AFLW A-Z of Round Seven

Finals are beginning to heat up, and the contenders made sure to stay ahead of the curve this week. (Pictures: @RichmondW; @CrowsAFLW; @CollingwoodAFLW)

AFLW finals are less than a month away, and a few bolters are one step closer to a maiden finals berth, while others are running out of time.

The Inner Sanctum takes you through Round 7, complete from A-Z. These are the defining highs, lows and controversies surrounding Round 7 of AFLW season seven.

A is for Aggressive footy: Having gone without a win since Round 2, and playing some uninspiring football, something had to change for Carlton against St Kilda. It was clear from the first bounce that Daniel Harford had gotten to work with his players during the week. They came out with a much more aggressive, attacking style of football, which the Saints had no answer to. With Darcy Vescio embracing their new role off half-back, and their stars in good form, the Blues were brilliant all night.

B is for Brilliance, Scheer Brilliance: Geelong’s Chloe Scheer gave her side the final quarter spark it needed to conclude a brilliant day out in Warrnambool. Holding off the charging Bombers, she kicked two of her three goals in the final term, along with taking a huge eight marks. The defenders couldn’t find the right match-up for her, as she was the clear influence up forward.

Chloe Scheer kicks one of her three goals against Essendon. (Photo: AFL)

C is for Captain Chiocci reaches 50 games: A trailblazer of the league in Collingwood captain Steph Chiocci reached 50 games this round, becoming the first AFLW player to captain a club across 50 games. The icing on the cake for Chiocci came in the final quarter, where she kicked a goal with a snap on the goal line in a strong win.

D is for Dominant Display: Breann Moody was immense in the ruck for Carlton on Friday night, collecting 22 hit-outs and getting on the board with two goals. She also had help from Jess Good, who had 21 hit-outs of her own. St Kilda has been unlucky in the ruck, with the concussion suffered by Erin McKinnon two weeks ago and the injury to Simon Nalder during the game. The Blues pairing had prime opportunity to dominate the Saints’ talls all over RSEA Park, and it was a key reason for their victory.

E is for Egan to finish it off: When the Eagles looked set to turn the game on its head and cause a boil-over, it fell to Grace Egan to slam the door shut on their hopes. The Tigers midfielder kicked the last two goals of the match, ensuring they would leave with the four points and one step closer to a maiden finals berth.

F is for Fight for Finals Footy: The Bulldogs’ defeat to the Demons on Sunday has seen them fall out of the top eight, with the Suns moving up one position to take the final spot. The Dogs now have their backs against the wall but have a favourable run home, taking on the Saints, Blues and Eagles in their final three matches. They will be undoubtedly rocked by the hefty defeat against their old rivals, and will need to regain their confidence if they are to return to the top eight.

G is for Golden Gould: Caitlin Gould is stepping up for the Crows in a big way this season. Playing as the mainstay ruck alongside Montana McKinnon, Gould is helping the Crows become more dominant in the midfield through her ruck work. She contributed 24 hit-outs, one clearance, four marks, three tackles and ten disposals to her 2.1 in a solid performance.

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H is for Hawks make it three wins in a row: Hawthorn has won its third game in a row, with a gutsy 13-point victory over Port Adelaide following on from wins against Sydney and West Coast. Experts weren’t expecting the Hawks to win many games in their first season, but coach Bec Goddard’s group of youngsters have come in with a winning belief. They’re willing to learn and play an exciting tough brand of footy. While finals might be out of reach this season, be sure to look out for the Hawks next year and beyond.

I is for Injury scare: With Brisbane leading as the final moments of the game ticked over, North Melbourne received a final opportunity to get a goal on the board. Sophie Abbatangelo’s final shot at goal almost looked to be oddly impacted after a boundary umpire collapsed with a cramp and couldn’t move off the ground. The umpire appeared to be okay afterwards, but North Melbourne wasn’t able to make it across the line in its seven-point loss.

J is for Jones’ magic goal: With torrid conditions at Henson Park, Courtney Jones kicked a contender for goal of the year. Jones grabbed the slippery Sherrin in the forward pocket, and smartly snapped a checkside kick between the sticks to boost her side’s chances of a top-eight spot.

K is for Kick it like Chloe: Chloe Molloy had a strong performance in the game against the Giants at Victoria Park, kicking two goals for the match. This include the opening goal, where she kicked a snap which weaved its way past several players who were in the goal square. 

L is for Leaping Tayla’s MOTY contender: Tayla Harris began with the first goal of the game on Sunday, and was damaging throughout the entire contest against the Bulldogs. Her best moment came in the second quarter, when she came across the front of a pack and reeled in an outstanding one-handed mark. The Casey Fields crowd erupted for their star forward, who is putting together another impressive season in front of goal.

M is for Make her earn it: There may be few players more dangerous in AFLW right now than Monique Conti, and in the first quarter against West Coast, she looked set to break yet another game open. From there, however, Conti was made to earn every possession, with constant pressure and several tags holding her to an 18-disposal game that could have been a lot more damaging. 

