17/04/2024
The AFLW of Round Five

There were some memorable moments on every day this weekend. (Pictures: @RichmondWomens; @CollingwoodAFLW; @hawthornaflw)

The halfway mark of AFLW has seen another expansion side break their duck, while a competition powerhouse reaches historic heights.

The Inner Sanctum takes you through Round 5, complete from A-Z. The defining highs, lows and controversies surrounding Round 5 of AFLW season seven.

A is for A milestone to forget: GWS captain Alicia Eva notched up her 50th game in the record loss to the Adelaide Crows. As Eva often is, she was a stand-out for her team alongside Tarni Evans and Alyce Parker. She amassed 18 disposals, three marks and four tackles throughout her milestone match. 

B is for Big defensive efforts: With the ladder-leading Lions looking to avoid their first defeat, it took a team defensive effort to seal the upset for the Tigers. Dakota Davidson’s decision to play on after a strong mark opened the window for Gabby Seymour to smother her kick and Libby Graham punched through another late shot from Sophie Conway, saving the victory. 

C is for Captain’s performance: Following a goalless opening term against the Power, the Gold Coast Suns were in desperate need of some reward on the scoreboard. Enter Tara Bohanna. The Suns skipper provided a strong aerial presence inside forward 50, kicking a goal in each of the last three quarters to finish the match with three goals to her name.

D is for Dockers Derby Dominance: They had a major scare from the much-improved Eagles, but the Dockers were able to keep their perfect Western Derby record intact for another season. In the fifth edition of the match-up, Fremantle swung the tide late to retain bragging rights over its state rival.

E is for Electrifying football at last: The Cats have had plenty of critics this year with their low-scoring, drag-out games that had many question how they would be able to handle better opposition. Thursday night was a complete change from the norm as they used scintillating pace and rebounding from the back half to tear through the Saints midfield and into attack. Cats’ coach Dan Lowther was impressed post-game and it was clear to see why, as they piled on 11 goals using their new approach.

F is for Fiery encounter: With several Port Adelaide players lining up against their former club, Sunday’s clash with Gold Coast was filled with flashpoints. The final term in particular saw multiple off-the-ball free-kicks paid, as tempers flared between the two sides. A late bump from Ange Foley on Gold Coast’s Kalinda Howarth sparked some niggle, only for a reversal to be given which led to a Foley goal. 

G is for Gun duo: Ebony Marinoff and Anne Hatchard continue to form one of the best one-two punches in the competition. The Adelaide Crows’ midfield dynamic duo combined in a comprehensive win for 64 disposals, four goals, seven marks, 17 tackles and 13 clearances. 

H is for Harris’ Heroics: The return of Tayla Harris back in the Melbourne squad was much welcomed. A goal in the opening quarter set up what would be a bright night for the footballer. Harris was one of the standouts at Ikon Park during Melbourne’s win. She finished the night off in grand style with 11 disposals and five marks. Harris was a prominent part of her side’s win, bagging three goals including a massive kick from 50 for the first of the match.

I is for In terrific touch: Having made her AFLW return last week, Ash Brazill went up another level in the first quarter against Essendon with 11 disposals to set the tone for the Pies early. ‘Braz’ was well-held from there, but her job was done, and soon Collingwood took control. 

J is for Just doing what she does best: Often you run out of words to describe Maddy Prespakis, just as often as she puts on a clinic for her side. 31 disposals including 17 contested, as well as five clearances and a goal, what more can you say?

K is for Killer Crows notch up a record: The Adelaide Crows took a hold of a hapless Giants outfit at Unley Oval on Sunday. The Crows recorded both their highest ever AFLW score of 97 points as well as the biggest winning margin in a game (96 points). The Giants also recorded the equal lowest score of one point. 

L is for Ladder Leading Lions Lose: AFLW fans were left gobsmacked when the Lions, who had a percentage of 322 going into the game against Richmond, were defeated by four points at Punt Road Oval. The Lions were left to rue wayward kicking against the Tigers, with a wasteful 1.8 including the last three scores of the match, all behinds. 

M is for Move over, Turbo: For the first time in the Western Derby, Kiara Bowers was not awarded the best on ground medal. Last season she shared it with Ebony Antonio, but this time, it was skipper Hayley Miller’s turn. After a modest start to the season, she exploded in the second half against the Eagles, finishing with 26 disposals, nine clearances, eight tackles and two score involvements.

