawing level with her sister, Wales went on to add four disposals, two kicks and two handballs to her debut performance. 

Amber Clarke

Making history as the Bombers ever selection in an AFLW draft, the Dandenong stingrays product was impressive in her AFLW debut.

Starting in the forward line, Clarke worked well with the likes of co-captain Bonnie Toogood and fellow debutant Federica Frew and was involved in some great passages of play. Clarke finished the match with seven disposals, five kicks and two marks and provided a good target around the ground for Essendon. 

Amelia Radford

A late pick in the AFLW draft after a strong campaign with Essendon’s VFLW team, Radford was strong  in her AFLW debut. Winning plenty of ball for the Bombers, Radford finished on nine disposals and one mark. She also brought that element of ferocity around the contest, finishing the match with two tackles. 

Mia Van Dyke

Van Dyke was another Bomber who found her way to Tullamarine via the draft after spending time playing for Geelong in the VFLW.

While it was a quiet game from a numbers point of view Van Dyke (three disposals) she showed plenty of promise and with a few more games under her belt, she’s sure to provide a key option to the Bombers side going forward.

Ashleigh Van Loon

Geelong Falcons player Ashleigh van Loon made her way to the Bombers via the AFLW draft. She showed her tenacity around the contest in her AFLW debut on Saturday night. 

Finishing with four tackles, Van Loon was strong in her ability to get possession for her team or simply just stop Hawthorn from getting the ball out of the contest. Van Loon won plenty of the footy herself, finishing with nine disposals, five kicks and one mark. 

Federica Frew

Federica Frew joined the Bombers as an open age signing after a strong VFLW campaign with Essendon. Frew proved to be dangerous up forward for most of the match and while she couldn’t slot a major, Frew got a few looks at goal finishing the game on two behinds. Frew worked well with the forward line, proving that it’s going to be a strong combination going forward.  Along with the two behinds, Frew had four disposals and a mark. 

Elly McNerney

Megan Kauffman

Formerly a tennis prodigy in the US, the 25-year-old made the switch to football before being picked up as Fremantle’s pick 77. Kauffman put herself on the board when she made her debut in round one. 

Whilst the loss would have been less than ideal for the Dockers, Kauffman has shown a glimpse of what she can do. After gaining possession from teammate Amy Franklin’s pass, Kauffman capped off her AFLW debut with a goal. The Fremantle debutant also made two marks and nine disposals on Sunday. 

Whilst having limited experience with football, Kauffman was involved in the defensive pressure, making two tackles during the game. 

Madeline Scanlon

Fremantle’s top pick Madeleine Scanlon had a quiet debut in her side’s game against Brisbane. Whilst she remained goalless in the time she was on the field for, Scanlon still contributed in the 49-point loss. Her debut consisted of six disposals, a mark and two tackles. Whilst she might have had a limited impact during the game, there’s still the rest of the season for the 21-year-old to take her game to the next level. 

Amy Mulholland

The Irish Mulholland had a limited amount of time to learn the basics of the game, however she found herself making her debut in round one. 

One of three Irish players on Fremantle’s list, she delivered a clean shot at goal. Mulholland also had five disposals, one mark and made one tackle. 

Orlagh Lally

The fourth and final debutant for Fremantle was 20-year-old Orlagh Lally. Like a few of the Fremantle women, Lally also had a bit of a quiet debut. Her afternoon consisted of two handballs, six disposals, one mark and two tackles. 

Ashleigh Matosevic

Mia Skinner

With both teams using a defence first strategem, supply and space was always going to be an issue in the forward lines. Skinner, playing medium-forward, managed just the two touches and a mark during the contest.

The 21-year-old is finally injury-free and looking to make an impact for the Cats after a productive VFLW season.

Gordon Goodenough

Claire Ransom

One of Tasmania’s top recruits was unveiled in Gold Coast’s match against North Melbourne.

After Ransom caught the attention of recruiters whilst playing with the Tasmanian Devils, the nineteen-year-old now made her long awaited debut on the big stage.

The midfielder had a quiet night during her debut, with a performance that consisted of four disposals and one mark. Whilst she might of had a limited impact for her side in the 26-point loss, there is still plenty of time for her to take the next step.

Georgia Clayden

The 27-year-old recruit in Clayden may not of had the dream debut by the end of the fourth quarter however it was another quiet night for a rising sun who is showing a lot of development that will come to the fore in the upcoming matches.

