For all the success of the AFL Women’s Round 1 on the field, and there was plenty of it, there are four teams who had to face some hard truths during the week as they look to put disappointing Round 1 performances behind them and rebound in what is a short season.
With only seven weeks of home and away football in the AFLW, the pressure is on Collingwood, Fremantle, GWS and Melbourne to notch important wins this week and get things back on track.
Western Bulldogs v Adelaide, Whitten Oval, 7.35pm AEDT, Friday February 10
The round opens on Friday night with two of the more impressive winners of last week, the Western Bulldogs and Adelaide, facing off at Whitten Oval.
The Dogs held Fremantle to a single goal and they won comfortably by 32 points to open the season, confirming their status as one of the teams to beat for the inaugural premiership.
Emma Kearney was dominant with 23 touches as the Dogs controlled possession, with clever use of handball and patient build-up play allowing them to create 13 more inside 50s than their opponents.
Coach Paul Groves has the Dogs really well drilled but they have lost one of their better players last week headed into this game, with Jaimee Lambert out through injury, while Kirsty Lamb is suspended.
Courtney Clarkson, who along with teammate Laura Bailey is a police officer by day, and Romy Timmons, a tough inside midfielder, come into the side.
The Crows will be a tough opponent having recorded a 36-point home win over GWS last week. Ebony Marinoff and Chelsea Randall won a heap of the ball, while Olympic basketballer Erin Phillips was excellent up forward with three goals.
The Crows’ physicality around the ball will clearly be an asset this year and based on last week’s performance, they are a genuine chance at challenging for the inaugural title.
But the challenge for them is taking that strong home form on the road in what is certain to be a hotly contested opening match of the round.
They have made three changes with Jenna McCormick to make her debut after her W-League side Canberra United were knocked out of the finals last week. Sophie Armitstead and Racheal Killian also make their debuts.
Carlton v Greater Western Sydney, Ikon Park, 3.35pm AEDT, Saturday February 11
Carlton have an excellent chance to keep their perfect start to the season intact when they host the Giants in the first match of a double header on Saturday afternoon at Ikon Park.
Eight days after they created history as the first winners of an AFLW game, they return with their confidence high. In Darcy Vescio they already have a star of the competition. She was a class above in the 35-point win over the Magpies with her sure hands both in the air and when the ball hit ground a massive asset.
Brianna Davey’s class in both reading the play and winning the ball was the other standout for the Blues who will start believing they can challenge this season. A couple of injuries to Isabella Ayre and Natalie Plane sees them ruled out, while Madeline Keryk misses out. In come Kate Shierlaw, Kate Darby and Bec Privitelli.
There were plenty of bright spots for the Giants despite the six-goal loss to the Crows. They won plenty of ball around the ground, but simply couldn’t turn that into goals, with their first major not coming until the final term.
They are still without key trio Emma Swanson, Renee Forth and Louise Stephenson, which doesn’t bode well for them heading into this match, but Emily Blush does come in having finished up her W-League commitments and joins Mai Nguyen and Stephanie Walker as inclusions.
Collingwood v Melbourne, Ikon Park, 7.40pm AEDT, Saturday February 11
Neither Collingwood or Melbourne started their AFLW campaigns as they would have liked, with the Magpies seemingly overawed by the occasion against Carlton and the Demons seemingly impacted by the weather.
There will be no excuses for either team on Saturday when they front up at Ikon Park in what shapes as a must-win match already.
Collingwood dominated for long periods against Carlton, but were let down by their inability to get the ball forward in any effective way. To create one goal from 27 inside 50s is simply not good enough.
Sarah D’Arcy was a bright spot for them, but the Magpies will need to deliver the ball a lot better if they are going to make the most of Moana Hope’s abilities as a forward. They have made three changes with Penny Cula-Reid making her debut having fought 15 years ago for the right to play footy in a landmark moment in the development of the women’s game. Mel Kuys and Lou Wotton also come in.
The Demons were the disappointments of the opening round, winning every major statistical category, including the inside 50s 30-19 but losing by 15 points to the Lions.
The reality was they didn’t adapt to the conditions, and given the experience in their squad, they’ll be disappointed in that performance. There is no sense of panic for Melbourne coach Mick Stinear who has just made one change, with Sarah Jolly replacing the suspended Richelle Cranston.
Fremantle v Brisbane Lions, Fremantle Oval, 7.05pm AEDT, Sunday February 12
A first-up trip to Whitten Oval to face the Dogs was always going to be difficult or the Dockers, who return home to host the opening round’s surprise winners, the Lions, on Sunday afternoon.
You’d expect the Dockers to be a much different side in front of their home crowd having had the benefit of that trip away to sort through the kinks after a 32-point defeat.
Kara Donnellan is clearly the key to their hopes and she was their best last week in a losing effort, But she needs more help as 15 inside 50s in four quarters of footy is not going to win you many games.
Olympic javelin thrower Kim Mickle is in line for her debut, named as one of three inclusions for the Dockers along with Kelly Clinch. Both have been named on the half back line.
The Lions are on the road for a second consecutive week and will be well pleased with their opening round win. In atrocious conditions, they played clever, efficient footy, sharing the ball around, with four separate goalkickers and eight players getting double figure disposal counts.
It is a big challenge to back that up for a second week and they have included Jade Ransfield and Kate Deegan in an extended squad.