All-Star stats team: Shock leaders, lone Lion makes the cut

DESPITE missing out on finals, Richmond leads the way in Champion Data's 2021 AFLW All-Star stats team.

Selection is based on pre-determined statistical categories for those positions (spoils for defence, uncontested possessions for midfield etc), with the leader in each category given the nod.

If a player qualified for two positions, one was picked with the runner-up given a guernsey in the other category.

>> SCROLL DOWN FOR THE ENTIRE TEAM

The Tigers had four players selected: key back Harriet Cordner, midfielder Monique Conti and key forwards Katie Brennan and Courtney Wakefield.

Curiously, premiers Brisbane had just one player picked, and preliminary finalists Melbourne do not have a single representative.

Selection and statistics courtesy of Champion Data

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DEFENDERS

Meg McDonald, Geelong – intercept possessions

The Geelong skipper had her work cut out in a tough year for the side, and rose to the occasion, leading the League in average intercept possessions with 8.3 a game. It's the third year running McDonald has ranked inside the top three across the AFLW for intercept possessions.

Ruby Schleicher, Collingwood – intercept possessions

A career-best season from Schleicher finished in All-Australian selection. The rising Pie finished just behind McDonald in the intercept possession stakes, averaging 8.1 per match, and also tied for the most intercept marks a game, with 2.6 a game.

Tahlia Randall, North Melbourne – spoils

The golden fist of the AFLW, fiercely competitive Randall is tough to beat outright in marking contests, topping the League with an average of 3.7 spoils per match.

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Harriet Cordner, Richmond – intercept marks

The recruitment of Cordner was an inspired move by Richmond during the 2020 Trade Period, the key back producing her best season to date. Tied with Schleicher for most intercept marks (2.6) and ranked sixth-best for one-on-one contest loss rate (minimum 15).

Lauren Ahrens, Gold Coast – metres gained (defender)

Not content with her role taking on tall forwards, Ahrens is the statistically best rebound defender for 2021, averaging 321.1m gained per game, the eighth-most overall and best of all backs. The Sun ranked third-best for one-on-one contest loss rate (minimum 15).

MIDFIELDERS

Emma King, North Melbourne – ruck, hitout-to-advantage rate

Winning the ruck contest is one thing, but putting it to the advantage of teammates is what elevates a player. King's hitout-to-advantage rate was 24.1 per cent, the highest in the AFLW, and won the hitout 60.3 per cent of the time, second overall behind Lauren Bella.

Alyce Parker, GWS – contested possessions

Good luck winning the ball off the bullocking Giant. Parker's 14.9 contested possessions per match is the highest season average across the five years of AFLW, and she also ranked in the top three for disposals, clearances and metres gained.

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Georgia Patrikios, St Kilda – uncontested possessions

The yin to Parker's yang, the silky Saint averaged 13.3 uncontested possessions a game. Britt Bonnici (selected elsewhere) actually topped the League with 15.1, and Patrikios was tied with Karen Paxman in second place. Patrikios' second place in overall disposals gets her the nod over the Dee.

Brittany Bonnici, Collingwood – disposals

Bonnici's incredible work-rate across all four quarters drove her to yet another career-best season, averaging 24.7 touches a game. It's the second-highest result ever, behind Anne Hatchard's 25.3 last year. Bonnici also topped the AFLW in marks and uncontested possessions.

Brianna Davey, Collingwood – disposals

Previously selected players Bonnici, Patrikios and Parker averaged slightly more disposals than Davey, but one of the AFLW's best and fairest players still recorded an impressive 23.1 touches a game. Davey also ranked in the top seven in clearances, uncontested and contested possessions.

Kiara Bowers, Fremantle – pressure points

Finishing equal-first in the AFLW best and fairest this year wasn't the only crown the pressure queen won this year. Bowers owns this slot, and is far and away better than everyone in the AFLW. The Docker averaged 23.0 pressure acts, 65.9 pressure points, 10.3 tackles and 4.6 forced turnovers a game, topping every category, as well as clearances. Pressure points are a weighted measurement, awarded for corralling (1.2), chasing (1.5), closing (2.75) and physical pressure (3.75).

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FORWARDS

Erin Phillips, Adelaide – score involvements

Despite being hampered by a knee injury in the second half of the season, the queen stays queen, averaging 5.2 score involvements a game. Phillips has led the AFLW in that particular stat every season except 2020, when she was finishing her rehab on a torn ACL. Good luck beating Phillips in attack too, having the best retention rate (64 per cent) of players targeted inside 50 at least 15 times.

Isabel Huntington, Western Bulldogs – contested marks

Huntington's strong form carried from defence back into attack, averaging 2.3 contested grabs a game, the highest in the competition. She ranked sixth for one-on-one wins for players targeted at least 10 times, and first for marks inside 50.

Jesse Wardlaw, Brisbane – forward 50 marks

Sat 0.1 behind Huntington for marks inside 50, averaging 2.0 per match. The young Lion – her premiership side's sole representative in this team – was targeted inside 50 on 52 occasions, the second-most of any player.

Darcy Vescio, Carlton – goals

The lively Blue won the competition's goalkicking for a second time in five years, recording 16 across the home and away season. She's also the AFLW's all-time leading goalkicker, ahead of Phillips and Jasmine Garner. Vescio's sharp vision also brought her teammates into the game, recording the most goal assists in 2021.

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Katie Brennan, Richmond – score involvements

Spending much more time in attack than she did last year, the Tiger ranked second overall for score involvements (4.8) behind Phillips. Brennan ranked first overall for contested marks inside 50, and finished equal-second in the goalkicking with 14, way up on her previous AFLW best of six.

INTERCHANGE

Ellyse Gamble, Western Bulldogs – one-on-one loss rate

The unheralded Gamble has battled a series of injuries across her five AFLW seasons, but was able to string together eight straight games this year. She had a loss rate of just 10.5 per cent for one-on-one contests, the best of any defender with a minimum of 15 contests.

Monique Conti, Richmond – ground-ball gets

The Tiger set the record for the highest average of groundball gets in a season with 10.6. She also ranked second for contested possessions and seventh for both disposals and clearances.

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Jasmine Garner, North Melbourne – clearances

Garner ranked second overall for average clearances, recording 5.9 a match behind only Bowers (already selected). It's an incredible achievement for a player who still had stints as a key forward in 2021, with the Roo also ranked in the top five for contested possessions and score involvements.

Ebony Marinoff, Adelaide – metres gained

Ranked second behind Parker in this category, but still averaged an incredible 368.5m per match, a personal best. Once regarded for her tackling, Marinoff's overall improvement was reflected in ranking inside the top 10 in all midfield categories in this team.

Courtney Wakefield, Richmond – forward 50 tackles

Usually the domain of smalls, Richmond's 180cm, 34-year-old full-forward sat equal-first for forward 50 tackles. Also tying for first were Rachelle Martin and Christina Bernardi, but Wakefield gets the nod on number of games played (nine, as oppose to five and six respectively). The Tiger also ranked third for pressure points inside forward 50.