Tag: Karen Paxman

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. 

2020 Top 10 AFLW matches: #1 – Mithen saves Demons from finals hell

IN a new countdown, Draft Central recalls the Top 10 AFL Women’s games for season 2020, ending with our top pick which saw Melbourne claim a dramatic come-from-behind finals win over GWS via the boot of an unlikely hero. On the road and in their first ever post-season match, the Demons had to raise hell to come out on top.

The match-up produced an opening term befitting of the tense nature of finals time, with both sides going goalless but the contest hot as GWS snuck ahead 2-1 in a scoreline reminiscent of a soccer game.  GIANTS skipper Alicia Eva made her presence felt early on, snapping through the point to put her side ahead while also getting some attention back after pummelling high into Melbourne star, Karen Paxman. The home side looked set to find the big sticks first when Rebecca Privitelli juggled a mark deep inside 50, but her kick held up in the breeze and proved easy picking for the Melbourne defence to prevent a score altogether.

It took a strike from Lily Mithen, who had never previously kicked a goal in her four-year AFL Women’s career to see the first set of six points tick over, converting from a tight angle to put Melbourne ahead after earning a free kick. The excitement was only made more evident in the absence of a crowd, with her teammates duly getting around her. Despite holding territory at what looked like the scoring end, the Demons almost saw their opponent go coast-to-coast in the last 10 minutes, but Aimee Schmidt pulled her shot badly while streaming into goal. She made amends for the miss with a wonderful effort in the final minute of the half, though, benefitting from a spill created by Privitelli at ground level and snapping home the GIANTS’ first major. The buffer was back to just a sole point at the main break, with the famed premiership quarter ahead.

After a tense opening few minutes, Jess Dal Pos earned a free kick within the forward 50 arc and converted a booming set shot to put GWS back in front. It would prove the catalyst for what seemed like a game-breaking run for the GIANTS, owning the term with 2.3 while holding Melbourne scoreless. The GIANTS may have again spurned some guilt-edged chances in front of goal, but another major in the final minute – this time via Cora Staunton and a lucky falcon – had the home side dreaming of a would-be preliminary final berth. The GIANTS were 14 point to the good come the final turn, a margin which exceeded the score Melbourne had put on the board to that point.

The failure to convert in front of goal would come back to haunt GWS though, and Shelley Scott’s accurate set shot gave the Demons a sniff with seven-and-a-half minutes left to play. The pressure only mounted as Adelaide premiership star and 2020 injury top-up player Sarah Perkins slammed home another major, bringing the margin to within a goal. If Melbourne’s pressure hadn’t already set the alarm bells ringing, then the scoreboard would have for GWS. No warning could prevent what eventuated, as Mithen took a terrific one-on-one mark with a tick over a minute left on the clock, and remarkably converted the shot to give her side the lead once again at the ideal time. The final siren would sound with Melbourne once again heading inside forward 50, and scenes of jubilation ensuing.

The cream rose to the top for Melbourne, with all the usual experienced suspects having their say. Daisy Pearce led her side’s disposal count with 22 from defence alongside 15 from Libby Birch, while elite midfield mover Paxman notched 20. The aerial presence of Lauren Pearce and Eden Zanker proved valuable for the winners, but it was Mithen’s two goals which undeniably made her the hero in just her third outing for the season. For the GIANTS, Alyce Parker was at her usual best with a game-high 23 disposals, aided by Rebecca Beeson and Haneen Zreika. The likes of Eva, Schmidt, and Tait Mackrill had what-if games going forward, with their chances adding to the unfortunate statistic of GWS losing despite managing two more scoring shots. The Dees were poised to go on into the preliminary final round, but of course saw the season cut short and a remarkable run, ended.

GWS GIANTS 0.2 | 1.4 | 3.7 | 3.8 (26)
MELBOURNE 0.1 | 1.5 | 1.5 | 4.5 (29)

GOALS:

GWS: A. Schmidt, C. Staunton, J. Dal Pos.
Melbourne: L. Mithen 2, S. Scott, S. Perkins.