Clayden is a cross-coder of sports, and was tied to a total of four sports including netball and volleyball.

Given that Clayden has had success in other sport codes, it’s likely that the first-year player may need a bit of time development before we see her truly shine in the AFLW.

Jasmyn Smith

A Suns Academy alumni, the eighteen-year-old was another Gold Coast player that made her start in the league during round one.

She contributed nicely during the match with a performance that consisted of seven disposals, three tackles and one clearance.

Ashleigh Matosevic

Cambridge McCormick

Drafted to the Giants as ruck support for Fleur Davies, McCormick was thrown into the deep end when Davies was ruled out of AFLW Season Seven, leaving her to ruck alone on debut. 

But if her first game for the Giants was any indication, she may not struggle with the massive responsibility. 

McCormick had 18 hitouts for the day, and gradually worked her way into contributing around the field with nine disposals, four tackles and getting her first score in AFLW, a more than serviceable debut. 

Madison Brazendale

The Tasmanian Brazendale had a solid debut for the Giants with 11 disposals and four tackles.

Brazendale used her speed to full advantage throughout the day,  and will no doubt grow even further with extra opportunities throughout AFLW season seven.  

Thomas Grattan

Dominique Carbone

Having spent the majority of the night in the forward line, Darwin-born Dominique Carbone was lively at ground level. The 20-year-old collected nine disposals and laid three tackles, also offering the footy public glimpses of her strength and ability to break tackles.

More midfield minutes may be on the cards as the season progresses. 

Jasmine Fleming

From the moment the opening siren sounded on Saturday night, Jasmine Fleming was in the thick of the action. The second pick from the 2022 AFLW Draft generated Hawthorn’s first two inside 50 entries, showcasing her speed and ball-winning capabilities.

Fleming accumulated seven disposals across the first half, ultimately finishing the night with 12 disposals (including 11 kicks) and three clearances to her name. 

The 17-year-old certainly didn’t look out of place at AFLW level, matching the physicality of some of her more experienced opponents, including Essendon’s Maddy Prespakis. 

Hawks fans should enjoy watching Fleming run out in the brown and gold in the years to come. 

Zoe Barbakos

Sandringham Dragons product Zoe Barbakos had a night to remember at Marvel Stadium, kicking two goals in what was an impactful performance. 

Barbakos showed terrific skill to turn her opponent inside out and kick her first ever AFLW goal during the second term. She then booted another major in the third quarter, finishing the night with six disposals and as Hawthorn’s only multiple goal-kicker.

The 18-year-old displayed her nous around goal and should gain plenty of confidence from her first taste of AFLW football.

Tahlia Fellows

Medium-sized forward Tahlia Fellows struggled to have much of an impact against the Bombers, recording just the three handballs. 

Nevertheless, Fellows offered fans glimpses of her speed, agility and athleticism. The 22-year-old lined-up at half-forward, also pushing up onto the wing at various stages throughout the night.  

Charlotte Baskaran

As one of four draftees to make their debut for Hawthorn in Round 1, Western Jets product Charlotte Baskaran looked assured at AFLW level.

Baskaran was employed in the back-half, collecting nine disposals (including eight handballs). She was clean below her knees and made smart decisions when under pressure. 

Bridget Deed

Wearing the famous #15 for Hawthorn, inaugural AFLW signing Bridget Deed battled valiantly through the midfield on Saturday night.

Deed amassed nine disposals (five kicks, four handballs), demonstrating a willingness to put her head over the footy and win her own ball.

Mackenzie Eardley

Key defender Mackenzie Eardley gradually looked more comfortable as the match progressed, recording four disposals and two marks.

The 18-year-old appeared to take some time to adjust to the pace of the game, however will be better for the run as she gets more exposure to AFLW level. 

Sophie Locke

In a truly heart-warming moment, small-forward Sophie Locke kicked Hawthorn’s first goal in the club’s AFLW history, paying tribute to her late mother who tragically passed away only two weeks ago. 

Locke was amongst the Hawks’ strongest performers, gathering 10 disposals and laying five tackles to go with her goal.

The 21-year-old was lively inside forward 50, creating scoring opportunities for her side and applying plenty of defensive pressure. She looked composed with ball in hand and wasn’t afraid to fly for marks when required. 

Tamara Smith

Renowned at VFLW level for her ferocious tackling, on-baller Tamara Smith certainly lived up to her reputation on AFLW debut. 

