RICHMOND brought in several big-name recruits for its first AFLW season but finished as the only side to fail to record a win.
It was a top-heavy approach which backfired badly, culminating in a horror final match against fellow expansion side St Kilda, where the Tigers failed to kick a goal and lost by 39 points.
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: Tom Hunter
Leadership group: Katie Brennan (captain), Christina Bernardi (vice-captain), Phoebe Monahan, Lauren Tesoriero
2020 finishing position: Seventh (last) in Conference A, zero wins, six losses, 35.7 per cent.
Best performance: Richmond 7.3 (45) lost to Geelong 10.7 (67), round four
Unfortunately for the Tigers, a "best win" category isn't possible, but this 22-point loss to the Cats was their best performance. Down by 41 points at the start of the third, Richmond responded with some of the best footy we saw from the expansion side, recording its highest score.
Best individual performance: Monique Conti came off a very limited pre-season, juggling basketball commitments, but by round four had well and truly hit her straps. The classy midfielder finished with 28 disposals, five tackles and four clearances against Geelong.
Club best and fairest candidates: Monique Conti, Phoebe Monahan, Grace Campbell
NAB AFLW Rising Star nominations: Nil
Debutants: Maddy Brancatisano, Nekaela Butler, Grace Campbell, Kate Dempsey, Alice Edmonds, Ciara Fitzgerald, Kodi Jacques, Laura McClelland, Rebecca Miller, Sophie Molan, Sarah Sansonetti, Gabby Seymour, Tayla Stahl, Courtney Wakefield, Ella Wood, Alana Woodward
Retirees: Laura Bailey, Lauren Tesoriero
Star recruit (existing AFLW player): Monique Conti should win the club's first best and fairest award, but for pure value for money, Phoebe Monahan delivered in spades. The tough defender returned home after two years with GWS, and was very strong under unrelenting pressure among inexperienced teammates.
Star recruit (open-age or draftee): Grace Campbell missed round one with a hip injury, but the contested midfielder was her side's best in her debut the following week. Campbell's attack on the footy was second to none, and she slotted in well in her first season at the top level.
Unsung hero: Another who looked at home playing AFLW for the first time was Courtney Wakefield. The full-forward was an integral part of the line-up and played well despite very limited opportunities.
- The midfield group of Conti (20), Campbell (24) and Kodi Jacques (19) looks to be a handy trio for the future. While they definitely need more support, especially with outside run, Sophie Molan will be better next year and Kate Dempsey missed most of the season through injury.
What needs improvement:
- The key defensive posts are an area which needs some help. While the regularity with which the ball was entering would have tested the likes of Melbourne's stingy backline, defenders were easily out-played and out-positioned by their opponents way too often.
- While the longer the group plays together, the more cohesion will naturally develop, but Richmond seriously struggled to get disposal chains with any real momentum. The Tigers were often stagnant both ahead and behind the ball and were rarely able to move the ball with fluidity. They ranked last in disposals, kicks, contested possessions and clearances, and second-last in marks, inside-50s and goals.
Season in a song: Under Pressure (David Bowie & Queen). It's safe to say a winless season, losses against fellow expansion sides Gold Coast and St Kilda (a comprehensive flogging) and recording the lowest-ever AFLW score was not the way Richmond wanted to start its AFLW campaign.
Early call for 2021: Improvement absolutely has to be made, but two wins in 2021 would be a solid step up for the Tigers.
Season rating: 2/10