ADC BEST:

GWS: A. Parker, R. Beeson, E. Bennetts, H. Zreika, J. Allan
Melbourne: K. Paxman, L. Birch, D. Pearce, L. Mithen, E. Zanker

Prespakis claims best and fairest in second season

CARLTON’S Madison Prespakis has capped off a remarkable 2020 AFL Women’s season by taking out the League Best and Fairest Award at tonight’s W Awards ceremony. While the feeling amongst the room might have been different compared to a packed house at a gala event, Prespakis and the other winners were no less deserving of their awards.

The second-year dynamo has collected just about every award there is to collect, already being a dual best and fairest, dual All-Australian and Rising Star winner. The former Calder Cannons skipper and top five pick has not put a foot wrong in two seasons with the Blues, averaging 20.1 disposals, 2.3 marks, 3.1 tackles and booting 10 goals across 16 games.

Prespakis won the award with 15 votes with Fremantle Dockers star Kiara Bowers just three votes behind. In at third was the Kangaroos’ Emma Kearney on 11 votes while Anne Hatchard and Jenna Bruton managed 10 votes apiece to round out the top five.

The awards did not stop there with former number one pick Isabel Huntington taking out the Rising Star award. Huntington might be the feel-good story of the 2020 W Awards. Having to overcome various injury setbacks including long-term knee injuries, Huntington repaid the faith the Bulldogs showed in her by selecting her with Pick 1 back in the 2017 AFL Women’s Draft. She had only managed the five games prior to 2020, but doubled that amount this year and averaged 13.0 disposals, 4.8 marks, 2.6 tackles and 3.4 rebounds. It was enough for her to earn All-Australian honours this year.

Caitlin Greiser has known since the season’s conclusion that she would receive the Leading goal kicker award, booting 10 goals in her debut season. The former Western Jets talent missed out on being drafted when she played as an overager, but then crossed from Melbourne University to Southern Saints where coach Peta Searle saw enough to offer her a senior list spot. Coming from a soccer background, Greiser did not look overawed on the big stage, with a season-best three majors against Richmond, and the winning goal against Melbourne to spur the Saints onto victory in both those matches.

Announced the night before, the other major achievement bestowed upon 21 of the league’s finest was the All-Australian team. The team featured 11 debutants in Sarah Allen (Adelaide Crows), Libby Birch (Melbourne), Isabelle Huntington (Western Bulldogs), Jaimee Lambert (Collingwood), Olivia Purcell (Geelong Cats), Caitlin Greiser (St Kilda), Kate Hore (Melbourne), Sharni Layton (Collingwood), Kalinda Howarth (Gold Coast SUNS), Alyce Parker (GWS GIANTS) and Ash Riddell (North Melbourne). Along with the debutants, two players maintained their unbeaten streak in the league’s best side with Karen Paxman (captain) and Emma Kearney (vice-captain) handed leadership roles for making a remarkable fourth-straight team.

The full team is below:

2020 Top 10 AFLW matches: #6 – Demons cause opening round upset over flag favourites

COMING in at number six of our Top 10 count of the best AFL Women’s games for season is the Demons first round win over premiership favourites North Melbourne in a nail-biting contest at Casey Fields. Here’s how we recalled the game:

Melbourne has claimed a huge scalp in the opening round of the AFL Women’s 2020 season, downing one of the premiership favourites in North Melbourne at Casey Fields. In a see-sawing contest, the Demons scored the final goal of the game courtesy of Eden Zanker, in a low-scoring and blustery affair to win 3.4 (22) to 3.2 (20).

A warm and windy day at Casey Fields not only welcomed the return of AFL Women’s to the south-eastern suburbs of Victoria, but also the return of Melbourne captain, Daisy Pearce. The Dees’ skipper was playing her first competitive match since 2018, and started at half-back, winning an intercept possession straight off a clearance and getting in the thick of it early. Young gun, Tyla Hanks set the tone with a great tackle in the opening minute at half-back, but the going was tough early with both side’s defences standing up with the blustery conditions doing plenty to impact the inside 50 entries.

It took until the fifth minute when Kaitlyn Ashmore mowed down a Melbourne opponent close to goal and won a free kick 15m out on a 45 degree angle. The breeze did not pose a problem for the talented utility who slotted the first goal of the match. The Roos might have surprised a few by recruiting mature-age Western Bulldogs VFL Women’s recruit, Ellie Gavalas with their first pick, but she showed exactly why they brought her in with some great tackling ability, as did Melbourne Uni recruit, Tahni Nestor with a huge run-down tackle on Zanker to win a free kick. Ashmore’s forward work was looking good with a strong lead and mark about 35m out, but opted to pass which was spoiled.