Smith thrived on the contested style of game, particularly in the early stages, recording five tackles in the opening term alone. The 22-year-old continued in that vein for the remainder of the match, finishing with 14 disposals, six clearances and a game-high nine tackles. 

The only blemish in Smith’s debut was some ill-discipline, resulting in a fair share of free kicks being awarded against her. 

Regardless, Hawthorn fans will be buoyed by the tenacity Smith plays her footy with. 

Lucy Wales

It was a special night for the Wales family, with Lucy lining up against her twin sister Stephanie in their AFLW debuts. 

Wales performed commendably in the ruck, recording 12 hit-outs and also finding the footy on seven occasions. 

A couple of nice marks as well rounded out a promising debut from the developing 184cm ruck. 

Eliza Shannon

Eliza Shannon worked tirelessly in defence for the Hawks, gathering 12 disposals (eight kicks, four handballs) and taking three marks on debut.

Shannon wasn’t afraid to put her body on the line, with the 22-year-old courageously going back with the flight on multiple occasions. 

Catherine Brown

Defender Catherine Brown was given the responsibility of marking Essendon co-captain Bonnie Toogood. This proved to be a tough assignment in her first ever AFLW appearance, with the experience and forward craft of Toogood ultimately getting the better of her in the end. 

However, the opportunity to play on a more seasoned opponent should serve as a great learning experience for Brown in the long run.

The 28-year-old also showcased her skills by foot, utilising her penetrating kicking on numerous occasions to launch Hawthorn outside defensive 50. She finished the match having amassed 11 disposals (including 10 kicks), the majority of which arose from kick-ins. 

Jonathan Potenza

Maeve Chaplin

Maeve Chaplin gets her first game as a Demon after being signed in Season Six as an injury replacement player for Isabella Simmons. A top-age talent, Chaplin was a premiership player with the Northern Knights in the NAB League in 2019. 

During her debut against the Adelaide Crows, Chaplin showed a bit of what she is capable of and played a solid game behind the first string rotation for the Demons. She had eight disposals, two marks and a tackle throughout the contest where it was hard for her to make an impact given her position. 

Once she gets up to speed at AFLW level, her versatility will serve the Demons well as she plays in defence but can go into the midfield rotation as well.

Madeline Irwin

Tayla Gatt

North Melbourne’s first selection in the draft coming to the club with pick 28, speedy winger Taylah Gatt started the afternoon on the bench.

The 18-year-old started the game on the bench, before coming on to make a noticeable impact in the victory, picking up nine disposals and two tackles in the win over Gold Coast.  

Sophie McCarthy

One of North Melbourne’s biggest problems coming out of previous seasons has been its inability to hit the scoreboard consistently. It will be hoping pick 39 from last year’s draft, Sophia McCarthy will be able to rectify this.

Despite having just two possessions and two tackles, McCarthy’s biggest positive from the performance was kicking her first goal in the AFLW during the third quarter.

More AFLW News

“We’re enjoying the way we play”-Giant Cora Staunton is ready for the Lions

AFLW: Swans preparing for battle with against Magpies, Montana Ham injury update

The AFLW A-Z of Round One: Who made the first statement?

Charli Granville

Excitement machine Charli Granville certainly made her presence felt in the match with Gold Coast, despite not winning much of the football. Recruited as someone with a crafty goal sense, Granville’s defensive pressure was on show.

Impacting the scoreboard with one behind, Granville laid four tackles and picked up five disposals.

Vikki Wall

Key forward Vikki Wall made her debut for North Melbourne, having crossed over from playing Gaelic Football in Ireland. Wall’s work rate and energy stood out to recruiters, and it carried over into her debut on the weekend.

The 24 year-old certainly provided a presence up forward with nine disposals, five marks, and seven tackles. Despite not hitting the scoreboard, Wall gave North fans plenty to be excited about.

Erika O’Shea

It was somewhat of a nervy first start for Irish-born utility Erika O’Shea, who is still attempting to find her best position. O’Shea played strong Gaelic Football in Ireland in the backline, but her strong fitness levels might see head coach Darren Crocker move her up the field more.

O’Shea finished with five disposals, one mark, and one tackle in the strong victory, playing some important minutes.

Lachlan Dand

Abbey Dowrick

One of the best on ground, Abbey Dowrick came out guns blazing in Round One for Port Adelaide. 

The 19-year-old from Subiaco, Western Australia dominated the majority of the game with a massive seven marks and 21 disposals on debut.

