Category: AFLW

Marinoff overruns Hatchard in impressive display of skills

BOOTING five of the final seven goals of the game, Team Marinoff enjoyed a come-from-behind victory over Team Hatchard in the 2020 South Australian AFL Women’s All-Stars match on Friday night. Under lights at Thebarton Oval, both teams put on a high quality game which featured the top AFL Women’s Draft hopefuls from across the state. Whilst Hatchard flew out of the blocks with three of the first four goals to lead by 14 points at quarter time, the yellow side kicked just six behinds for the rest of the game, as Marinoff piled on 5.1 in that time to run out 6.1 (37) to 3.8 (26) winners.

Whilst the result itself was clearly arbitrary fo the showcase of skills from South Australia’s best non-listed AFL Women’s talents, it did not stop players going in for a real crack across four quarters. In what was an even team performance, some of the standouts from Marinoff included Sturt’s Alex Ballard and North Adelaide’s Kristi Harvey who both controlled the defence. Central District’s Madison Lane worked into the game to being among the best, as was Norwood’s Jess Macolino through the midfield. For Hatchard, Alana Lishmund was a standout and remarkable for her age – having turned 17 last month – while Glenelg’s Grace Duffy, and other middle-age draft talents Zoe Venning and Brooke Tonon were also strong up forward.

The game started all on Hatchard’s terms with the booming kick of Amber Ward setting the yellow side up with an end-to-end play for Tonon to run onto it. About eight minutes later, Marinoff responded with its only goal of the first term through Brooklyn Kraft with the top-age ruck-forward winning a free kick and popping through her first of the night. Not to be outdone, Tonon got clear again after a long kick from Hannah Prenzler, and a 1-2 from Tahlita Buethke and Cristie Castle got it to the teenager to run on and nail the goal. Two minutes later, another talented teenager in Lishmund received the handball from Castle and did not let her down with the quick kick and goal. Whilst Venning had a number of chances in the first term, they kept falling short.

Despite the best efforts of Emma Smith, Marinoff could not get the ball moving deep enough, though the likes of Harvey and Bella Smith were holding up the defence. Tesharna Maher was getting her running game going, whilst Leah Cutting was doing well around the ground outside the stoppages. The experience of Ash Woodland was helping Hatchard, while Matilda Zander and Czenya Cavouras were winning plenty of the ball through midfield. At quarter time, the margin was 14 points in favour of Hatchard.

The second term was a reversal of the first as Marinoff kicked the only two goals of the quarter, and both came late. For the majority of the term, it looked as if Hatchard would remain in front off the back of some great work from Prenzler and Tahlia Meyer, with Isobel Kuiper getting involved through the middle. Alex Ballard remained a thorn in the side for team Marinoff, as she and Bella Smith were vigilant in defence, and the likes of Shelby Smith, Lauren Gauci and Tessa Kohn were all having an impact.

It was Gauci and Kohn who combined to get the ball to Jess Kirk, with the South Adelaide leading goalkicking positioning herself well at the top of the goalsquare to protect the ball drop then kick the regulation set shot 13 and a half minutes into the quarter. Not long after, Shelby Smith did well to stand up in a tackle, and with youngsters Huynh and Laura Clifton combining, gifted the latter a running goal from 40m to draw within two points at the main break.

The third term is often referred to as the premiership quarter, and it was certainly where Marinoff got the job done. They booted three goals – in fact the last three goals of the game – to not only take the lead, but race away to a 15-point advantage themselves. Jorja Eldridge had her moment by keeping front position at the top of the square, and the fend off from Macolino, handball to Huynh who fired it to Kohn for the quick snap landed in Eldridge’s arms. She went back and converted the set shot for Marinoff to hit the front for the first time. They never gave up the lead from there.

Eleven minutes into the quarter and Kraft won a fortunate free kick after trying to take on the tackler, slipped and the tackler fell in her back for a free kick 20m out straight in front. She popped through her second with such fluency, and the red team had some breathing space. When Macolino won a free kick in the last minute and then nailed the set shot from 35m, Marinoff was out to a 15-point advantage and looking incredibly good. It was off the back of Macolino’s stoppage work, and the run of Lane, Gauci and Katelyn Pope who were all influential in the term. For Hatchard, Buethke had really had an impact, while Erin Sundstrom, Duffy and Lishmund were again prominent.