With only their third inside 50, Melbourne’s Tegan Cunningham took a big contested mark, but her kick got caught in the breeze and fell short. An end-to-end play by the Roos saw Daisy Bateman mark on the 50m line, and knowing the distance was beyond her, looked for options. Luckily though, her opponent took a step too far on the mark, and Bateman was awarded a 50m penalty, converting the major from the goal square to put her side 12 points up with the quarter into red time. The home team was attacking fiercely late in the term, but back-to-back 50m penalties for mark infringements brought North Melbourne back to within goal-scoring range. The kick on goal fell short, and Gavalas nearly got her first major with a quick snap but missed to the right and the siren sounded with the Roos 2.1 (13) to Dees’ 0.0 (0).

Now with the wind at their backs, the Dees could start to mount an offensive themselves. A huge moment came in the sixth minute when Kate Hore produced a perfectly timed run-down tackle as her opponent went to clear the danger out of defence. The ball never connected with her boot and Hore converted the subsequent set shot from straight in front 30m out. Melbourne was on the board just over 20 minutes into the match.

The game was predominantly being played in Melbourne’s half, with the Demons constantly putting pressure on the Kangaroos’ defence. It worried the visitors into giving away a stoppage free to Elise O’Dea in front of goal, but her set shot drifted to the left courtesy of the strong breeze. Melbourne’s ‘Old Firm’ of O’Dea, Pearce and Karen Paxman were standing up and leading the side across the three lines, while the the speed and excitement of Hore and Shelley Heath inside 50 was piling on the pressure for the home side.

Hore was best-on for her impact in the game, pressuring an opponent to force the ball out of bounds and win a free kick deep in the pocket. Her set shot missed, but she would soon put her side in front with the last meaningful play of the quarter, after Zanker’s dribble attempt fortuitously bounced away from the goal, but also a North Melbourne opponent and bounced straight into the arms of the running Hore who converted from point-blank range.

Melbourne had a simple task against the wind – try to clog up the scoring to avoid North Melbourne holding an unassailable lead heading into the last term. For the first four minutes, nothing was able to penetrate past the last line of the Dees’ sturdy defence. With so much experience back there, they were able to work the ball out of the danger zone time and time again. Though the first meaningful chance came via a holding free to Emma King about 35m out straight in front. Her shot looked on target for the most part, but drifted to the left for one behind and levelled the scores.

While Pearce might have been the headline return story for the match, North had one of its own too, with Ash Riddell returning for just her third game after missing the rest of last season after going down in Round 2. She was in the right spot at the right time goal-side to receive a quick handball from Jasmine Garner to snap around her body and put it through with a celebration worthy of a vital match-turning goal. The Roos would need at least one more and now allow the home side to get one on the board of their own if they were to hold enough sway to restrict the opposition in the final term.

The match had shades of last year’s thrilling encounter, and while Cunningham had the chance to put her side back level with a tight shot from the boundary, it went to the right.  Melbourne was attacking fiercely in the dying minutes of the third term to try and get one against the flow, but North kept repelling time and time again, including a potentially match-winning tackle from Bethany Lynch inside defensive 50. The Roos led by five points at the final break, but the Dees would have the all-important win to try and reverse the 2019 result at this venue.

While North did all the attacking early in the fourth term, it was Melbourne’s ability to run and find space that was the difference in the end. Every player was in the Kangaroos’ half and it led to an end-to- end play by the Dees for Zanker to be all alone inside 50 to run into an open goal and put the Dees in front by a point. Melbourne had multiple chances to really ice the game over the next few minutes, but could not seem to put through the final dagger as the North defence stood up time and time again.

The Kangaroos kept trying to pump it long out of defensive 50, but the Demons set up behind the ball so every kick down through midfield was being picked off by the experienced Demons defenders. Both teams were desperate and the Roos coughed up another free kick and with 20 seconds remaining, the Demons were able to lock the ball up enough to win the game by just two points in a thrilling contest.