The midfielder shows plenty of promise after being picked up by the Power after being overlooked in last year’s draft.

Hannah Ewings

South Australia’s most anticipated player and Port’s first draft pick in 2022, Hannah Ewings, is no stranger to putting on a masterclass in Aussie Rules football.

The stellar midfielder has featured on best and fairest list for North Adelaide as well as being named in the All-Australian team following this year’s under-18 national championships.

Her debut consisted of ten disposals, eight kicks and four tackles showing her high footy IQ.

Julia Teakle

An exciting addition to Port Adelaide’s inaugural AFLW list is cousin of newly drafted Brynn Teakle, Julia Teakle.

The Western Australian signed her name in the history books for the Power, putting boot to ball for the first score for the team albeit narrowly missing a goal. 

Teakle is known for her height and finesse around the ball, the perfect addition to the Powers’ maiden team.

Olivia Levicki

Hailing from Balaklava in South Australia, Levicki was recruited by skipper Erin Philips to play Aussie rules after playing in the WNBL for the Perth Lynx.

Levicki’s natural athletic talent and height means she is the perfect addition to the side despite switching codes. 

Although not making a huge impact on her first game, Levicki’s capacity to learn a new code and hone in on her craft as a ruck will be something to watch.

Alexandra Ballard

SANFLW great Alexandra Ballard is one of seven debutants that featured on Power’s Round One list. 

Picked up from the Sturt Football Club, Ballard was an integral part of Port’s defence despite West Coast’s late surge. At only 19-years-old Ballard will look to solidify her spot in the back lines alongside Amelie Borg.

​​Ballard derives from a football-centric family with her brother Charlie playing for the Gold Coast Suns and her dad being the former president of the Mitcham Hawks.

Ameile Borg

As a key defender, Amelie Borg has proved to be a fan favourite with her ability to rack up crucial one-on-ones and her huge kick.

Borg is a reliable defender who doesn’t quit even when things aren’t going favourably as was the case in Round One for Port Adelaide.

On debut, Borg racked up crucial stats for the team and looked promising as a force to be reckoned with down back.

Liz McGrath

Liz McGrath was recruited by Port Adelaide from North Melbourne’s VFLW side where she spent most of her time rucking. The Victorian stands at 183 centimetres and is an integral piece to the port Adelaide puzzle adding height into the mix.

With her experience in the sport, McGrath has already been described as a key part of the team both on and off the field.

On debut, she held her own with a superb 29 hit outs against the West Coast Eagles in unfamiliar, wet conditions.

Juliette Aubert

Katelyn Cox

The 24-year-old medium defender saw long stretches of the game played either at the opposite end of the field, or in the centre. As a result Cox collected just three disposals, but added a pair of tackles to the stats column.

Eilish Sheerin

Sheerin was the clear stand-out debutant of the match, setting up Richmond’s lone goal of the match, and collecting an impressive 19 disposals and 16 intercepts from the half-back position.

The 29-year-old has waited a long time for her moment, but seized the opportunity with both hands. Selected 58th in the 2022 AFLW draft, Sheerin could very well make the teams who passed her over feel regret by season’s end.

Gordon Goodenough

Hannah Stuart

28-year-old Hannah Stuart made an impact on debut for the Saints. In front of a raucous away crowd of 8,264 fans in North Sydney, Stuart collected 12 disposals in midfield.

The team impressed coach Nick Dal Santo with the pressure they applied throughout the match, and Stuart’s two tackles and four clearances comprised a healthy individual contribution.

Gordon Goodenough

Molly Eastman

Playing in defence, Molly Eastman was kept busy throughout the contest against the relentlessly attacking Saints.

Eastman collected an impressive 15 disposals, two marks, and four tackles to go with over 270 metres gained.

Montana Ham

The first-overall pick of the 2022 draft showed flashes of brilliance during the match, giving Sydney fans plenty of reason for excitement for the future. Her performance included 11 disposals, two marks, two clearances, and a whopping eight tackles.

However, a scary moment in the final quarter overshadowed her performance as she sustained an injury in the tackle, immediately grabbed her knee, and had to be helped from the ground.

Swan’s fans, and AFLW fans in general, let out a collective sigh of relief as the Sydney Swans announced via social media that Ham did not sustain an ACL injury.

Cynthia Hamilton

The club anticipates big things to come from the 18-year-old midfielder, selected 11th overall in the 2022 AFLW draft.

