05/03/2024
AFLW A-Z of Round One

Four more clubs have made their mark on the AFLW, with mixed results. (Picture: Essendonfc, Sydneyfc, Hawthornfc, PAFC/Twitter, Design by Will Cuckson)

AFLW got underway for the second time in 2022, and the four new teams proved to be hard to handle on the opening weekend, among other highlights.

The Inner Sanctum takes you through Round One, complete from A-Z. The defining highs, lows and controversies surrounding Round One of AFLW Season Seven.

A is For A-Tier Midfield: Melbourne Demons midfielders Olivia Purcell, Karen Paxman and Eliza West were in blistering form to scorch their Adelaide counterparts. West was hugely influential with 25 disposals alongside Paxman (24 and a goal) and Purcell (22). Tyla Hanks was also solid with 17 disposals, three marks, two tackles and a goal.

B is For Bec’s Bomb: Rebecca Privitelli etched her name in the history books with the Swans first-ever goal in AFLW. Privitelli found a mark halfway through the first quarter and made no mistake in getting the Swans on the board in their debut game. 

C is For Crisis averted: Having only scored a single point in the first quarter, the Gold Coast Suns were on the verge of breaking an unwanted record. The lowest score in AFLW history, first set by the Suns in 2021, and now held jointly with St Kilda as of last season, was just two points. A final quarter surge saw the Suns kick two goals within the last five minutes of the game, and the only goals for that quarter.

D is For DV50: Though the win wasn’t to be, inaugural Carlton forward Darcy Vescio celebrated their 50th game with a goal in the first term. In what was a rare positive for the club’s season opener, Vescio becomes the first player to bring up 50 AFLW games for Carlton and holds the lead for all-time AFLW goal-kicking over Port Adelaide’s Erin Phillips by two majors.

E is For Enthusiasm: What Hawthorn lacked in experience and know-how, they made up for with youth and enthusiasm.  From the opening minutes, Jasmine Fleming was buzzing around the midfield.  Zoe Barbakos was a livewire in the forward line, finishing with two goals that came from staying in the contest.  And then there was THAT opening goal from Sophie Locke.  Hawk supporters will enjoy watching these girls this season.

F is For Final Quarter surge: West Coast was trailing by two goals going into the last break against Port Adelaide but a stunning final quarter performance gave the Eagles their first round one victory since entering the competition in 2020. The Eagles kicked four answered goals in the final quarter with all four goals coming from turnovers in that last quarter from Kate Bartlett, Aisling McCarthy, Mikayla Western and Aimee Schmidt.

G is For Gaps filled: There was a bit of uncertainty surrounding the Western Bulldogs’ forward set-up going into this season, after the losses of former league-leading goalkicker Brooke Lochland and last season’s leading goalkicker at the club, Bonnie Toogood. However, those uncertainties were settled quickly, with Celine Moody and Gabby Newton making themselves at home up forward, slotting two goals each for the Doggies in their first win of the year.

H is For Hodder the Highlights package: There seems to be a new package in town and it’s based at the Gabba. Courtney Hodder was electrifying for the Lions in their opening clash against Fremantle. With 2 amazing crumbing goals and 15 disposals to go with her performance, it complemented the dominant display by Brisbane. If you see a pack inside 50 make sure you’re looking at the ground because Hodder is bound to pounce.

I is For ‘Imo’ unleashed: Young Queenslander Imogen Evans has made a quick impression on teammates and coaches alike after her scintillating debut against Carlton. Taken post-draft after nominating for her home state but failing to get selected by Brisbane or Gold Coast, she showed off her hardness at the contest and her opposition with her tackling pressure. She’s got plenty of class at ground level too, kicking a beautiful snap off a tap down from Sabrina Frederick. Evans may find herself in trouble with the tribunal, however, after laying a dangerous tackle on Daisy Walker in the second term.

J is For Joint milestone: A special start to season seven, as North Melbourne duo Jasmine Garner and Emma Kearney celebrated their 50th game. Garner collected a game-high 27 disposals and kicked a goal, whilst Kearney had 18 touches as the Roo girls got the win.

K is For Kauffman with Potential: It was not Fremantle’s day but a positive sign was Megan Kauffman. Nine disposals and a crucial goal at the time, there is plenty to like about Megan and how she goes about it. One to watch for Dockers fans.

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L is For Lively as ever: Despite the loss for the Giants, Cora Staunton has carried her form into Season Seven, after finishing as the club’s leading goalkicker for each of the last three seasons. Booting three of the Giants’ five goals on Sunday, Staunton kept them in the game against the Bulldogs, and with new recruit Isabel Huntington out of the side, she will be crucial for the club in the meantime, as they try to push up the AFLW ladder.

M is For McCarthy Magic: Despite having the job on Port Adelaide Captain Erin Phillips, Aisling McCarthy was able to float up forward and make an impact. A stunning goal saw the McCarthy side step two Port Adelaide defenders and then a left foot snap to put the Eagle within five points of Port Adelaide. McCarthy was also one of the best players on the ground, finishing the match with 18 disposals and one goal. 