N is for No luck for the Dockers: In some way, it was a day to forget for the Dockers with injuries to key personnel resulting from their game against the Crows. Janelle Cuthbertson and Gabby O’Sullivan were ruled out during the contest due to ankle and shoulder injuries respectively. Hayley Miller and Sarah Wielstra continued throughout the game despite facial and knee niggles during the contest. 

O is for Opportunistic: A glance at the disposal count shows a different story than what played out during the match between Brisbane and North Melbourne. With a combined total of 209 disposals, it was North Melbourne who won the ball-winning battle. But throughout the four quarters, a performance filled with missed opportunities and shots at goals from the Kangaroos resulted in the Brisbane Lions coming out with the win by the final siren despite only having 192.

P is for Paxman as tough as nails: In a surprise to no one, Demons superstar Karen Paxman showed exactly why she’s one of the toughest players in the competition on Sunday. After starting the game on fire, Paxman collided with teammate Lauren Pearce in the second term and had blood flowing from her head. After being given the all-clear to return, Paxman, with head strapped, collected 19 disposals and was one of the best on the day.

Q is for Quick out of the square: Gold Coast’s drubbing of Sydney started in the centre square. Sydney kicked the first goal after intense pressure early, but Gold Coast immediately and easily responded. Lauren Bella secured the hit-out, and the ball was launched to Jacqui Dupuy who made no mistake in putting Gold Coast ahead for good. Coach Scott Gowans was particularly disappointed with the Swans’ inability to contest in the ruck, particularly out of the centre.

R is for Record-breaker: Maddy Prespakis collected 37 disposals against Geelong to claim the record for the second-most touches in an AFLW game. In her career-best outing, her performance is second only to North Melbourne’s Ash Riddell, who had 42 disposals in Round 10 of season six against West Coast.

S is for Swanson’s Silky Snaps: There’s not much that Emma Swanson isn’t capable of doing when leading the Eagles girls: another 19 disposals, nine tackles and four marks was capped off with an incredible goal from the boundary that saw the Eagles remain in the hunt late.

T is for Terrific Tilly: Tilly Lucas-Rodd celebrated her 50th AFLW game in style with a best-on-ground performance in a fantastic win against Port Adelaide. The ex-Saint and Blues midfielder had an excellent game, gathering 19 possessions, nine tackles and capped her night off kicking the last goal of the match. The inspirational skipper was mobbed by jubilant teammates after the siren, showing how much she means to the side.

U is for Under the pump, crumbling again: Essendon has had a rotten run in close games in its inaugural AFLW season, falling once again on Sunday to Geelong. The Bombers tied scores at three quarter-time before being run over in the final term. This echoes losses to the Magpies (trailing by five points at three quarter-time), Tigers (trailing by six points) and the Blues (trailing by 21 points to lose by one point). They are still a young team, and will take plenty away from these close encounters in the future.

V is for Vicious learning cycle: Each week, Sydney Swans head coach Scott Gowans mentions that the team will focus on a different aspect of their game, disregarding the scoreboard. The team has endured a handful of drubbings as a result. This week against the Suns, the focus was contested possessions. Sydney acquitted itself well, but as a result of throwing more bodies into the centre, the forwards couldn’t capitalise up front when they gained possession.

W is for Wasteful Power: Port Adelaide was wasteful in its disappointing loss to the Hawks. In the first quarter, they dominated play with 14 inside 50s, but the score unfortunately didn’t reflect this as the Power kicked a measly one goal, four behinds. Port had more scoring shots during the match (11 to the Hawks’ nine), and more inside 50s (32 to 23) but just couldn’t make the most of the opportunities which frustrated coach Lauren Arnell. The Power desperately need Gemma Houghton back from injury to provide that extra support up forward.

X is for X-hilirating star match-up: A side story in the Swans vs. Suns contest was an intriguing midfield battle between Montana Ham and Charlie Rowbottom, the first-overall draft picks from the 2022 and 2021 drafts respectively. Although Ham rotated to the forward and back lines during the contest, she did not shy away from the challenge. The more experienced Rowbottom got the edge in round one of this battle, finishing with the victory and a game-high 22 possessions, but Ham will use this experience to continue her impressive growth.

Y is for Young stars shining bright: The futures of the Carlton and St Kilda midfields are in good hands, with youngsters from each group continuing to develop strongly. Abbie McKay and Mimi Hill were outstanding for the Blues, collecting 26 disposals each while moving the ball well and creating plenty for their teammates out of the contest. Despite the loss, Saints youngsters Georgia Patrikios and Olivia Vesely were both impressive as well, giving the Blues pairing plenty to deal with by laying nine and eight tackles respectively throughout the game.

Z Is for Zero in a half: It wasn’t the first half that the Giants were looking for on Sunday, with the young side not converting a score in the first half of the match. Collingwood controlled the possession for most of the match, and when the ball went inside 50 in the opening half, the defence held it up. The Giants were able to kick two goals in the second half however, through defender Jodie Hicks and Brodee Mowbray, in what was her first AFLW major.

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