We’re three games into season seven of the AFLW, and the big name stars are starting to stamp their authority on the competition.
Four teams remain undefeated so far this season, while three of the newly formed expansion teams are looking to claim the first win in their histories.
The Inner Sanctum has chosen five things to look out for in Round 4.
Dees and Lions battle in top of the table clash
It’s an early season heavyweight bout as the Demons and Lions play off at Casey Fields.
Both sides head into the match undefeated, with the Lions having the more favourable draw to begin the year, having played the Suns, Giants and Dockers. The Dees on the other hand have played the reigning premiers in the Crows and top eight hopefuls in the Saints, along with the Kangaroos.
The match is shaping up to be a classic and a potential preview for the finals series, with stars of the game in Daisy Pearce and Emily Bates set to lead their sides to battle.
Bates is averaging 20 disposals at 76.7 per cent efficiency to begin the year, continuing her AFLW best and fairest form from earlier this year.
The Demons’ Olivia Purcell is averaging 23.3 disposals in her first three games, along with 267.3 meters gained, setting up a serious midfield contest.
The loser may see themselves pushed out of the top four pending the results in the other games, a worrying thought for both sides in the relatively short season.
Narrm’s big concern will be the absence of star goalkicker Tayla Harris due to suspension. While she’s only kicked one goal so far this season, her chop out work in the ruck has been a crucial part of her side’s structure.
Who can stop Shierlaw?
The Saints’ Kate Shierlaw is in a rich vein of form to begin season seven, kicking eight goals in her first three games and leading the goalkicking amongst the whole league.
Shierlaw has already more than doubled her scoring output from last season, with her three games resulting in four, two and two goals in Rounds 1, 2 and 3 respectively.
The Saints now take on the Suns in their next match, after a Q Clash defeat where the Lions piled on 82 points and forwards Jesse Wardlaw and Greta Bodey kicked four and three respectively.
Shierlaw’s eyes may be lighting up at the prospect of another bag of goals, as she looks to extend her lead at the top of the goalkicking charts and help keep her Saints in the top eight race.
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Expansion sides look to claim first victory
The Swans and the Power play off at the Alberton Oval on Saturday with both sides looking to get their first ever win in the women’s competition.
The Power were heartbreakingly close in Round 3, playing out a 27-27 draw against the Blues. They led by 13 points at half-time, but couldn’t hold on to the lead by the final siren, however still receiving their first premiership points.
The Swans have shown flashes in their games, but have been beaten comprehensively by their three opponents with an inexperienced list.
The bout against the Power gives the Swans their first genuine chance to claim a win, with both sides still developing their squads and working on their chemistry.
Port Adelaide may enter the match as the favourite with the home ground advantage, but the result is likely to be narrow either way.
The Prespakis sisters’ red hot form
Maddy and Georgie Prespakis are continuing to take the league by storm in season seven, with the sisters putting together dominant performances for both Essendon and Geelong respectively.
Maddy has led the Bombers to two wins out of their first three games, where she has averaged 23 disposals a game and kicked four goals.
Her move over from the Blues to the new expansion side has grown her star even more, with the freedom to lead and be the primary ball winner of an inexperienced list.
Her sister Georgie has taken the next step this season also. She’s averaging 18 disposals, which is up 3.6 on her career, is ranked third in the competition for contested possessions, and was the match-winner in Round 1 against the Tigers.
The Cats have also claimed two wins from their first three matches, sitting just ahead of Maddie’s Bombers.
Both sisters take on teams outside the top eight in Round 4, with Maddie coming up against the Tigers and Georgie facing the Kangaroos. These matchups can allow them to continue to grow their stature in the competition and establish their sides’ finals credentials.
Milestones for competition’s finest
Three stalwarts of the AFLW competition will celebrate their 50th game if selected this weekend.
The Bulldogs’ Kirsty Lamb has been a stalwart for the Bulldogs throughout her whole career and has the accolades to back up her longevity. Lamb is a best and fairest at the Dogs, All-Australian and premiership player, along with receiving the AFLPA’s Most Courageous Player award last season.
Melbourne’s Lily Mithen will play her 50th game in the big clash against the Lions on Sunday, the team that she played her first game against back in 2017.
One of the representatives for Victoria in the 2017 State of Origin match, Mithen has been ever reliable throughout her career and continues to play her best footy in season seven.
And of course, it is 50 games for one of the greats in Australian women’s sport in Erin Phillips. Phillips, who made the jump to captain Port Adelaide before season seven, is regarded as one of the best female footballers of all time, with the accolades to prove it.
She is a three-time premiership player, two-time AFLW best and fairest and two-time club leading goalkicker at the Adelaide Crows, and continues to add to her incredible career in the teal.
Phillips and the Power take on the Swans at Alberton Oval on Saturday as they look to claim their first win.
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