The finals have arrived, and most booked their spots emphatically, while others at least ensured the season ended on a positive note.
The Inner Sanctum takes you through Round 10, complete from A-Z. The defining highs, lows and controversies surrounding Round 10 of AFLW Season Seven.
A is for Admirable Aine: The Irish powerhouse Aine Tighe delivered a performance worthy of awe. The Fremantle star kicked four goals on Saturday night, including her shot from 50 that helped extend Fremantle’s lead by 10 points. Tighe was impactful for her side and among the Docker’s contributors to their win at Fremantle Oval.
B is for Battle of the Moodys: Friday night’s clash marked another instalment of sisters Celine and Breann Moody going head to head when the Bulldogs took on Carlton. Although the pair didn’t go head to head as much as they have in the past with Celine taking on more of a forward role. Celine came away with the bragging rights with the Bulldogs coming away with the win.
C is for Caught from behind: After holding Adelaide goalless for the third time in club history, the Saints looked determined to stay on top. With Ash Woodland running into an open goal, Nicola Stevens provided a chase-down tackle to remember to rub salt in the wounds of Adelaide fans everywhere.
D is for Do-or-die: There are no second chances for Collingwood next week, condemned to an elimination final after two heavy defeats in a row. If the Pies want to keep going this season, they’ll need to arrest the slide, fast.
E is for Ellie comes in clutch: If there is one player across the AFLW who delivers wins to their team off her own boot it’s Ellie Blackburn. Once again she came through with the match-winning goal to seal both the match and give the Bulldogs a spot in finals for the first time since 2018.
F is for Five in a quarter: Melbourne’s Kate Hore was at her pressuring best on Saturday evening, making a jaw-dropping five tackles inside forward fifty in the first quarter alone. The Demons’ forward line dominated the contest early in the piece as five of their eight scores came directly from stoppages.
G is for Goalless first half: Battling the elements at RSEA Park, the third-placed Crows failed to kick a goal in the opening half against the Saints. Swirling winds at ground level made it a tough affair for both sides, the score at the main break sitting at a measly 7-2.
H is for Hickie’s new heights: An important part of Brisbane’s flag push is the injection of youth, with Tahlia Hickie a key example. Hickie had 12 touches, clunked four marks, and had 18 hit-outs in the ruck in the Lions’ big win.
I is for Injury watch: The Geelong Cats had a rousing win however this may be soured by an injury to star midfielder Georgie Prespakis. With Prespakis essential to their make-up, this is the last thing they’d need coming into a finals series.
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J is for Just what the doctor ordered for the Giants: After entering their match knowing they wouldn’t be playing finals, the Giants showed their grit and refused to take their foot off the gas, defeating the ninth-placed Suns at home to farewell their fans and the retiring Tanya Hetherington for 2022. They’ll take plenty of positives from their season and will see this result as an extremely positive one heading into the off-season.
K is for Kick it like Poppy: While the result didn’t go in the Blues’ favour, one player that was brilliant in their forward fifty was young gun Poppy Schaap, who in just her third AFLW match kicked two goals during the Blues’ strong first-quarter run.
L is for Lots to learn for young Swans: The Sydney Swans finish winless in their maiden AFLW season after a loss at the hands of the more experienced Geelong Cats. After a season full of learnings and growth, the Swans will be better for the run in 2023.
M is for McKenzie magic: Young Tiger Ellie McKenzie secured not only her side’s spot in their first-ever finals series, but also their first top-four finish. The former pick-one was electric in the draw with North Melbourne, kicking two goals and collecting 16 disposals alongside five tackles.
N is for Nothing in it: You couldn’t have scripted the finish to the clash between North Melbourne and Richmond any better. Geelong fans had their hearts in their mouths – a North Melbourne win would lock in a top-four spot for them, while a Richmond victory would see them drop out. A draw wasn’t in anyone’s calculations, but it will see the Cats host the Kangaroos in an elimination final, while the Tigers will travel to Queensland to face the Lions.
O is for Opportunities taken: With the inside 50 count sitting at 24-22 in the Bombers’ favour, both teams definitely had the opportunity to take it up to the opposition. However, Port Adelaide didn’t capitalise in the same way Essendon did. The Power only managed one goal for their efforts, while the Bombers’ forward line combined well to get on the scoreboard and run away as 27-point victors.
P is for Ponter goes back-to-back: After a goalless first half from Adelaide, Danielle Ponter came to the rescue again with consecutive goals within two minutes, taking her tally to six goals from four games after returning from injury.
Q is for Questioning the Kangas’ credentials: This time last week, many teams would have been scared to face North Melbourne in a qualifying final, but now sitting eighth and with a tough path to the decider, the momentum may have swung against the club at the worst time possible.
R is for Ruthless aggression: In a wet contest at Alberton Oval on Sunday, players from both Essendon and Port Adelaide approached the contest with high levels of aggression. With 10 tackles, Jacqui Yorston was the standout for Port, while Essendon’s Ashleigh Van Loon and Madison Prespakis were just as competitive, laying nine and eight tackles respectively. The game eventually opened up a bit more as the rain disappeared, but it was a back-and-forth affair for most of the day.
S is for Sharing the love: The well-oiled machine that is the Brisbane Lions were firing on all cylinders against Collingwood. Three players kicked two goals each (Courtney Hodder, Taylor Smith and Jesse Wardlaw) with Wardlaw’s second tying the all-time AFLW goal-kicking season record at 19.
T is for The final farewell: In Saturday night’s clash, two legends of the game bid goodbye. Hawthorn’s Jess Duffin and Fremantle’s Kiara Antonio played their last-ever games after announcing that they both would be retiring at the season’s end. Whilst both ladies each provided significant contributions for their sides, it was Fremantle who helped to send out Antonio in victorious fashion.
U is for Unbelievable finish: Bombers forward Daria Bannister kicked two goals on the weekend, and it was the first of those two that could be a contender for goal of the year. Sliding across the wet grass to keep the ball in play, Bannister received the ball back and threw it on the outside of her boot for a six-pointer. It was a remarkable kick from the boundary and one that also gave Essendon some breathing room in the second quarter.
V is for Voila! Magical goals galore: The eventual dead rubber clash between the Giants and the Suns certainly didn’t feel like it, as both sides pulled out all the tricks at their disposal in front of goal. Ashanti Bush produced one of the best goals of the season in the very last home and away game with a running goal outside of the boot, while Georgia Garnett snapped truly after a brilliant roving effort from a one-on-one contest.
W is for Wasteful Dees left wondering: The Demons entered the first break with three goals and five behinds on their way to a huge 78-point win over the Eagles. All five behinds were simple enough shots at goal that will stick in the mind of the Melbourne forwards as it fell just one point short of the minor Premiership.
X is for X-tremely comprehensive win: In a result that many expected it was the Cats’ big guns that came to play on Saturday against the Swans. The Cats kicked the highest score in their history, Chloe Scheer (four goals) was lively in front of goal with supply coming from both Amy McDonald (34 disposals) and Georgie Prespakis (27 disposals).
Y is for Young gun: Although Hawthorn wasn’t able to end its season on a high, there are a number of positives that it can take from Saturday night. One such positive is no doubt Charlotte Baskaran. The 17-year-old midfielder lit up Fremantle Oval with her performance, continuing to show that the future is bright for the Hawks. Baskaran finished the night with a goal and 14 disposals.
Z Is for Zero in the last: West Coast didn’t manage a single goal as its season came to a bitter close on Saturday evening. The Eagles were dealt a 79-1 thrashing at the hands of the Melbourne Demons, bringing their campaign to a bitter end as they finished 16th with only two wins.
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