The final term was an arm-wrestle predominantly in Hatchard’s forward half. With a number of injury stoppages and a few casualties from the game, the quarter went into the 23rd minute – six more than the intended no time-on 17-minute terms. Despite Hatchard kicking the only four behinds of the term – and realistically they should have edged a lot closer – Marinoff’s defence, once again led by Ballard and Harvey stood tall. Lane continued her form, working hard with Huynh on a number of occasions as the Central District teammates, along with Kohn were prominent.

For Hatchard, Lishmund finished off a terrific game, with Abbie Ballard, Duffy, Venning and Tonon all amongst the best again in the last term. The last kick of the game was a poster and fitting that Hatchard had got so close to kicking a major in the term, but fell agonisingly short. Overall, the showcase was a success with plenty to take away from the contest.

MARINOFF 1.0 | 3.1 | 6.1 | 6.1 (37)
HATCHARD 3.2 | 3.3 | 3.4 | 3.8 (26)

GOALS:

Marinoff: B. Kraft 2, J. Kirk, L. Clifton, J. Eldridge, J. Macolino.
Hatchard: B. Tonon 2, A. Lishmund.

ADC BEST:

Marinoff: A. Ballard, J. Macolino, K. Harvey, M. Lane, E. Smith, B. Kraft
Hatchard: A. Lishmund, G. Duffy, A. Ward, M. Zander, C. Cavouras Z. Venning

Picture: AFL Media

2020 AFL Women’s Trade and Free Agency Tracker

AFL WOMEN’S TRADE / FREE AGENCY TRACKER:

ADELAIDE:

IN: Jess Sedunary, Lisa Whiteley, Hannah Munyard, Pick 42, Pick 45
OUT: Pick 20, Pick 34, Pick 42

BRISBANE:

IN: Taylor Smith, Pick 37, Pick 51
OUT: Pick 24

CARLTON:

IN: Elise O’Dea, Maddy Guerin, Charlotte Hammans, Pick 36
OUT: Sarah Hosking, Jayde Van Dyk, Pick 42, Pick 56

COLLINGWOOD:

IN: Abbey Green, Aliesha Newman, Pick 19, Pick 25, Pick 31, Pick 33
OUT: Sarah D’Arcy, Sarah Dargan, Katie Lynch, Pick 10, Pick 40

FREMANTLE:

IN: Jess Trend, Pick 46
OUT: Tayla Bresland, Pick 44

GEELONG:

IN: Pick 10, Pick 20. Pick 27, Pick 39
OUT: Pick 5, Pick 35, Pick 49

GOLD COAST:

IN: Alison Drennan, Pick 56
OUT: Charlotte Hammans, Taylor Smith, Pick 37, Pick

GWS

IN: Kat Smith, Pick 29, Pick 42
OUT: Lisa Whiteley, Pick 25, Pick 39

MELBOURNE:

IN: Pick 5, Pick 15, Pick 17, Pick 35, Pick 41, Pick 49
OUT: Aleisha Newman, Harriet Cordner, Bianca Jakobsson, Kat Smith, Elise O’Dea, Maddy Guerin, Pick 11, Pick 27

NORTH MELBOURNE:

IN: Grace Campbell, Pick 22, Pick 44, Pick 50
OUT: Abbey Green, Jess Trend, Pick 40, Pick 43, Pick 57

RICHMOND:

IN: Sarah Hosking, Sarah D’Arcy, Sarah Dargan, Harriet Cordner, Pick 43
OUT: Grace Campbell, Pick 17, Pick 31, Pick 45

ST KILDA:

IN: Jayde Van Dyk, Pick 24, Pick 34, Pick 40, Pick 57
OUT: Jess Sedunary, Alison Drennan, Pick 22, Pick 36, Pick 50

WEST COAST:

IN: Aisling McCarthy, Tayla Bresland, Pick 3
OUT: Pick 2, Pick 16, Pick 46

WESTERN BULLDOGS:

IN: Katie Lynch, Pick 2, Pick 11, Pick 16
OUT: Aisling McCarthy, Hannah Munyard, Pick 3, Pick 19, Pick 33

 

2020 AFL WOMEN’S LIVE DRAFT ORDER:

First Round:

1. Richmond
2. Western Bulldogs
3. West Coast
4. Adelaide
5. Melbourne
6. St Kilda
7. Gold Coast
8. Brisbane
9. GWS GIANTS
10. Melbourne
11. Western Bulldogs
12. Carlton
13. North Melbourne
14. Fremantle
15. Melbourne
16. Western Bulldogs

Second Round:

17. Melbourne
18. West Coast
19. Collingwood
20. Geelong
21. Geelong
22. North Melbourne
23. Gold Coast
24. St Kilda
25. Collingwood
26. Collingwood
27. Geelong
28. Carlton
29. GWS GIANTS
30. Fremantle

Third Round:

31. Collingwood
32. West Coast
33. Collingwood
34. St Kilda
35. Melbourne
36. Carlton
37. Brisbane
38. Brisbane
39. Geelong
40. St Kilda
41. Melbourne
42. GWS GIANTS
43. Richmond
44. North Melbourne

Fourth Round:

45. Adelaide
46. Fremantle
47. Western Bulldogs
48. Adelaide
49. Melbourne
50. North Melbourne
51. Brisbane
52. Brisbane
53. GWS GIANTS
54. Collingwood
55. Melbourne
56. Gold Coast
57. St Kilda
58. Fremantle

AFL Women’s Trade and Free Agency update: Monday, August 3 – Richmond, North and Carlton busy on day one

RICHMOND has looked to experience to bolster its AFL Women’s midfield stocks and help Monique Conti out by acquiring Carlton midfielder, Sarah Hosking. The tough ball winner will cross to Punt Road in exchange for Richmond’s end of first round compensation pick, 15th overall. The pick allows Carlton to have two selections inside the top 10 of the Victorian pool, effectively picks seven and nine (12 and 15 overall). Hosking is a clearance player who provides run and will help bolster a Tigers midfield that really struggled in 2019.

However whilst Tigers fans would have rejoiced at the sight of adding an experienced midfielder to the fold, they would also be disappointed to hear one of their brightest stars has left to play for North Melbourne. Grace Campbell will swap her yellow and black for blue and white for the bargain basement price of Pick 43. Campbell averaged 12 touches and six tackles in season 2020, and the 24-year-old showed plenty of promise.

In the game of round-about, Kangaroos’ ruck Abbey Green has headed to the Magpies to provide some support in the ruck for Sharni Layton with the Pies handing over Pick 40 in the process, providing the Roos with another third round pick.

Another trade involving a late swap of picks was between Carlton and St Kilda, with former VFL Women’s Rising Star, Jayde Van Dyk heading to St Kilda with pick 42 in exchange for pick 36, effectively giving the Blues a slight upgrade in the third round. The defender will be a welcome addition to Moorabbin next season, continuing the youth presence there.

Off the trade front, Collingwood 2019 draftee, Machaelia Roberts has called time on her career, joining Eliza Hynes in retirement from the Magpies. Among those also previously having announced their retirements are Adelaide quartet Courtney Cramey, Jess Foley, Courtney Gum and Sophie Li, Richmond duo Laura Bailey and Lauren Tesoriero, St Kilda’s Emma Mackie, West Coast’s Talia Radan, Western Bulldogs’ Nicole Callinan and of course, Demon turned Cats champion, Melissa Hickey.

AFL WOMEN’S TRADE / FREE AGENCY TRACKER:

CARLTON:

IN: Pick 15, Pick 36
OUT: Sarah Hosking, Jayde Van Dyk, Pick 42

COLLINGWOOD:

IN: Abbey Green
OUT: Pick 40

NORTH MELBOURNE:

IN: Grace Campbell, Pick 40
OUT: Abbey Green, Pick 43

RICHMOND:

IN: Sarah Hosking, Pick 43
OUT: Grace Campbell

ST KILDA:

IN: Jayde Van Dyk, Pick 42
OUT: Pick 36

AFL Women’s Draft Order announced as Eagles, Tigers gain extra pick

TWO of last year’s AFL Women’s expansion sides have been handed an additional end of first round draft pick that must be traded in a bid to try and bring an additional experienced player to the sides in an announcement by the AFL today that also included the 2020 AFL Women’s Draft Order. Richmond and West Coast both finished on the bottom of their respective pools, and have earned picks 15 and 16 from the AFL, which “must be on-traded to bring in ready-made talent”. Additionally, the message said the pick for each side “can be combined with other selections and/or players, however, cannot be used in a scenario that brings another selection back to the club”.