Hayley Miller with her best on ground medal. (Photo: AFL))

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N is for Not wayward, thankfully. With the wind causing havoc and goals at a premium, Richmond was glad to have at least one player on target. Courtney Wakefield kicked the first goal of the game for the Tigers, then added what turned out to be the game-winning goal in the third. She kicked more goals than the entire Brisbane side, sealing its first defeat in season seven.  

O is for Off to the races: Perhaps the biggest indication that Hawthorn was going to get its first win on the board was an amazing passage of play that started in the backline and ended with Aileen Gilroy’s goal to put the Hawks in front, a lead they would not relinquish.

P is for Prosperous Pressure: It was a good day at the office for the Dees, as they dominated the entirety of the game. In the thrilling contest, not even the rainy conditions could put a stop to the pressure that they were piling on. The in-form women in red and blue managed to keep the Blues at bay, only allowing them to score eight points (one goal, two behinds) by the end of the night.

Q is for Questioning the Saints’ credentials: The Saints experienced a dream start to the year, winning two games from two and looked set to improve from a poor sixth season in the AFLW. Unfortunately for them, they’ve lost their last three, including this week’s thumping to the Cats, and face the ever-dangerous Pies in their next match. Will this spell danger for the Saints’ maiden finals hopes?

R is for Roo-bound is on: After its worst start to an AFLW season in club history, North Melbourne has steadied the ship with two wins on the trot to start knocking on the door of the top four. The Roos were the better side when it mattered against the Bulldogs, winning just their second final quarter of season seven. With a heavyweight battle against the Lions to come in two weeks, they’re hitting their stride at the right time.

S is for Scintillating Suns midfield: A highly talented Suns midfield continues to emerge before our eyes. Against Port Adelaide, there were several contributors to the side’s 14-point victory, including Charlie Rowbottom (27 disposals, eight clearances), Claudia Whitfort (17 disposals), Alison Drennan (16 disposals, 10 tackles) and Ellie Hampson (14 disposals, one goal). 

T is for Time to talk about this Cats midfield: With many conversations surrounding who has the best midfield in the competition, the Cats have slowly but surely built an undeniable juggernaut at the coal face. The likes of Amy McDonald, Nina Morrison and Georgie Prespakis have been phenomenal all season for Geelong and continued their fine form in Round 5. McDonald was especially impressive, gathering a ridiculous 34 disposals, 10 tackles and 11 clearances.

U is for Unbelievable: There aren’t that many more words that can be used for this Goal of the Year contender from Chloe Molloy, that came shortly before halftime. Her major saw the Pies take the lead from the plucky Bombers and stay ahead for the remainder of the match. 

V is for Victory at last: One of Sydney or Hawthorn was going to walk away from Punt Rd Oval with its very first win, but early on, it looked like it was not going to be Bec Goddard and the Hawks. However thanks to Tahlia Fellows’ three goals, as well as a lift around the ground, the Hawks were able to salute for the first time in AFLW.

W is for Wilcox Working Wonders: She’s already earned a Rising Star nomination, but pacey youngster Rylie Wilcox is showing just why the Bulldogs were so keen to draft her. Kicking two goals along with her 10 disposals and three marks, she wouldn’t let the game die in the loss to the Kangaroos. Her speed has had a major influence on coach Nathan Burke’s game-plan, giving his side a dynamic presence both on the wing and at ground level in the forwardline.

X is for Xtra-ordinary start: Swans fans were treated to their side at its very best in a way they had yet to achieve so far in AFLW. Brooke Lochland was at her dangerous best, kicking the Swans’ first three goals. When Rebecca Privitelli added the fourth, the Swans were breathing fire. Although things petered out from there, fans can at least take some solace in what their side can achieve at their best. 

Y is for Young Eagles to get their wings: West Coast may have gone down by the slimmest of margins in Thursday’s Derby, but many of the side’s youngsters can hold their heads high. Bella Lewis was the best player for her side with 25 disposals and a goal, Sarah Lakay set an AFLW record for hit-outs, while Charlie Thomas, Jaide Britton, Courtney Rowley, Abbygail Bushby and Ella Roberts played important roles.

Z Is for Zooming to the top of the count: North Melbourne’s Jasmine Garner has been one of the competition’s brightest stars for years now. But with less pressure to push forward in recent weeks, she’s been able to explode as a pure midfielder and is every chance to feature heavily in the votes for the league best and fairest not only this week but weeks prior too. 27 disposals, eight clearances and seven marks should see another three-vote game for one of the league’s top contested players.

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