N is For Neck and neck battle: The Western Bulldogs and GWS Giants played out a tight game at IKON Park on Sunday afternoon. The Giants started well, taking a one-point lead into the first change before the Bulldogs struck back with one and two-goal leads in the main break and three-quarter time break respectively. While the Giants did look eager to claw their way to a win in the final term, the Dogs eventually held on and walked out with a seven-point win in a hard-fought battle. 

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O is For Occasion: It was all about the occasion when Essendon took on Hawthorn; the last two of the four debutante teams to take their bows.  12,092 people filed in to watch a game that was transferred from North Port Oval to the Marvel Stadium, and by heck, did they make a racket!  The club cheer squads made their presence felt, and the players did their efforts justice in a pulsating encounter.

P is For Pressure on Point: While the overall result didn’t go the way Port Adelaide was planning, the Powers’ pressure in and around the contest was a stand out in the clubs debut game. Port Adelaide were plus 36 on the tackle count, finishing the match with 92 tackles. Jacqui Yorston and Maria Moloney were the standouts when it came to tackle pressure for the Power having 10 and 14 tackles respectively 

Q is For Quality Debut: Eilish Sheerin waited a long time to make her AFLW debut. The 29-year-old was selected with the 58th pick in the 2022 AFLW draft. Richmond chose to pick for positional need and chose a player passed over by other teams multiple times. After seeing Sheerin’s debut, wherein she amassed 19 disposals, 16 interceptions, and 4 tackles, including one that, should Prespakis have missed her kick for goal in the final minute, would surely have been seen as a game-saving tackle. If this debut is a sign of things to come, buckle up Tigers’ fans, you have yourselves a good one.

R is For Roo beauty:  North Melbourne started its season off in perfect fashion, with star defender/forward Tahlia Randall kicking a career-best three goals, whilst a goal each to Jasmine Garner, Sophia McCarthy and Kimberley Rennie helped lead the Roos to a 26 point victory over the Suns.

S is For Some Legends hit 50 games: On Friday night two AFLW legends celebrated their 50-game milestones. Starting her AFLW journey at the Lions then the Blues, Demons forward Tayla Harris was quiet early but got on the scoreboard for a goal, four marks, three tackles and 13 disposals. Adelaide midfielder Anne Hatchard was arguably the best for her team in the loss, she had 24 disposals, three marks, six tackles and four clearances. 

T is For Tall Order: Against an undersized Swans defence, Kate Shierlaw came to feast at North Sydney Oval. After just three goals in total last season, Shierlaw kicked four for the night, almost outscoring the Swans on her own. 

U is For Understanding your recruiting strategy: Essendon’s jewel in its recruiting crown was its acquisition of Maddy Prespakis.  There is no doubt that she is a genuine star, but the other part of the strategy was making sure they had the finishers further up the ground.  The recruitment of Jess Wuetschnar, Bonnie Toogood and Sophie Alexander bore immediate fruit, the trio responsible for four of the Bombers’ seven goals.

V is For Versatile: Richmond dominated the opening half, and Geelong were fortunate that the Tigers were profligate in front of goal. Dan Lowther moved Chloe Scheer from forward to midfield, and Geelong immediately saw results. Prespakis scored her first goal to get the Cats in the goal column, and Amy McDonald and Nina Morrison each collected a monstrous 24 disposals. McDonald hadn’t managed a single touch in the second quarter but collected 14 of those 24 touches in the second half. Lowther refused to sacrifice defence for offence, maintaining a plus one in defence right up until Prespakis put the team in front for good in the final minute of the match.

W is For Welcome Back G: Sorely missed last season, Georgia Patrikios didn’t take long to re-establish herself in the Saints line-up. Patrikios had 17 disposals, equal game leader with Tarni White,  and provided plenty of pressure with five tackles as well. 

X is For X-tra special goal: Jordan Membrey became known for her sharpshooting in 2020, winning Collingwood’s leading goalkicker award with seven goals straight. Cruelled by an ACL injury filled with setbacks, she finally made her return to footy after 543 days on Thursday night. Membrey’s first-quarter goal was her 12th straight without a point, and it was clear what it meant to her and her teammates as soon as it went through.

Y is For You Bodey Beauty: It didn’t take long for Greta Bodey to kick start where she left off in the opening season 7 game for the Lions. Deep in the pocket, on the run banana in front of the home fans, the Dockers were left clueless. It was a near certainty for a goal of the week contender. 

Z Is For Zealous commitment to defence: The Richmond v Geelong game proved that you don’t need 100 points scored between both teams to create an exciting contest. Although the 15-11 scoreline resulted from such zealous commitment to defence, the game was no less compelling and made Georgie Prespakis’ two-goal contribution the stuff of legends.

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