The 2018 Most Valuable Player (MVP), Emma Kearney finished with 20 touches and nine tackles, shaded by Riddell who was arguably the best on the ground after quarter time, racking up 20 disposals, five tackles and booting that timely third quarter goal, while Jenna Bruton laid 11 tackles and was fierce throughout the four quarters. Aside from Hore (13 disposals, two marks, three tackles and two goals) who was outstanding in crunch moments for the Dees, Paxman and O’Dea (both 15 disposals) and Pearce (12 disposals) were terrific.

MELBOURNE 0.0 | 2.2 | 2.3 | 3.4 (22)
KANGAROOS 2.1 | 2.1 | 3.2 | 3.2 (20)

GOALS:

Melbourne: K. Hore 2, E. Zanker.
Kangaroos: K. Ashmore, D. Bateman, A. Riddell.

ADC BEST:

Melbourne: K. Hore, D. Pearce, K. Paxman, E. O’Dea, S. Heath, T. Hanks
Kangaroos: A. Riddell, E. Kearney, J. Bruton, E. Gavalas, D. Hardiman, K. Ashmore

2020 Top 10 AFLW matches: #8 – Saints shock unbeaten Dees

IN a new countdown, Draft Central recalls the Top 10 AFL Women’s games for season 2020, moving onto our #8 which saw St Kilda’s historic inaugural win against the then unbeaten Melbourne. Heading into the Round 3 contest, Melbourne had stunned premiership favourites, North Melbourne in the opening round before accounting for the Western Bulldogs in Round 2. St Kilda had gone down to the Bulldogs in the Saints’ first ever match in the league, before losing in a spirited fight on the road against the reigning premiers, Adelaide.

It was a history-making performance by the Saints claiming their inaugural AFLW win and stunning the lacklustre Demons in the meantime. The start was relatively even with an inaccurate Melbourne booting 1.4 to 1.0 in the opening term, with that sole goal proving to be the Dees’ only one of the game. The low-scoring match came down to a strong second half effort from the Saints, who well and truly took advantage of Melbourne’s inaccuracy in front of goal. 22 Under 22 forward Caitlin Greiser impressed booting two goals for the Saints, including the parting blow midway through the final term, using her clean hands and strength to evade Melbourne’s defence and well and truly steal the show. While Melbourne had a heap of experience at its disposal, the Saints went in hard for the footy and outshone the Dees who simply could not convert.

This year’s Best First Year Player, Georgia Patrikios continued her impressive form through the midfield, collecting 15 touches while teammates Tilly Lucas-Rodd and Olivia Vesely topped the disposal count at 16 apiece and high pressure duo Nat Exon and Rosie Dillon combined for 14 tackles. While the Melbourne unit failed to play its typical game – down to constant pressing defence from the Saints cutting off options forward, they still had a plethora of solid performers despite Shelley Scott kicking the Dees’ lone goal in the first quarter. Formidable and experienced trio in Karen Paxman, Elise O’Dea and Daisy Pearce combined to be a formidable force with Paxman taking home the most possessions in the game with 26. O’Dea was not far behind with 20 while Libby Birch and Maddi Gay also found their fair share of the footy but it was not enough to change the end result.

As history would have it, Melbourne still reached the 2020 AFL Women’s finals series, winning a classic contest against GWS GIANTS before the season was called off due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Saints would win another game and not only avoid the wooden spoon in their Conference, but finish above fellow newcomer West Coast, and foundation side Western Bulldogs as well, the team that knocked them off in the opening round.

ST KILDA 1.0 | 2.0 | 2.0 | 3.1 (19)
MELBOURNE 1.4 | 1.5 | 1.8 | 1.8 (14)

GOALS:

St Kilda: C. Greiser (2), D. Guttridge.
Melbourne: S. Scott.

BESTS:

St Kilda: C. Greiser, T. Lucas-Rodd, G. Patrikios, O. Vesley,
Melbourne: K. Paxman, E. O’Dea, D. Pearce, S. Scott

2020 AFL Women’s season review: Melbourne

MELBOURNE earned its first-ever finals berth in 2020 after years of near-misses, claiming a thrilling maiden post-season win in the process to cap off its successful season. Under the tutelage of Mick Stinear, the seasoned Demons side notched four wins despite enduring harsh spates of key injuries and absentees throughout the year, as they enter their premiership window. The return of skipper Daisy Pearce and elevation of Sarah Perkins to the senior squad buoyed the Dees at different points in the year, with the squad’s ability to adapt into makeshift situations its key feature. Relive the highs and lows of Melbourne’s campaign, with a nod to its most outstanding players in our season review.

