The GWS Giants had a tough AFLW season in season seven (Picture: AFLW/Website, Design by Will Cuckson)

Finishing with the same amount of wins as season six, season seven was another rollercoaster for the Giants. Ending up 11th on the ladder, they played a lot of youth which paved the way for some inconsistent form but growth for the side overall.

Finishing position: 11th (four wins, six losses)

What worked?

Considering they were without some key players due to injury (Chloe Dalton, Pepa Randall, Tait Mackrill, Rebecca Beeson and Isabel Huntington), the Giants side was mostly youth with the usual suspects having to play big roles.

The young players were well supported by Alyce Parker and Jodie Hicks who had fantastic seasons, with Parker keeping her form from last season going in the midfield. While Hicks turned a role down back into her career-best season blossoming in her second chance at the level.

The young players in Georgia Garnett, Emily Pease, Cambridge McCormick, Tarni Evans and Zarlie Goldsworthy all performed and showed glimpses of their talent which will only improve with more experienced heads.

Despite not having lofty expectations about their season before it began, the Giants can take heart that they finished where they would be expected to with a fairly young list with a new head coach in Cam Bernasconi. They won all the games against the teams that they would be expected to win against (Swans, Blues, Hawks and Suns) however they probably should have won against the Eagles.

With season seven in the books and another few seasons into the developing list at the Giants, they should be up around the mark.

What didn’t?

For this season it was all about learning for the GWS Giants, with many of the experienced players expected to shoulder more responsibility on and off the field it led to an inconsistent spread of output. Again it was veteran forward Cora Staunton who was the leading goalkicker for the club with eight for the season, followed by Garnett with six and Nicola Barr with four, putting into perspective the relatively low scoring of the team.

In the ten games played, they only scored over five goals on three occasions and they did so against weaker opposition in Sydney, but more impressively over the Gold Coast and the Bulldogs. Not only this but they were kept to under three goals in four matches in their games against Adelaide, West Coast, Collingwood and Richmond.

Their offence is their weakness which is a sign of a lack of ready-made forward targets besides Staunton and Barr at times.

When considering another weakness, it is their defence that is shaky too, with the top sides scoring percentage boosting wins against the Giants. They were beaten by over 32 points four times during the season by Brisbane (47 points), Adelaide (97), Collingwood (32) and Richmond (43).

Breakout stars:

The best thing about having some mainstay talent out through injury was the opportunity that was afforded to some young players.

In her third season with the Giants, Pease was nominated for the Rising Star award after a brilliant performance against the Blues in round Six. Displaying her ability to play in the midfield while providing run and carry on the outside as well as her forward prowess, she will be a player that will be one to watch after she returns from her ACL rehab.

After playing down forward in previous seasons, it was the returning rookie in Hicks that enjoyed a career-best season in the charcoal and orange. This season she nearly doubled her output in disposals, marks, tackles and rebound 50s with her best outing against Collingwood netting her 12 disposals, one goal and nine tackles.

Continuing her run of form from last season was Parker, who was the first AFLW player to win four consecutive Club Champions awards after a stellar season in which she averaged 23 disposals, 3.9 marks and 4.8 tackles.

More AFLW Season Reviews

AFLW Season Seven Review: Carlton Blues

AFLW Season Seven Review: Hawthorn Hawks

AFLW Season Seven Review: West Coast Eagles

Highest point:

With their rivals being introduced in the AFLW this season, the highlight was the win over the Swans in the first AFLW ‘Battle of the Bridge’. Taking out the win by 47 points, the Giants flexed their muscle over a clearly younger and more inexperienced outfit to take bragging rights.

This game showed the Giants at their best with their new gameplan in full flight, it was an offence display with Bernasconi’s team kicking 9.11 during the game. Pease, Goldsworthy and Garnett showed that they will be ones to watch develop in the league going forward.

Another highlight was the Round 10 win against the Gold Coast Suns to finish the season on a high. With finals clearly out of the question entering the game, the Giants pulled out a solid performance against the Suns who were so close to making finals.

The Giants had everything to play for farewelling reliable defender Tanya Hetherington while celebrating the 50 game milestone of Staunton. Keeping their record intact against the Suns, the Giants now enjoy a 4 game winning streak in their rivalry.

Lowest point:

The lowest point in their season without a doubt has to be the encounter with the Adelaide Crows at Unley Oval in round Five. Playing a relatively bruise-free game of football, the Giants had a day to forget registering the equal lowest team score and the biggest losing margin in AFLW history.

With the trip to Adelaide being one of the hardest road trips in AFLW, the match-up looked like it would go the Crows’ way pre-game, however the Giants simply didn’t turn up being outclassed even in the midfield which is their one-ward.

Where to next?

With some of the young players having breakout seasons in the charcoal and orange, the future could be bright for Bernasconi and his team. If the group stays together and Staunton signs on for another year to mentor the young forwards, they could contend for finals in a few seasons.

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