The two selections come on the back of the teams gaining the first and second selections in the AFL Women’s Draft. Past premiers, Western Bulldogs and Adelaide, and Geelong have rounded out the top five selections. Fellow expansion sides from last year, St Kilda and Gold Coast picked up selections six and seven, with the Suns followed by the three other sides knocked out in the AFL Women’s Finals Series – Brisbane, GWS and Collingwood – completing the top 10. Whilst a premier was never decided, the unbeaten Fremantle will be the last team to select a first player in the first round prior to the Trade Period, with North Melbourne, Carlton and Melbourne making up the other selections.

The Signing and Trade Period kicks off next Monday, August 3 with clubs permitted to sign up to 27 players for the 2021 season, including rookie players. Eligible rookie players are those who have not played for an Australian-based Australian rules football side in the past three years.

Key dates for the 2020 AFLW Sign and Trade Period:

Monday August 3
AFLW Sign & Trade Period commences (12pm)

Wednesday August 12
Trade period closes (2pm) AFLW List Lodgement #1 (4pm)

Monday August 17
Re-signing and Restricted Free Agent period closes (2pm) AFLW List Lodgement #2 (4pm)

Friday August 21
Delisted Free Agent period closes (2pm) AFLW List Lodgement 3 (4pm)
AFLW Draft order confirmed

2020 NAB AFL WOMEN’S DRAFT ORDER

FIRST ROUND
1 Richmond
2 West Coast Eagles
3 Western Bulldogs
4 Adelaide Crows
5 Geelong Cats
6 St Kilda
7 Gold Coast SUNS
8 Brisbane Lions
9 GWS GIANTS
10 Collingwood
11 Melbourne
12 Carlton
13 North Melbourne
14 Fremantle
15 Richmond
16 West Coast Eagles

SECOND ROUND
17 Richmond
18 West Coast Eagles
19 Western Bulldogs
20 Adelaide Crows
21 Geelong Cats
22 St Kilda
23 Gold Coast SUNS
24 Brisbane Lions
25 GWS GIANTS
26 Collingwood
27 Melbourne
28 Carlton
29 North Melbourne
30 Fremantle

THIRD ROUND
31 Richmond
32 West Coast Eagles
33 Western Bulldogs
34 Adelaide Crows
35 Geelong Cats
36 St Kilda
37 Gold Coast SUNS
38 Brisbane Lions
39 GWS GIANTS
40 Collingwood
41 Melbourne
42 Carlton
43 North Melbourne
44 Fremantle

Additional selections will be added through the list lodgement process.

AFL Women’s – What could the Conferences look like in 2021?

ASSUMING the AFL Women’s competition runs in an identical format next year as it has in 2020, questions are asked about what the Conferences may look like in 2021. We know that due to travel the two West Australian sides and the two Queensland sides will be in opposite conferences, but from there it is all up in the air. We take a look at a possible way they might structure the conferences next year.

Based on the rules from last year, the top two teams from 2020 – in this case it is Fremantle and North Melbourne – are in opposite pools. From there, we seeded the next two sides (based on wins and also the fact they won their finals) in Carlton and then Melbourne in opposite pools. It leaves the four losing finalists that round out the top eight. Due to the fact both Brisbane and Gold Coast should be in the same Conference, we have placed them in Conference B, meaning the GIANTS and Collingwood head to Conference A.

Looking at the six remaining sides, the next strongest performers were St Kilda, then Geelong and Adelaide. The Saints head to Conference B with the Crows as one might perceive that Conference as slightly weaker giving both the Queensland teams are still young and building, while Geelong heads to what shapes to be a dangerous Conference A. They are joined by the next best side in the Western Bulldogs there, which means the two sides south west of Melbourne are in the same conference. Rounding out the Conferences are West Coast and Richmond with the Eagles naturally joining Fremantle in Conference A, leaving Richmond to join Conference B.

