Henson Park will host its first game of season seven in Round 6. (Photo: AFLW/Twitter)

We’ve hit the midway point of the AFLW season seven, with plenty of twists and turns taking place last weekend.

And with plenty of intriguing storylines heading into this weekend, here are the five things that The Inner Sanctum has chosen to look out for in Round 6.

First ever AFLW Showdown

There are plenty of rivalries across the AFL and AFLW, but none bigger than the Showdown. And tomorrow night the first-ever women’s Showdown is set to take place.

It’s set to take place on the biggest stage of them all in South Australia, with the Adelaide Oval hosting its first home and away match after previously hosting six finals, three of which were Grand Finals.

This Showdown will also be an emotional one for Power superstar Erin Phillips, who’ll come up against the side where she won three premierships and two club champion awards at for the first time.

Reigning premier Adelaide come into this game in red-hot form, and sitting in second on the AFLW table. Last weekend saw it back to its best, winning by the biggest margin in AFLW history whilst keeping GWS to just one behind.

Meanwhile, its South Australian rivals have begun their inaugural season in solid fashion. However, after losing to Gold Coast last weekend despite coming from behind, the Power now sit a game and a half between both bottom spot the top eight.

Despite these two coming into this game off the back of differing results, past weekends and form lines are often thrown out the window in derbies, and especially the Showdown. With plenty on the line for both sides, it’s all set up to be an enthralling clash between these two bitter rivals.

Tigers and Suns to battle for a finals spot

The Tigers and Suns have been two of the biggest risers in 2022, and will now have the chance to possibly lock in an AFLW finals appearance.

Richmond come into this game in strong form, having won its last three matches, including on AFL Grand Final Day where it did the impossible and defeated the Brisbane Lions, keeping them to just one goal.

Gold Coast though come into this game in equally solid form, having won three of its last four, including most recently against Port Adelaide.

However, all three wins have seen the Suns as the home side, with this match also their first and only fixture in Victoria this season.

Both teams have had several stars throughout the season. Richmond’s Monique Conti has continued to improve each week, leading the Tigers in clearances (four per game), tackles (6.4) and disposals (20.2)..

However their defence has been their focal point this season, with mature-age rookie Eilish Sheerin and Maddie Shevlin leading the way.

The young stars of the Gold Coast have continued to burn brightly, with midfield duo Charlie Rowbottom (21.4 disposals, 13.2 contested possessions, 5.8 clearances per game) and Alison Drennan (18.6 disposals, 6.6 tackles per game) leading the way.

Forward pair Tara Bohanna and Courtney Jones have also combined well in their first season together.

With a finals spot on the line and a chance to build on momentum from recent weeks, it could be set to be another enthralling duel at Tigerland.

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Bulldogs and Lions looking to bounce back

The AFLW is now down to zero undefeated sides after both the Bulldogs and Lions went down at Punt Road Oval last weekend.

Friday afternoon saw the Bulldogs defeated by a fast-finishing Kangaroos outfit. The loss saw them drop down from second to fifth by the end of the week due to their percentage. Meanwhile for the Lions, it was a shock defeat the day after against a ferocious Tigers outfit.

Bare those two defeats, both these sides have had near flawless seasons. Despite having a slightly easier run than some, the Bulldogs have continued to perform at a high level under Nathan Burke, with experienced stars such as Katie Lynch, Ellie Blackburn and Kirsty Lamb leading the way once more.

This Saturday at Mars Stadium though will see them face another big test though in Geelong. The Cats come into this weekend without superstar midfielder Georgie Prespakis but in good form of their own after smashing the Saints, looking to leapfrog the Bulldogs in fifth.

For Brisbane, last weekend was an outlier in what has been a fantastic start to season seven.

The first three weekends saw the Lions kick 10-plus goals in each match, and win by an average margin of 56 points. Forward duo Jesse Wardlaw and Greta Bodey have combined for 16 goals this season, whilst reigning league best and fairest winner Emily Bates continues to shine in midfield.

They’ll return home to Moreton Bay this Sunday and take on an Essendon side equally as potent as the Lions, but without Daria Bannister due to suspension.

How well can the Cats do without Georgie Prespakis?

As previously mentioned, the Cats will be without superstar midfielder Georgie Prespakis for the next two weekends against the Bulldogs and Bombers.

After a reasonable first season where she averaged 13.3 disposals and 6.8 tackles, the sister of AFLW best and fairest winner Maddy has been one of the key factors in helping Geelong not only push for finals, but sit in the top eight currently.

So far she leads the Cats in metres gained (298 per game) and tackles (8.4), whilst also increasing her disposal average to 22.2. She’s averaging 13.2 contested possessions, 5.6 clearances, 3.4 inside 50s and 2.4 score involvements.

While Amy McDonald has continued to play a key role in midfield and currently leads the Cats in disposals (26.4), contested possessions (16.4) and clearances (7.6), it’ll come down to others such as Olivia Fuller, Nina Morrison and Zali Friswell to step up and fell the void Prespakis leaves.

Another possible option for coach Dan Lowther could be to throw Chloe Scheer into the midfield. Despite playing predominantly forward throughout her AFLW career, Scheer has played midfield for the Cats VFLW side where she averaged 17.6 disposals, 2.4 tackles and 4.8 clearances in eight games.

No matter what Lowther chooses to do, all eyes will still be on the Cats midfield in these two make-or-break games against a Bulldogs outfit that sit only a game ahead of them, and the Bombers only a game (and percentage) behind.

AFLW returns to Henson Park and SkyBus Stadium

After making their AFLW debuts last season, Henson Park and SkyBus Stadium will be making their returns as venues this coming weekend.

The historic Sydney Inner West stadium of Henson Park had a successful debut earlier this year. Hosting two GWS home games, the first one saw the Giants defeat the Bulldogs in Round 4 before the Crows came over and cruised to victory in Round 7.

This weekend will begin a run of five consecutive weeks of games for the Marrickville ground, with GWS to host three games against Carlton, Hawthorn and Gold Coast and Sydney to host two also against the Suns and Fremantle.

Meanwhile, the home of VFL side Frankston will host its first game in just under nine months, having hosted the first game of the last AFLW season which saw Richmond comfortably defeat St Kilda.

This time around though it’ll be expansion side Hawthorn as the home side, with the Hawks set to play their final three home games of the season there against the Eagles, Power and Lions under lights.

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