RECORD: 3rd (B), 4-2 (1-0 finals), 164.5%

RESULTS:

R1: defeated North Melbourne by 2 points
R2: defeated Western Bulldogs by 12 points
R3: lost to St Kilda by 5 points
R4:
defeated Collingwood by 20 points
R5:
defeated West Coast by 59 points 
R6:
lost to Carlton by 16 points
SF: defeated GWS by 3 points

A stirring Round 1 upset over pre-season premiership fancy, North Melbourne set the ball rolling in an ideal way for Melbourne, and it was backed up by another solid win against the youthful Western Bulldogs in Round 2. But the early momentum was brought to a halt as the Demons unforgivably went down to St Kilda in a low-scoring affair, with subsequent wins over Collingwood and West Coast helping them make the ground back up. For all that good form in consecutive wins, Carlton put another loss on Melbourne’s record via its strong defence, but it was soon forgotten as the Dees romped home to snatch a thrilling finals victory against GWS.

SEASON HIGH: Mithen rescues the Dees from finals hell

There were many highs to choose from among the key moments in Melbourne’s year – knocking off North Melbourne in Round 1, and the returns of Pearce and Perkins to name a couple – but none of them come close to this triumph. Staring a finals defeat in the face with over two goals to make up at the last change, the Dees leant on an unlikely hero to save the day. Enter Lily Mithen, who booted her first two career goals to help her side claim an incredible comeback win at the death in an instant finals classic.

SEASON LOW: Going down to expansion side, St Kilda

For the many lofty heights have come some pretty devastating lows for Melbourne supporters over the years, and this one came out of nowhere. After two impressive wins to open the year, Melbourne was expected to feast on winless expansion side, St Kilda. Instead, the Demons could only muster 1.8 as the Saints came from behind at the final break to claim an incredible upset win – the first in their short history. Melbourne’s tendency for losing winnable games had reared its head once again in a costly lapse.

FIVE KEY PERFORMERS:

Karen Paxman (21.3 disposals, 71% efficiency, 3 marks, 4.1 tackles, 5.6 clearances, 2.3 rebound 50s, 3.4 inside 50s, 337 metres gained)

After becoming Melbourne’s prime midfield mover in the absence of Pearce last season, Paxman continued her incredible run of form to stake her claim as one of the competition’s elites. A deserving All Australian squad member, the durable engine room operator led the league for clearances, and her club for disposals, contested possessions, inside 50s, rebound 50s, and metres gained in a remarkable campaign.

Daisy Pearce (14.9 disposals, 69% efficiency, 2.7 marks, 5.7 intercept possessions, 2.9 tackles, 1.7 rebound 50s, 1.6 inside 50s)

Arguably the greatest women’s player of all time prior to the AFL Women’s era, Pearce returned to competition in emphatic style, appearing in all seven games as skipper of her side. Utilised in a slightly different role off half-back, the 31-year-old showcased her terrific skill on the ball in the defensive half and was named in the All Australian squad. Still got it.

Kate Hore (12.7 disposals, 3.3 marks, 3.9 tackles, 2.4 inside 50s, 5 goals)

The third of Melbourne’s All Australian squad members is Hore, who maintained her high standard of performance in another terrific AFLW campaign. The skilful forward continues to find avenues to goal having booted five as her side’s equal-leading goalkicker, but also works hard up the ground to provide avenues into the forward half. Has not missed a beat since her 2018 debut.

Libby Birch (12.1 disposals, 3.6 marks, 6.4 intercept possessions, 1.6 tackles, 2.1 rebound 50s)

Melbourne’s boom recruit coming into 2020 was Birch, and the defender delivered on her already impressive reputation. The former-Bulldog slotted in seamlessly to the Demons’ back five, leading her new side in intercept possessions across all seven games. Birch was the perfect partner in crime to Peace in defence, intercepting with ease and combining with the champ in transition.

