20/04/2024

The Hawks will be looking to continue their run of form from recent weeks as they celebrate a special milestone for their captain. (Photo: Hawthorn FC AFLW/Twitter)

After the past round saw plenty of surprises and many ladder-shaping results, this weekend sees more eye-opening storylines.

But which are the ones worth keeping an eye on? Here are the five things that The Inner Sanctum has chosen to look out for in Round 7.

AFLW’s most-storied rivalry resumes

One of the most famous rivalries in women’s football history is set to add another chapter to its book as the Demons and the Bulldogs do battle this Sunday afternoon for the first time ever at the Casey Fields fortress.

These two have met in every AFLW season, with the Demons currently leading the head-to-head battle four to two and looking to add to that win column this weekend.

After its first Grand Final appearance last season, Melbourne has gone from strength to strength, sitting equal-top and with its only loss coming at the hands of top-of-the-table Brisbane.

Meanwhile, its opponents have started to look shaky in recent weeks following a 4-0 start to the season. The Bulldogs have lost their last two games against sides that were previously below them in the Kangaroos by 15 points and the Cats by just one.

There’s plenty of must-watch matchups across the ground, with the likes of Tayla Harris, Katie Lynch, Olivia Purcell, Kirsty Lamb, Tyla Hanks and Isabelle Pritchard to do battle, whilst AFLW greats Ellie Blackburn and Daisy Pearce will face off once more.

And despite their differing form lines and ladder positions, it looks set to be another fierce duel between the two teams that started it all back in 2016.

Bombers and Cats take AFLW to Warrnambool

In the men’s competition, this game has made a name for itself as the Country Game since 2015. Now the AFLW version of the fixture will hit country Victoria for the first time as the Bombers and the Cats take the trip to Warrnambool.

It’s set to be a historic day for the town in Victoria’s south-west, with the newly redeveloped Reid Oval set to become the first of two new grounds in the state to be introduced over the next few rounds.

This match-up is also a big one for the context of the season. Following their loss last weekend, the Bombers now sit two games (and percentage) outside of a finals spot, while the Cats sit a game between dropping out of finals and the top four.

After a promising start to life in the AFLW for the Dons, it’s been a rough middle patch of the season. They’ve lost their last three games against two top four sides in Collingwood and Brisbane, as well as eighth-placed Richmond.

The Cats on the other hand have started to hit some form, and have now won their last two matches. Last weekend saw them win by one point against the Bulldogs in Ballarat without superstar midfielder Georgie Prespakis, who’s set for another week on the sidelines due to suspension.

Even without the added drama of the ‘Prespakis Cup’, it’s set to be a massive clash at Reid Oval, with the winner to take a big step in their hopes for finals

Hawks looking for three on the trot against Power

At the start of the season, not many would’ve predicted the Hawks would get the chance to win three consecutive matches. They’ll be eyeing off the win streak this round against fellow expansion side Port Adelaide in Frankston.

After a slightly rough opening month of action, wins against fellow newcomers Sydney and the struggling West Coast have breathed new life into Hawthorn’s season, and given fans plenty of hope.

https://twitter.com/hawthornaflw/status/1576457199890534401

While they accumulate the second-least disposals (averaging 177.5) and score the third-least points (22) per game, their tackling pressure more than makes up for it. Led by captain Tilly Lucas-Rodd and ex-Geelong VFLW star Tamara Smith, the Hawks average a league-high 74.2 tackles per game.

Supporting them well has been top-10 draft pick Jasmine Fleming, who has provided both grunt and class, alongside Aileen Gilroy who has been a creative force through midfield and up forward.

Opponents Port Adelaide won’t be easy beats though. The Power have shown as much promise as the Hawks have in their first season, but they’re now stuck on a two-game losing streak, including last weekend by 60 points in the first AFLW Showdown.

It’s set to be an enthralling duel between these two expansion sides as one looks to continue their win streak, and the other to get their season back on track.

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Roos face biggest test of them all

The Kangaroos have started to play some of their best footy in recent weeks, but will be put to a massive test this weekend in the form of the Lions.

After a tough start to the season, which saw them lose two of their opening three matches against Melbourne and Adelaide, Darren Crocker’s side has now won their last three games, including a comfortable 11-goal win over Sydney last Sunday at Punt Road Oval.

Now sitting only a game behind Collingwood and Melbourne in fourth and third and with a healthy percentage, the Roos will be up and about this weekend as they return to their spiritual home of Arden Street.

They’ll be up against a Brisbane Lions outfit that will be looking to keep top spot. The 2021 premiers be raring to go after they bounced back from their first defeat last weekend in spectacular fashion at home against the Bombers.

This game will also see two of the highest scoring teams face off, with the Lions averaging a league-high 57.2 points per game whilst the Kangaroos average the fourth most points per game at 36.3.

With top spot and a top four spot on the line, it’s all set up to be a high-scoring thriller at Arden Street this Saturday afternoon.

Leaders set to pass 50-game milestone

Three inaugural stars of the AFLW are set to pass the 50 game milestone (if selected), two of which are captains of their respective sides.

The first captain, Tilly Lucas-Rodd, will pass the milestone this Saturday night as she leads the Hawks in Frankston for a second consecutive week against Port Adelaide.

Whilst missing out on the milestone last week due to concussion, Collingwood co-captain Steph Chiocci could get the opportunity to pass the milestone this weekend in front of her adoring fans at Victoria Park.

Originally from VWFL club Diamond Creek, Chiocci became the Pies’ inaugural captain, having led the Creekers the three seasons prior to the inaugural AFLW season.

Since 2017, she’s led the Pies from the back, and been influential in midfield and defence, averaging 12.4 disposals, 3.1 tackles and 2.6 marks in her 49-game career.

And finally Melbourne leadership group member Kate Hore will also pass the milestone in front of her home fans at Casey Fields. The 2020 All-Australian forward has put together another stellar season, and is now six goals away from reaching the 50-goal milestone.

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