The last weekend of the home and away season of the biggest AFLW season is here, with all eight finals spots still up for grabs.
With all those spots to play for plus plenty more headlines, here are the five storylines that The Inner Sanctum has chosen to look out for in Round 10.
The battle for the double chance
Up to six teams will battle it out for not only the final two top-four spots on the AFLW ladder, but a double chance come finals time.
Adelaide, who sits in third and with a healthy percentage, looks most likely to stay in its current position. However, the Crows still have to pick up the four points against the Saints to lock in that spot.
The other team currently sitting with a double chance is Richmond who has been on a remarkable run this season having won its last seven games. After their win against the Giants last weekend, the Tigers leapfrogged the Magpies to move into fourth.
It could be hard for Richmond to keep that double chance spot though as it comes up against a North Melbourne outfit raring to go after it picked up its first top-four scalp against Collingwood last weekend.
For the Pies, it’s also been a strong season having sat in a top-four spot all season before last weekend. Whilst Collingwood still has a chance to make it, it will have to do it the hard way as it faces minor premier fancies, Brisbane, at Metricon Stadium.
Geelong still has a sniff of making the top four and getting the double chance, however, it will need a big win against Sydney and hope that Richmond and Collingwood lose.
It’s all set to go down to the wire, with the two sides who do finish in the top four booking dates against the two benchmarks of AFLW season seven.
Dogs and Suns continue to tussle for eighth
The Western Bulldogs and Gold Coast Suns have been locked in an enthralling duel for eighth spot for the past few weeks, and it will all come down to the final weekend of action to see who will return to finals.
Whilst some may say the Bulldogs have locked in that finals spot, there is still hope for Suns’ fans that they can make a second-ever finals appearance. However, they’ll need everything to go right.
After starting the season on fire not many would’ve expected Nathan Burke’s side to have a chance to slip out of the eight. Despite this, it couldn’t be a simpler equation this weekend for the Bulldogs who just need a win to lock in a finals spot.
They’ll come in as favourites having won their two home matches, as well as defeating every side that is below them on the ladder, including the Eagles last weekend. Their opponents the Blues have also only gained two points this season from games on their home track this season.
However, a loss and the Bulldogs will still be on edge until late on Sunday afternoon when the Suns take on a slightly struggling Giants outfit. The Suns still need a very big percentage boost of nearly 20 per cent though if the Bulldogs were to only just go down to the Blues to make finals.
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The sun sets on two legends
Unfortunately, like all good things, everything must come to an end, and this Saturday evening at Fremantle Oval Kara Antonio and Jess Duffin’s AFLW careers come to a close.
Initially, a cricketer who played footy occasionally as well as representing Australia, Duffin took a break from cricket in 2015 to focus on football. After a season with VWFL powerhouse Diamond Creek, she was then drafted in the inaugural AFLW draft to Collingwood.
Spending two seasons with the Pies as well as with VFLW club Williamstown where she won the Lambert-Pearce Medal in 2018, she then became one of many to move to the Kangaroos in 2019. Flourishing in a new role in defence, she earned an All-Australian selection in her first season with North.
This season saw another change of scenery for Duffin at Hawthorn where she’s proven to be a handy swing player for Bec Goddard, kicking five goals in nine matches, including the only goal in her final home game against Brisbane days after announcing her retirement.
Meanwhile, Antonio will complete a fairytale return when she plays on the weekend having had hamstring surgery nearly three months ago.
The inaugural captain had been a stalwart in Fremantle’s midfield for the first six seasons before being struck down by injury, earning All-Australian selection in the inaugural AFLW season.
Expansion clubs’ seasons come to an end
This weekend will not only mark the end of two AFLW stars, but it will also be the final match for the four new expansion clubs.
The first of these sides to farewell their season will be the young Swans as they travel to Geelong. Whilst it has shown signs of promise Sydney has had it much tougher than other expansion clubs this season and could become the third AFLW side to go winless in a season.
Following that match Hawthorn’s season will come to an end as it travels out west to face Fremantle. After many expected the Hawks to struggle this season they’ve picked up three consecutive wins in the middle of the season to give their fans hope.
And finally, the last two expansion clubs in Port Adelaide and Essendon will battle it out for premiership points this Sunday.
For the young Power side whilst it’s also been a struggle, they’ve still managed to pick up six points, with their first win coming against fellow expansion club the Swans.
Meanwhile, their opponents Essendon came into the season with some expectations off the back of a VFLW premiership as well as a heavy recruiting haul. But whilst the Bombers will miss out on finals, they still could claim the title of best expansion side having picked up three wins this season.
Despite all expansion side’s season’s coming to an end, they can all still hold their heads up high knowing that there is a bright future for all of them.
50 games galore to end the regular season
Much like the start of the season the home and away season will end with a bang for at least six players who’ll play their 50th game this weekend.
Friday night will see at least one pass the milestone, with ex-Carlton player Lauren Brazzale running out in the black and white and becoming the 50th AFLW player to play 50 AFLW games.
Saturday will see three more pass the milestone. First up at Casey Fields, hard-working Melbourne defender Sarah Lampard will join five of her teammates in passing the 50-game milestone whilst on the other side Belinda Smith will become the first Eagles player to pass it.
The following match will see Crows midfielder Eloise Jones run onto RSEA Park and join fellow superstar midfielders Anne Hatchard and Ebony Marinoff in passing the 50-game milestone for the Crows.
Two more will then pass the milestone on Sunday, the first of which will be ex-Crow Ange Foley in Port Adelaide’s final match of the season against Essendon.
Legendary Irishwoman and Giants forward Cora Staunton will be the final player as well as the second GWS player to pass 50 games.
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