22/04/2024

The Inner Sanctum presents the Round 9 AFLW Team of the Week. (Photos: AFL; Design: Will Cuckson)

The Inner Sanctum has put together a team of the week comprised of the best performing players from Round 9 of AFLW season seven.

Defenders are rewarded for defensive play, midfielders receive accolades for their dominance, while forwards receive a shout-out for hitting the scoreboard and applying pressure.

You can read last week’s team here.

The team selected is…

Defenders:

Viv Saad anchored Gold Coast’s backline against Carlton, and accordingly earns the full-back spot this week. She collected 13 disposals and five marks, helping keep the Blues to just five scoring shots.

Belinda Smith had one of her best performances in her 49 AFLW games, collecting a massive 23 disposals and taking eight marks. She was first at the footy every time the Bulldogs entered forward 50.

Nat Grider has been a force to be reckoned with in Brisbane’s defensive 50 all season, and was a standout again against the Hawks. She collected 19 disposals, four marks and four tackles in the big win to secure a top two spot.

Bella Smith earns a first-time selection in the Team of the Week for her brilliant defensive game against Fremantle. Spending most of the game matched up on fellow young gun Amy Franklin, she kept the key forward to no goals and no marks while gathering 14 disposals and five marks of her own.

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Chantel Emonson has perhaps flown under the radar at times at Geelong. But against Adelaide, there was no mistaking her work off half-back. In a career-best outing, she had 19 disposals for 311 metres gained, six marks and four tackles.

Midfielders:

Gabby Seymour has had a strong season seven without being excellent, but this week against Cambridge McCormick, she was dominant. Along with her 27 hit-outs, she had 16 disposals, three marks, three tackles and three clearances.

Mon Conti has had a season to remember, and is smashing her own records week after week. She equalled her career-best three goals, which she also kicked against Hawthorn earlier this year, while also collecting a team-high 24 disposals, eight tackles, five marks and four clearances.

Who’s beating Jasmine Garner for the league best and fairest? In another exhilarating midfield outing, the North Melbourne superstar stuffed the stat sheet with 26 disposals, 19 contested possessions, five inside 50s, four clearances, four marks and three tackles.

Kiara Bowers continually finds ways to outdo herself, putting in an unbelievable shift against the young Swans midfield. The hard-nosed veteran finished with 19 disposals, eight clearances, and an outrageous 20 tackles. We shouldn’t be surprised at ‘Turbo’s’ numbers, but here we are.

Airlie Runnalls has had a lot of responsibility with the departure of Steph Cain and the absence of Ebony Antonio, as the new first choice winger. Ironically, it took until Antonio’s return for Runnalls to play her best footy, collecting a career-high 26 disposals and three marks.

Karen Paxman looks on track to earn another All-Australian selection, and gets the other wing spot after a brilliant game against the Bombers. Burning the visitors on the outside, she finished with 24 disposals, six tackles and a goal.

Forwards:

Kalinda Howarth is back in a big way in season seven, and was in and amongst everything in the forward line once again on Friday night. 18 disposals and a goal paints a picture of a strong night for the versatile Sun.

Tahlia Randall was flying at every ball that came her way against Collingwood, and was one of the big keys to success in a brilliant day for North Melbourne. She took six marks and kicked two goals in one of her best outings for the season.

Sarah Hartwig has had her magnet shuffled around on the whiteboard by coach Nathan Burke, but on Saturday against West Coast, she looked settled up forward. The young Bulldog kicked two goals for the first time in her career, adding a strong aerial presence as well with four marks.

We’re seeing the best of Jesse Wardlaw in season seven, as she kicked three majors against the Hawks to extend her hold on the competition goalkicking tally. With one weekend to go, she has the award under wraps unless something extreme happens in Round 10.

Stella Reid showed a major flash of her potential last week against Carlton, but fully delivered in this match against GWS. She kicked two goals to make it four for her season, popping up everywhere on Sunday.

Interchange:

Ally Anderson still hasn’t quite got her flowers in season seven, but was the Lions’ best midfielder on Saturday night, finishing with 31 disposals, 10 clearances and three tackles.

Nicola Xenos was a pressure machine against Port Adelaide on Sunday. Rotating through the midfield and forward lines, she had 13 disposals, four clearances, and a career-high 13 tackles.

Chelsea Biddell rotated across a number of Cats forwards on Friday, ensuring that no one player was able to get out of control, as they have been recently.

Olivia Levicki earns the second ruck spot for her brilliant performance against Simone Nalder. She had a season-best 39 hit-outs, while also collecting 10 disposals.

Hayley Miller is extremely unlucky to be pushed onto the bench, but such was the quality of inside midfielders on show in Round 9. She collected a lazy 27 disposals, eight clearances, four tackles, and kicked a goal.

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