Elise O’Dea (14.3 disposals, 1.9 marks, 3.9 tackles, 3 clearances, 2 inside 50s)

The foundation Demon was once again a reliable outlet for her side through midfield, providing that hard inside edge through the engine room alongside the likes of Paxman. O’Dea’s numbers may have been slightly down in comparison to other years, but the former-captain’s value comes through in her selfless work around the ball and undeniable leadership qualities.

THE YOUNG GUN:

Tyla Hanks (10.4 disposals, 1.3 marks, 4.7 tackles, 1.4 inside 50s)

The Demons may possess somewhat of an ageing list, but also lay claim to one of the competition’s most exciting young guns in Hanks. After steadily entering the elite level in a forward role throughout her rookie season, the Gippsland Power graduate enjoyed more midfield minutes this year, and led her side for tackles while showing plenty of promise.

THE MAKESHIFT RUCK

Eden Zanker (10.3 disposals, 1.9 marks, 3.6 tackles, 11 hitouts, 1.7 inside 50s, 4 goals)

Zanker was one to step up and shine in the wake of Melbourne’s desperate injury situation, adding ruck craft to her game while also remaining a threat up forward. In the absence of Lauren Pearce, the 20-year-old used her sizeable leap at 183cm to lead her club for hitouts, and booted four goals during her time inside forward 50. Another promising youngster who thrived in a different role.

THE SPEARHEAD:

Shelley Scott (11.1 disposals, 4 marks, 3.7 tackles, 2.7 inside 50s, 3.6 score involvements, 5 goals)

While she may stack up at the same height as fellow leading goalkicker, Hore, Scott played the more traditional key forward role of the two this season. The 170cm spearhead’s five goals made for an equal career-best haul, and her work as a marking target was sensational. Scott led the club for marks (including contested) and score involvements in an impressive season.

VERDICT:

Melbourne is perhaps one of the sides which would have been most disappointed by the shortened season given its ageing list, the fact it had beaten North Melbourne, and that it had not yet faced Fremantle. The premiership window seems to remain ajar, but time may run out soon as the next generation takes over from foundation players. Still, the Demons were right up there at their best and should be in for another tilt at finals next year.

2020 AFL Women’s season review

UNPRECEDENTED is what the fourth edition of AFL Women’s was in every sense, with the skill level and fanfare growing, but uncharted circumstances cutting the season short – twice. While we may only have been graced with six of the scheduled eight regular season rounds and one exhilarating week of finals, there is plenty to unpack from what was a truly special chapter in the women’s footy story. We bring you all the key stats and winners, the highs and lows of each teams’ season, and the leading candidates for the premiership, MVP and Rising Star awards in our 2020 season recap.

CONFERENCE LADDERS

Conference A

1st – North Melbourne (5-1, 227%)
2nd – GWS GIANTS (4-2, 123%)
3rd – Brisbane (3-2-1, 107%)
4th – Gold Coast SUNS (2-3-1, 101%)
5th – Geelong (2-4, 81%)
6th – Adelaide (2-4, 80%)
7th – Richmond (0-6, 36%)

Conference B

1st – Fremantle (6-0, 155%)
2nd – Carlton (5-1, 152%)
3rd – Melbourne (4-2, 165%)
4th – Collingwood (4-2, 154%)
5th – St Kilda (2-4, 91%)
6th – Western Bulldogs (1-5, 73%)
7th – West Coast (1-5, 32%)

Combined

1st – Fremantle
2nd – North Melbourne
3rd – Carlton
4th – Melbourne
5th – Collingwood
6th – GWS GIANTS
7th – Brisbane
8th – Gold Coast SUNS
9th – St Kilda
10th – Geelong
11th – Adelaide
12th – Western Bulldogs
13th – West Coast
14th – Richmond

FINALS RESULTS

North Melbourne 1.1 | 2.3 | 4.4 | 5.4 (34)
def.
Collingwood 1.0 | 4.1 | 4.1 | 5.2 (32)

GWS GIANTS 0.2 | 1.4 | 3.7 | 3.8 (26)
def. by
Melbourne 0.1 | 1.5 | 1.5 | 4.5 (29)

Fremantle 2.3 | 5.5 | 8.6 | 12.8 (80)
def.
Gold Coast 1.1 | 1.2 | 1.3 | 1.4 (10)