Hamilton was one of two players to kick a goal for Sydney in their AFLW debut. She celebrated in style with her fellow debutant goal-scorer Sarah Skinner.

Hamilton will look to add to her six disposals, two clearances, and single tackle in her next outing.

Ella Heads

Ella Heads started the match in full-back and did well to collect nine disposals, two marks, and three tackles.

The recruit from the Inner-West Magpies has a bright future ahead of her, and will look to build on her debut performance this weekend against the Collingwood Magpies.

Sofia Hurley

Selected fifth overall at the 2022 AFLW draft, Hurley oozes potential. The club see her as playing predominantly on the flanks and wings, using her elite running abilities to the full.

Hurley started the match against St Kilda at half-back and wasn’t able to find much space  in the boutique confines of North Sydney Oval. This weekend’s match at Victoria Park will allow her to utilise her skillset more effectively.

Nonetheless, Hurley managed five disposals, four tackles, and two clearances in a productive debut.

Genevieve Lawson Tavan

Full-back Genevieve Lawson Tavan replaced Alice Mitchell in the squad for this season after Mitchell tore her ACL.

Sydney Coach Scott Gowans commented on her athleticism, ability to run the ball out of defence, and long kicking ability as key attributes.

Lawson Tavan saw limited action but managed to accrue two disposals, a tackle, and a spoil. Like Hurley, Lawson Tavan will look forward to more capacious grounds to showcase her ability to make use of space.

Paige Sheppard

According to coach Scott Gowans, Sheppard has been overlooked in the past due to her small stature, however, she has impressed him with her work ethic and ability to find the football.

The 21-year-old midfielder found plenty of the footy, tallying 12 disposals, two marks, two tackles, and two clearances.

Sarah Skinner

Skinner was the second member of Sydney’s AFLW debutant club to kick a goal.

Although she will likely play more in the forward area, Skinner started the match at half-back. The 22-year-old collected three disposals, two marks, and two tackles in addition to her goal.

In a touching moment captured after the match, her mother had made the trek from Tasmania to see her daughter’s first match and first goal.

Lauren Szigeti

The club clearly values Szigeti’s leadership skills, as  evidenced by her selection as a member of the Swans’ leadership group before making her AFLW debut.

The versatile 22-year-old started on the interchange bench but was impactful throughout the game as an inside midfielder.

Szigeti amassed 11 disposals, two marks, and a pair of tackles to get her AFLW campaign off to a solid start.

Aimee Whealan

Like Szigeti, Whelan started on the interchange bench but found opportunities in the midfield. 

The 26-year-old worked on her fitness after being passed over at multiple drafts and comes into the team eager to impress.

Whelan made a good account of herself against the Saints, tallying eight disposals, two tackles, and two clearances.

Gordon Goodenough

Ella Roberts

The first pick in the WA draft, Ella Roberts’ reputation proceeded her before arriving at the Eagles after taking the WAFL by storm having a WAFL premiership to her name at just 16. 

Roberts flourished at AFLW level in her debut game against Port Adelaide, having 10 disposals and a kick to club debutant Kate Bartlett who was positioned at the top of the goal square, led to the sealer for the game.

Roberts’ pressure was immense, having seven tackles for the game, one behind Aisling McCarthy who led the tackle count for the Eagles. 

Isabella Simmons

After joining the Eagles over the off-season, making the switch from Melbourne, the Victorian midfielder reached her goal of making her AFLW debut on the weekend, in the Eagles win over Port Adelaide. 

Simmons built her way into the game, having two disposals and spent a bit of time in the ruck for the Eagles recording two hit outs for the game. 

Elly McNerney

Ryliee Wilcox

Rylie Wilcox was the first pick for the Bulldogs in the 2022 AFLW draft, with the Northen Knights Product making her AFLW debut in the Western Bulldogs win over the Giants. 

Wilcox excited plenty of Dogs fans in her debut game with her willingness to take the game on and her pace.

Finishing the match with 13 disposals, the 18 year old  really built into the game as the game went on, bringing plenty of excitement to the Bulldogs side. 

Heidi Woodley

The second of the two of the Bulldogs debutants across the weekend, Heidi Woodley was the Bulldogs third overall pick in the 2022 draft after a strong season with Vic Metro and the Calder Cannons

The medium forward looked good in the new look Bulldogs forward line, while she didn’t get her hands on the ball as much as she’d like with just the four disposals Woodley played her role well.

Elly McNerney

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