Crunching the numbers: AFLW – Round 1

THE first round of AFLW 2.0 saw record-breaking crowds, entertaining performances, and athletes continuing to smash ceilings for women in sport. With the hype and the excitement that a new year brings, nerves are only expected for both returning players and debutants taking the field for the first time. With three of the four games played resulting in final margins of less than two goals, the competition was hot from the get-go, and we got to witness the skills and potential of these athletes. Regardless of the level of footy, one crucial element remains: efficiency and effectiveness with the ball wins games, and with nerves, maintaining that efficiency and effectiveness is easier said than done.

Carlton vs. Collingwood

On paper, Collingwood’s numbers were superior in almost every category. Ultimately, they had more of the footy (disposals: 119 v 153) and were more efficient with it (64.3 per cent v 55.6 per cent). So what went wrong? It was their use of the ball inside the forward 50, as they succumbed to an eight-point loss at Ikon Park. But for the Blues, it was their defence that was the key to their round one victory, with a mix of ferocious tackling (72 v 60) and their excellent rebounding from defensive 50 (25 v 17). Carlton also managed to limit Collingwood’s inside 50 efficiency to a mere 14 per cent, showing the competition that defence is the best offence.

Melbourne vs. GWS

We saw the Demons take a clutch victory against last year’s wooden-spooners at Casey Fields. The forwards for both sides were on fire – Phoebe McWilliams (booted three goals), Richelle Cranston (three), Jacinda Barclay (two), Shelley Scott (two), and as a result, they were the highest-ranked teams for goal-kicking accuracy in round one (GWS: 60 per cent, Melb: 58.3 per cent). In a game that gave us a battle of the goal-kickers, it was the disposal-queen, Daisy Pearce proving to us yet again why she the best in the business. Topping the disposals at 19 (14 contested possessions and five uncontested possessions), 13 of those came after half time, and she was critical in Melbourne’s hard-fought win.

Adelaide vs. Brisbane

The grand final rematch saw the Lions dominate the numbers. They took a competition-high 14 contested marks in round one. Key position forward, Sabrina Frederick-Traub was an unstoppable force as she took 10 marks, and was a huge threat in the forward line. Despite her struggling to convert those to goals, the difference in conversion rate (75 per cent v 36 per cent) in Brisbane’s favour, was the key stat to their victory. The Crows did not look like their usual selves on the day, and missing last year’s AFLW MVP, Erin Phillips proved a huge factor in the result. Missing her again for a second consecutive week could hurt Adelaide’s chances of securing their first victory of 2018.

Western Bulldogs vs. Fremantle

Without a doubt the Bulldogs top the power rankings in round one. Their performance can only be described as statistically elite, with a total mark-count of 70 (double half the teams in the league). They also managed to keep their opponents to just 17 marks, which is an incredible achievement. The Bulldogs displayed a high standard of football at VU Whitten Oval, and cemented themselves as one of the teams to beat in 2018. Forward, Katie Brennan looked dominant up forward with three goals, and the Dockers had no answer for Melbourne Uni superstar, Ellie Blackburn, and her stats back that up. She currently leads the league in disposals, after racking up 23 of them against the Dockers. The Beaconsfield junior also took seven marks and kicked a goal to cap off a wonderful day in red, white and blue.

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