IT WAS AN eventful season to say the least for Greater Western Sydney.
After a disappointing 2019, winning just two games, the Giants recorded four wins to qualify for their first finals series, but lost to Melbourne in a devastating last quarter.
Over the next few weeks, womens.afl will look at each of the seasons of the 14 AFLW teams, kicking off proceedings with Adelaide and moving alphabetically from there.
Coach: Alan McConnell
Leadership group: Alicia Eva (captain), Jess Dal Pos, Pepa Randall, Cora Staunton, Britt Tully
2020 finishing position: Second in Conference A, four wins, two losses, 123.2 per cent. Lost a semi-final to Melbourne.
Best win: GWS 4.2 (26) defeated Adelaide 3.3 (21), round six.
There's knocking off Adelaide for the first time in four years, and there's getting the win and also qualifying for your first finals series in the process. The Giants toughed it out for four quarters, with Alyce Parker and Cora Staunton important in the victory.
Best individual performance: While Alyce Parker was also best-on against Richmond, she went to another level the following week against Adelaide. The bullocking midfielder had 30 disposals, eight inside-50s, seven marks and six clearances against a quality on-ball brigade.
Club best and fairest candidates: Alyce Parker, Elle Bennetts, Bec Privitelli, Cora Staunton
NAB AFLW Rising Star nominations: Tait Mackrill (round six)
Debutants: Emily Goodsir, Sarah Halvorsen, Annalyse Lister, Lisa Steane
Retirees: Amanda Farrugia
Most improved: It's one of the stories of the season. Bec Privitelli played for Carlton in 2017 and GWS in 2018 and was then delisted. She loved the club so much she stayed on as merchandise coordinator, before being redrafted. The forward ended the 2020 season with six goals and one of the mainstays of the side.
Star recruit: Jess Allan was a very handy acquisition for the Giants, the former Crow forming a tough ruck combination with Erin McKinnon. The Giants had the best "hitouts to advantage" average in the competition
Unsung hero: Sydney Sixes cricketer Jodie Hicks had her best AFLW season to date, rotating through the middle and across half-forward to great effect. While Parker, Alicia Eva and Bec Beeson get most of the attention in the Giants' midfield, Hicks doesn't let the standard slip when on the ball.
- The forward-line combination. It took a couple of matches to get there, and unfortunately Ingrid Neilsen was squeezed out as the Giants struggled to rotate three rucks through their side, but the mix of Privitelli, Cora Staunton and Aimee Schmidt worked well.
- Elle Bennetts across half-back. A netballer with the Sydney Swifts during the off-season, Bennetts had played primarily on the wing up until this year. Putting her behind the ball was a good move, as she shored up the backline and was a strong interceptor. Her form has been rewarded with selection in the All Australian squad.
What needs improvement:
- Whether it's lapses in concentration or a touch of panic under pressure, GWS had a rollercoaster of a season, culminating in letting a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter of the semi-final slip. The loss to Brisbane was very poor, but the win against Adelaide was excellent. Minimising that gap is the next step.
- Accuracy in front of goal was an issue throughout the season. The Giants were the second-best side at scoring once inside 50, but had the third-worst accuracy in the competition, ahead of only West Coast and Richmond.
Season in a song: What Happened to Us (Jess Mauboy). Unfortunately, the Giants' season will be remembered not for their first finals series, but for allowing the Demons to score three of their four goals in the last ten minutes of the semi-final.
Early call for 2021: Should be in the mix for finals again in 2021, but the inconsistent form line has to flatten out for the Giants to take the next step.
Season rating: 6/10