See the two hypothetical conferences below:

Conference A:

Fremantle
Melbourne
GIANTS
Collingwood
Geelong
Western Bulldogs
West Coast

Conference B:

North Melbourne
Carlton
Brisbane
Gold Coast
St Kilda
Adelaide
Richmond

Looking at how the teams performed this year and possible improvement from some of the younger sides, there could be eight or nine contenders for the title. The likes of Fremantle and North Melbourne deserve favouritism, but the next group should be Melbourne, Carlton and Adelaide – with their top two players returning from injury. After that group, you cannot discount Collingwood who pushed a number of the top-end sides in 2020, and they might be in that B+ tier if you like, with Geelong and Brisbane not far behind. The Western Bulldogs, Gold Coast and St Kilda are the three that could really improve in season 2021, but they are still young so are probably another season away from being a premiership contender – though you never say never. West Coast and Richmond are still feeling themselves out and had some promising moments in 2020, but are realistically the two underdogs heading into 2021.

The Conference system could provide the league with numerous possibilities, but next year if all teams are fully fit to begin 2021, it could be the most competitive year so far. With more and more talent coming through the junior AFL Women’s pathway, it is an exciting time in women’s football.

Of course we all want to see a 13-round season where each team plays every other team, but until that happens, then the best scenario is as many great games as possible across the two conferences. Next year will be a must-watch.

Draft Central’s 2020 Top 50 AFLW Players: #2 Madison Prespakis

WITH the AFL Women’s 2020 season officially come to a close now the awards are done and dusted, Draft Central looks back on our Top 50 Players of season 2020. This countdown purely looks at the 2020 season so does not look at past performances and will not include injured stars such Erin Phillips or Chelsea Randall.

In this edition, we reveal the played ranked second for their efforts this year, a youngster who has already reached the highest heights in terms of individual honours despite completing just her second year in the competition.

Any guesses as to who will be number one?

#2 MADISON PRESPAKIS

7 GAMES AVE: 21.3 disposals*, 2.7 marks, 3.0 tackles, 4.3 clearances*, 3.3 inside 50s*, 1.3 rebound 50s, 0.4 goals (3)

*Denotes club-best

This year’s AFL Women’s best and fairest comes in second on out list of the top 50 players, but there will undoubtedly be plenty of opportunity in future for her to take out the top spot. At this point – only two years into her career at the elite level – Prespakis has everything bar a premiership medal in her trophy cabinet as the leader of a new generation which seems to be in an unstoppable hurry.

The tough, diminutive midfielder is already as decorated a player as they come, earning back-to-back All Australian and club best and fairest honours, the 2019 Rising Star award, and now the ultimate league-wide recognition. She is a player who can turn games, carry her side on her back through sheer determination and the will to win.

It was evident as early as in Round 1 this season, as the young gun picked up right from where she left off in 2019. Against Richmond, Prespakis ripped the game apart in with a memorable third term to set the tone for the remainder of her campaign, combining her unmatched ability to find the ball with scoreboard impact. Prespakis loves a goal, if her celebrations did not make that abundantly clear enough.

The 19-year-old, who has taken tips off Carlton men’s star Patrick Cripps for dealing with opposition attention, continued to find plenty of the ball in 2020, leading her side in that department. She dipped below 20 disposals just twice, and racked up a high of 26 against St Kilda in Round 5.

Capping off her brilliant year, Prespakis would also finish top of the tree among her Blues teammates for contested possessions, clearances, inside 50s, and metres gained, showcasing the true damage she can inflict from the middle of the ground. Everything about Prespakis’ game is about getting her side going forward on the front foot, and she does it better than most.

Plenty of records will shatter and be made unattainable by this young champion of the game, who is just getting started. It will be scary to see the accolades she finishes up with should she continue on her projected path, and if she is not already the competition’s most valuable player, she is certainly Carlton’s.

Draft Central’s 2020 Top 50 AFLW players: #3 Jaimee Lambert

WITH the AFL Women’s 2020 season officially coming to a close now the awards are done and dusted, Draft Central looks back on our Top 50 Players of season 2020. This countdown purely looks at the 2020 season so does not look at past performances and will not include injured stars such Erin Phillips or Chelsea Randall.