Carlton 1.0 | 2.2 | 4.6 | 6.8 (44)
def.
Brisbane 1.2 | 1.2 | 2.3 | 2.3 (15)

STATS LEADERS

Disposals:

Jaimee Lambert (Collingwood) 156
Anne Hatchard (Adelaide) 152
Ashleigh Riddell (North Melbourne) 149
Karen Paxman (Melbourne) 149
Madison Prespakis (Carlton) 149

Marks:

Chloe Molloy (Collingwood) 32
Jasmine Garner (North Melbourne) 32
Kate Lutkins (Brisbane) 31
Ebony Marinoff (Adelaide) 31
Kerryn Harrington (Carlton) 31

Tackles:

Kiara Bowers (Fremantle) 99
Katie-Jayne Grieve (Fremantle) 51
Jacqui Yorston (Gold Coast) 48
Ebony Marinoff (Adelaide) 47
Brittany Tully (GWS) 46

Goals:

Sabreena Duffy (Fremantle) 12
Caitlin Greiser (St Kilda) 10
Jesse Wardlaw (Brisbane) 9
Kaitlyn Ashmore (North Melbourne) 9
Kalinda Howarth (Gold Coast) 9

Inside 50s:

Jaimee Lambert (Collingwood) 32
Emma Kearney (North Melbourne) 29
Jasmine Garner (North Melbourne) 29
Ashleigh Riddell (North Melbourne) 27
Hayley Miller & Kiara Bowers (Fremantle) 25

Rebound 50s:

Phoebe Monahan (Richmond) 41
Stacey Livingstone (Collingwood) 29
Lauren Aherns (Gold Coast) 24
Jade Pregelj (Gold Coast) 24
Kate Lutkins (Brisbane) 23

Clearances:

Karen Paxman (Melbourne) 39
Jaimee Lambert (Collingwood) 32
Emma Swanson (West Coast) 30
Ashleigh Riddell (North Melbourne) 30
Olivia Purcell (Geelong) 30
Madison Prespakis (Carlton) 30

Hitouts:

Lauren Bella (Gold Coast) 130
Sharni Layton (Collingwood) 120
Breann Moody (Carlton) 117
Mim Strom (Fremantle) 114
Jessy Keeffe (Brisbane) 114

ROUND-BY-ROUND HIGHLIGHTS

Round 1: Dees take out the premiership fancy

Round 2: SUNS shine for historic opening win

Round 3: First-ever Q-clash delivers a thriller

Round 4: Carlton’s vengeance in grand final rematch

Round 5: Dockers take out Lions to remain undefeated

Round 6: Bulldogs bring it to Freo in instant classic

Semi Finals: Mithen’s maiden goals save Dees from finals hell

TEAM HIGHLIGHTS

Adelaide: The successful return of Erin Phillips

Brisbane: Going nowhere – knocking off the Crows in Round 1

Carlton: Delivering a baptism of fire for Richmond

Collingwood: Nabbing its first-ever win over Carlton after four tries

Fremantle: The barnstorming Round 6 win over the Western Bulldogs

Geelong: Pipping Richmond in a shootout for its opening win

Gold Coast: Picking up its first set of AFLW premiership points at home, Round 2

GWS: Knocking off the reigning premiers away from home

Melbourne: A spirited finals victory against all odds, off the boot of Lily Mithen

North Melbourne: Holding on for its maiden finals victory against the Magpies

Richmond: Marquee recruit Sabrina Frederick boots the club’s first goal

St Kilda: Beating-out the more experienced Melbourne for its maiden AFLW win

West Coast: Kicking its highest total to knock over the Dogs in a thriller

Western Bulldogs: The emergence of their young stars

TEAM LOWLIGHTS

Adelaide: Injuries plaguing a rather lacklustre premiership defence, never got going

Brisbane: Running out of legs – finishing with four-straight losses

Carlton: Losing to the old enemy for the first time in history

Collingwood: The heartbreaking knee injury to Ash Brazill

Fremantle: Being stripped of the chance to go undefeated throughout a whole season

