The ladder is starting to fall into place as we edge closer to the mid-point of AFLW season seven.
With some tight contests and big first-time meetings coming up, here are the five things that The Inner Sanctum has chosen to look out for in Round 5.
Young sides push towards the top eight
Both the Gold Coast Suns and Port Adelaide have shown some great signs thus far in season seven, and their young, emerging talents will have another chance to shine this week at they take each other on.
The pair are on the cusp of contending for the top eight, and a win in Round 5 would see either of them firmly entrenched in the fight for a finals place.
For the 12th placed Suns, who are sitting on the same amount of wins as three teams in the eight, it is percentage keeping them behind the pack. Meanwhile for Port, a draw against the Blues two weeks ago delayed their push up the ladder, where a win would’ve seen them sitting in seventh going into this week.
The young stars from both sides had huge games last week, and will be looking to replicate their form as the season goes on. Port Adelaide’s Abbey Dowrick, Jacqui Yorston, and Hannah Ewings were all dominant, with Ewings kicking her first three goals for the club.
Meanwhile at the Suns, Charlie Rowbottom was brilliant against the Saints, collecting 30 touches, along with nine tackles and six clearances, while Kalinda Howarth, and Courtney Jones were also impressive.
If all these young stars can remain in form this weekend, we will be in for a cracking contest at Bond University.
Friday night fight for first premiership points
Many will remember the brilliant games that we saw from the Hawthorn and Sydney mens teams of the early 2010s. Now, the two expansion sides sit in 17th and 18th respectively as the only teams yet to win any AFLW premiership points this season.
Neither side has been able to find their footing in any game so far this season, and as such, they will find their opponent to be very beatable going into this game.
For both sides, we have seen a struggle to convert on the scoreboard, as well as a tendency to concede big scores in the process. In this case, the game will truly be decided on who can take advantage of their opportunities going forward.
It will be a history making day for the winning side, and an injection of momentum heading into the second half of the year. Meanwhile for the loser, it will leave them wondering where that elusive win may come from.
Melbourne aiming to bounce back
One of the premiership favourites at the start of the season, Melbourne’s game against Brisbane last week was a massive contest which may have defined the season moving forward. The Demons started well but ultimately they couldn’t hold on, losing to the Lions by 15 points at Casey Fields.
Subsequently, they are now a game behind the Lions and Bulldogs, and will need to recover points to give themselves the best shot in finals. This week’s game against Carlton is a big chance for the Dees to regain some momentum, especially with a game against the Dogs coming up in two weeks.
The Blues have hit a bit of an injury slump with Phoebe McWIlliams ruled out for the season, Amelia Velardo and Paige Trudgeon both sustaining concussions, and star forward Darcy Vescio breaking a finger, which will see them miss at least one week.
The Demons will see this as a big chance to take advantage and earn themselves a big win to put them back on track.
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Heavyweights go head to head for the first time in AFLW
Collingwood and Essendon are two of the biggest teams in the land, and with Essendon making its way into the women’s competition this season, Round 5 will see them face off with each other for the first time.
For many, the Bombers have been a surprise package this season. They currently sit in sixth place, with a huge percentage of 164.1. This comes down to their ability to convert in attack, with only the Brisbane Lions having scored more points this year.
The Magpies have started the season the way many have expected. Sitting third currently, they are still very much in the premiership fight despite their first loss of the season coming last week.
The Pies’ side is very experienced, with one of the most solid structures in the league. The Bombers midfield and forward mixes have been very impressive, with Madison Prespakis, Stephanie Wales, and Paige Scott all playing key roles in recent weeks.
With the excitement that the Bombers’ young stars and recruits have brought to the league, they will surely put up a good fight against the Magpies on Friday. A win would cement them as the real deal as well, edging them closer to the top four mix.
Undefeated powerhouses look to extend their streaks
The aforementioned Brisbane Lions and Western Bulldogs have cemented themselves as the two teams to beat in season seven. Both sides are entering Round 5 with a record of 4-0, and will be looking to extend their total to five this week.
The Lions have been enormous at the scoring end. With an average of 66.8 points per game, they have been extremely difficult to stop. Although, the Tigers have been very solid defensively, with the fifth least points conceded in the league, and may give the Lions a good fight on Saturday.
The Tigers’ key to victory will be finding the right combination to stop the scoring power of Brisbane duo Jesse Wardlaw and Greta Bodey, who have scored 16 combined goals so far this year.
Meanwhile, the Western Bulldogs have started the year very strongly, and will also be looking to claim a fifth win.
North Melbourne could be the Dogs’ toughest battle thus far, with two wins to their name, and their two losses coming against the premiers and runners up from last season, Adelaide and Melbourne, both of which they were quite competitive against.
Some may say the Bulldogs have had a fairly easy start, having not yet faced any team inside the top eight. However, the Kangaroos are no walk over, and much like the Crows and Demons, they will surely give the Dogs a great contest on Friday afternoon.
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