#3 JAIMEE LAMBERT

AVERAGES: 22.3 disposals, 1.9 marks, 4.6 inside 50s, 6.4 tackles, 0.4 goals

There is no denying that Lambert is a real livewire across the ground, constantly able to make something out of nothing. Her crumbing style of play allows her to track the ball at ground level and dispose of it easily, while her dynamic movement and spatial awareness make her one of the most exciting players to watch able to light up the ground with her sheer presence. She is unpredictable and oozes that layer of class able to hit a teammate lace-out thanks to her precision with ball in hand.

Lambert took her game to a whole other level in season 2020 guiding Collingwood to some big wins and using her general nous to have an influence. Her desperation to win the footy and have an impact across the ground was undoubted racking up a whopping 22.3 touches each game. Able to move into the midfield and play a role up forward, Lambert went from strength to strength throughout the season taking everything in her stride.

A real leader on the footy field, Lambert was a ball magnet for the Pies finding the footy at the bottom of every pack. She was not afraid to put her body on the line averaging 6.4 tackles a game such was her intent and physicality at the contest. Her turn of speed allowed her to hunt down opposition players and lay big tackles while her high level of execution was also evident.

Lambert found the big sticks on a couple of occasions, able to dart around inside the forward 50 and lead up at the footy when it came her way. Her clever leading patterns and strong hands made her a key cog for Collingwood while her experience paid dividends able to direct traffic across the ground.

She consistently stood up under pressure winning the footy when it needed to be won and using her pace to evade players and create attacking forays. Although the Pies did not get the job done in the final against North Melbourne, Lambert showcased her array of talents amassing an equal team-high 22 disposals along with six marks, five tackles and two behinds – although she would be ruing those missed chances. Her quick slick hands make her hard to stop when on song, able to dish off a handball to a player flying past.

The Collingwood speedster delivered the ball inside 50 effortlessly able to sight her teammates in space with an average of 4.6 the highest of any of her teammates. She is nimble at ground level and is constantly on the look out for the next play combining well with the likes of Sharni Layton in the ruck and new recruit Bri Davey along with Chloe Molloy to have a demanding presence on the ground. Credit to her impressive season Lambert took out Collingwood’s best and fairest award while also being named in the All-Australian squad.

Draft Central’s 2020 Top 50 AFLW players: #4 Emma Kearney

WITH the AFL Women’s 2020 season officially come to a close now the awards are done and dusted, Draft Central looks back on our Top 50 Players of season 2020. This countdown purely looks at the 2020 season so does not look at past performances and will not include injured stars such Erin Phillips or Chelsea Randall.

In this edition, we enter the final four with one of the competition’s most decorated players, and a leader who continues to set the benchmark as she pushes for a second AFLW premiership.

#4 EMMA KEARNEY

7 GAMES AVE: 20.6 disposals, 3.4 marks, 4.4 tackles, 4.1 clearances, 4.1 inside 50s, 2 rebounds 50s, 0.4 goals (3)

Coming off a premiership and league best and fairest award in 2018, there would have been no better player to choose to lead an incoming AFL Women’s side than Kearney, who continues to perform as one of the competition’s elite midfielders. In 2020, that is arguably still the case. At the forefront of North Melbourne’s second campaign, she would lead the Roos to their maiden finals appearance and victory after they finished top of Conference A at 5-1.

The Kangaroos were the preseason premiership fancies and more often than not lived up to the lofty standard set, in large part credit to the consistency of Kearney and her unmatchable on-ball brigade. The skipper did not lead her side in any key statistic this year – an absolute rarity – but was right up there across the board, impacting each game with help from the likes of Jasmine Garner, Ashleigh Riddell, and Jenna Bruton.

Kearney twice achieved a disposal high of 26, dropping below 20 just twice across her seven outings. Even in her season-low effort of 12 touches in Round 3, she managed to prop her stats back up with three goals to prove her well-roundedness, and that you simply cannot keep a good player down.

All Australian honours came Kearney’s way for the fourth consecutive year as one of three Kangaroos in the final side, and the decorated veteran also took home some silverware come North Melbourne’s awards night. The gun midfielder placed second in her club best and fairest, but was also recognised as Shinboner of the Year and Best Clubwoman, proving her value extends further than pure on-field brilliance.

It seems there is plenty left in the tank for one of the league’s pioneers, with a flag for North Melbourne surely at the forefront of Kearney’s upcoming goals. The depth and maturity of her side suggests it is well within the premiership window, and it would only be fitting if she could lead the Roos into the history books.

