HERE’S a quick look back at the opening round of the NAB AFL Women’s competition.
- Fremantle, 9.5 (59) v Melbourne
- Carlton, 2.4 (16) v North Melbourne
- Ebony Marinoff (Adelaide), 24
- Ally Anderson (Brisbane), 22
- Emily Bates (Brisbane), 22
- Nina Morrison (Geelong), 22
- Karen Paxman (Melbourne), 21
- Jess Wuetschner (Brisbane), 3
Overall leading goalkicker
- Jess Wuetschner (Brisbane), 3
- Most marks – 11, Lauren Spark (Western Bulldogs)
- Most intercept marks – 5, Lauren Spark (Western Bulldogs)
- Most kick-ins – 11, Hannah Scott (Western Bulldogs)
A scoring quirk in a family affair
Geelong’s final score of 3.6 (24) in its first AFLW match was identical to the club’s total in its debut League game at Geelong’s Corio Oval on May 8, 1897. On Saturday night, Georgie Rankin (a late inclusion) played her maiden match for the Cats, about 122 years after her great great-grandfather Teddy Rankin made his debut in the blue and white hoops.
- Shae Sloane (Melbourne), right ACL
- Aimee Schmidt (Greater Western Sydney), left elbow
- Sophie Alexander (Collingwood), concussion
- Phoebe McWilliams (Geelong, late withdrawal), hamstring
- Nina Morrison kicked the match-winning point in a great debut. Her 22-disposal best-on-ground performance proved she was worthy of being the No.1 pick in October’s NAB AFLW Draft.
- Both sides backed their youngsters. Sophie Van De Heuvel worked well with Morrison through the middle, while Olivia Purcell and Denby Taylor made lively debuts for the Cats. Jordyn Allen impressed for the Pies, slotting into a backline having to adjust without 2018 NAB AFLW Rising Star Chloe Molloy.
- The Pies’ netball recruit Sharni Layton will need more time to adapt to the game after giving away a protected area 50m penalty that saw the Cats kick their first goal. Ash Brazill, also a netballer, looked comfortable in defence for Collingwood.
- The Cats impressed with a side consisting largely of VFLW recruits and draftees. And they’re likely to show a lot more, with star recruits Melissa Hickey and Richelle Cranston set to return in coming weeks.
- First-gamer Sophie Alexander showed plenty up forward for the Magpies before an errant elbow from a teammate left her with a concussion.
- Co-captain Katie Brennan kicked both goals to give the Dogs the win in a low-scoring affair, despite being generally well-held. Co-captain Ellie Blackburn was busy through the midfield with 18 disposals, while Adelaide superstar Erin Phillips was influential with 18 touches.
- Debutant Chloe Scheer was the only goalkicker for the Crows, who weren’t able to capitalise on their midfield ascendancy. Adelaide finished the match with 14 more clearances and four more shots at goal, but was inaccurate.
- With the Crows continuously attacking, defender Lauren Spark became the most important player for the Dogs, finishing with 14 disposals and an AFLW-best 11 marks.
- Ebony Marinoff was Adelaide’s best midfielder, with a game-high 25 disposals and 10 tackles. Marinoff has now laid 168 tackles in 16 AFLW matches.
- Expansion club North Melbourne made an ominous debut, having a round-high 17 shots at goal for a final score of 7.10 (52),
- Carlton kicked just two goals, one after a controversial 50m penalty after captain Brianna Davey appeared to drop a mark.
- Three of North Melbourne's best players – Jasmine Garner, Jess Duffin and Emma King – all joined the club from Collingwood during the off-season.
- Maddy Prespakis made a strong debut for Carlton, playing on the ball, but needs more midfield support (aside from the tireless Katie Loynes).
- Carlton debutant (and Collingwood VFLW captain) Jess Edwards did well to hold 2018 competition best and fairest Emma Kearney to 18 touches, while North mid/forward Ash Riddell won't fly under the radar for long after a best-afield effort.
- This was the second-highest scoring game of the round, with 114 points between the two sides (in a match that went for around 75 minutes).
- Fremantle's rejigged forward line of Ebony Antonio, Gemma Houghton and debutant Sabreena Duffy looks to be a handful for sides this year.
- Melbourne completed a stunning 34-point turnaround in the third term, keeping the Dockers scoreless while turning a 20-point at half-time to a 14-point lead at three-quarter time.
- Young Melbourne key forward Eden Zanker had a breakout game, kicking two goals and forming a formidable combination with Tegan Cunningham.
- Fremantle midfielder Kiara Bowers made her AFLW debut after two years on the sidelines with knee injuries, finishing with 13 disposals and an equal-round high of 12 tackles. She also kicked a vital fourth-quarter goal. Coach Trent Cooper called on the Dockers, who trailed by 14 points at three-quarter time, not to let the opportunity to notch a first-ever interstate win go to waste. Bowers, making her return 921 days after a third ACL rupture, starred in the final term, kicking the momentum-swinging goal as the Dockers stormed to a four-point triumph. "I don't know if you saw at the end, I was pretty emotional," Bowers said on Monday. "But all the way up until the end, final siren, I kept it in check just thinking 'you know what, I can't stand here crying at three-quarter time, I'm going to go out there and do what I can for the team and everything I could'." Bowers finished her first AFLW match with 13 disposals and 12 crunching tackles in an inspirational performance. "It was a long time between games, I had a bit of anger to put out (in those tackles)," she said with a laugh. "I've definitely got things to work on. But it was good to know that I'm still rated by my team and I can go out there and do what I'm meant to do, not just go out there and fill a spot." Bowers had doubts if she could get back to her best and pondered giving the game away, but the Dockers' backing kept the 27-year-old going. "How can you throw it away when you've got that many people supporting you?" she said.
- Brisbane's defence seems set to be a force again – it held the Giants to just 23 inside-50s, the fewest of any side.
- Ireland duo Yvonne Bonner and Cora Staunton look set to cause opposition headaches, their timing and instinctive game sense impressing in Bonner's first official game of Australian Football.
- Lauren Bella will be a very important choice for Brisbane this year, the ruck combining well with Emily Bates, especially in the middle of the ground.
- The Giants have one of the deepest midfields in the competition, with debutants Alyce Parker and Haneen Zreika looking comfortable at the top level, Jodie Hicks and Rebecca Beeson taking a significant step up and Courtney Gum, Jess Dal Pos and Alicia Eva combining well with ruck Erin McKinnon.