Draft Central’s 2020 Top 50 AFLW Players: #5 – Kiara Bowers

WITH the AFL Women’s 2020 season officially come to a close now the awards are done and dusted, Draft Central looks back on our Top 50 Players of season 2020. This countdown purely looks at the 2020 season so does not look at past performances and will not include injured stars such Erin Phillips or Chelsea Randall.

In this edition, we look at number five in the rankings and someone who can only be described as an absolute tackling machine.

#5 Kiara Bowers

7 GAMES AVE: 17.6 disposals, 2.6 marks, 14.1 tackles, 3.6 inside 50s, 1.1 rebounds, 1 goal

While Ebony Marinoff famously became known as the tackling machine at AFL Women’s level, a contemporary in Bowers – who is actually seven years Marinoff’s senior – has proven to be the undisputed champion in that regard. The sheer fact she not only took her game to another level in 2020, but lifted her remarkable tackle average is credit to the Fremantle star’s determination to get better each and every week.

Bowers was rarely fazed by bigger opposition, averaging a mind-boggling 14.1 tackles per game and falling one tackle short of a century in just seven games. Just when many fans thought 11.1 tackles per game in 2019 was off the chart, Bowers lifted it again. She thrives on the contested ball and is the ultimate team player, but really shone as a better offensive weapon in 2020 despite only kicking the one goal – having more inside 50s and average disposals.

Bowers hardly had a quiet game, and certainly not defensively with her lowest tackle count coming in at 12. Twice, Bowers actually laid more tackles than won disposals which signifies the importance she places on doing all the team things first. While there were multiple games one could argue as her best, Bowers’ ability to stand up in the semi-final against Gold Coast Suns and record 22 disposals, six marks, three inside 50s, two rebounds and 14 tackles in the Dockers’ huge win was memorable for the occasion.

Now a back-to-back All-Australian and already a club best and fairest winner, Bowers’ past two seasons have been up there with the best in the league and it is shown with a top five finish here. She also wrote herself into the record books by winning the inaugural Derby Medal in the Dockers’ win over West Coast early in the season.  Having turned 28 last November, Bowers is far from a veteran and still has a number of seasons left to continue her elite defensive pressure and maybe even catch Marinoff in the tackling stakes.

Draft Central’s 2020 Top 50 AFLW Players: #6 – Karen Paxman

WITH the AFL Women’s 2020 season officially come to a close now the awards are done and dusted, Draft Central looks back on our Top 50 Players of season 2020. This countdown purely looks at the 2020 season so does not look at past performances and will not include injured stars such Erin Phillips or Chelsea Randall.

In this edition, we look at a player who was unlucky to miss out on the top five, having been a key cog and real champion across all four AFLW seasons. 

#6 KAREN PAXMAN

7 GAMES AVE: 21.3 disposals, 3.0 marks, 4.1 tackles, 3.4 rebound 50s, 2.3 inside 50s

As consistent as they come, Paxman is one of the best in the business and at 31-years-old is yet to show any signs of stopping. With a 71 per cent disposal efficiency and gut-running ability to match, Paxman is a key cog through the midfield for Melbourne and is never not a threatening option with ball in hand. 

Her endurance and speed is a testament to her constant work rate, able to apply pressure both on and off the ball and use her vision to drive off the half back into incoming traffic with ease. Paxman is difficult to stop once she gets going, barrelling through her opposition and showing real fearlessness in the way she attacks the footy to propel it forward.

Paxman may have had just the one goal to her name in 2020 but that did not phase her, consistently plying her trade and using her quality game sense and strong kick to provide options for her forwards inside 50. Where the goal stat went down this season, majority of other statistics went up again from an already phenomenal 2019 season, proving that Paxman is getting better and better as the game evolves. 

With a season high 27 touches against the Blues and arguably having an impact every game, Paxman was influential in the Dees’ inaugural finals appearance against GWS GIANTS, racking up the six tackles and creating plenty of attacking forays to get the Demons over the line.

To top it off, Paxman is just one of two players to be named in the All-Australian team every season since the AFL Women’s inception, also picking up the captaincy in 2020 as reward for yet another stand-out season.