Geelong: Nina Morrison’s second ACL injury in as many seasons

Gold Coast: A dismal finals showing

GWS: Getting pipped at the post on home turf come finals time

Melbourne: Going down to an expansion team in Round 3, and a spate of injuries

North Melbourne: The Round 1 hiccup, could have been disastrous

Richmond: Six losses by over 20 points, take your pick

St Kilda: Throwing away what would have been a huge win over Fremantle

West Coast: Setting the record for the lowest-ever AFLW score (later beaten)

Western Bulldogs: Being beaten by West Coast in a streak of five losses

MVP CANDIDATES

Seldom do midfielders miss out on this kind of award, and the candidates for season 2020 prove no different. With that being the case, midfielders with a difference have garnered the centre of attention in this debate of late – those who can find the goals, have big tackle numbers, penetrate each arc, or dominate the clearances. Each of the six names put forward have extra strings to their bow, making them the standouts for season 2020.

Kiara Bowers – At the heart of Fremantle’s success this year was Bowers, a seasoned ball winner who is as tough as they come. The Dockers midfielder was impactful going both ways; getting her hands on the ball for a club-high 123 disposals (17.6 average), as well as a record-breaking 99 tackles (14.1 average) to show her dominance on the defensive end. Given her impact around the ball and Fremantle’s unbeaten run, it is hard to see her not featuring in the votes for most games.

Jasmine Garner – This was a true breakout year for Garner, who took her game to the next level on the back of an improved running game. Moving further afield into midfield, Garner was able to rip games apart with her knack of finding the ball, combined with shrewd timing in her forward movement to also find the goals. She was second in the league for score involvements (32) and first in marks (32), showing her impact around the ground.

Jaimee Lambert – Has a case for being the best player in the competition right now, and is again a player who just keeps on getting better. Lambert was dominant in every sense of the word, possessing an unmatched ability to find the ball at the contest (league-high 156 disposals, 84 contested), while also providing a source of inspiration going forward with a club-high 29 score involvements and 32 inside 50s. Lambert stood up when it mattered this season, and was near-unstoppable in full flight.

Karen Paxman – Having taken over as Melbourne’s prime ball winner in the absence of Daisy Pearce last year, Paxman continued to stake her claim as the competition’s premier clearance player in this campaign. In proving as much, Paxman collected a league-high 39 clearances, and was equal-third for disposals (149, 21.3 average) as the fuel for the Dee’s engine room. Her prominance in Melbourne’s four wins makes her a strong candidate, without the fanfare of others.

Madison Prespakis – The 2019 Rising Star winner is an out-and-out superstar in just her second season, and continued to build on her already impressive resume. Prespakis continually put her side on her back at the important moments, stamping her status as the Blues’ prime ball winner despite resisting heavy tags most weeks. The nuggety midfielder led her club in a range of key stats, and also found the goals on three occasions.

Others to consider – Alyce Parker, Ebony Marinoff, Anne Hatchard, Emily Bates, Emma Kearney, Ashleigh Riddell

RISING STAR CANDIDATES

Grace Egan – Richmond would be kicking themselves for not matching the Blues’ bid for Egan at last year’s draft, with the physical midfielder going on to have a stellar debut season. Egan instantly became a key part of Carlton’s midfield, winning the ball with ease and going hard at it. Earned her nomination in Round 4 with 18 disposals, six marks and four tackles in Carlton’s big win over Adelaide.

Caitlin Greiser – The ‘G-Train’ lit up Moorabbin in the Saints’ inaugural AFL Women’s campaign, comfortably leading their goalkicking with 10 majors across all six games. After a goalless debut, Greiser found the big sticks in every other outing, and earned her nomination on the back of two goals in St Kilda’s first-ever win – including an absolute boomer from around the 50m arc.

Isabel Huntington – In a surprise to many, Huntington had not yet earned a Rising Star nomination in her three years as a Bulldog, with the former number one pick still eligible for the award given the fact and her age. A reliable figure in the Dogs’ back five, Huntington returned a consistent campaign and earned her nomination in Round 6 with 15 disposals and six marks as the Dogs almost knocked off Fremantle.

THE PREMIERSHIP GOES TO…?

Could’ve – Despite Fremantle being the only undefeated side, Carlton and North Melbourne could have argued a strong case for taking out the premiership, and were due to clash in the preliminary finals. Both holding 5-1 regular season records, the Blues and Roos overcame early-season hiccups to prove themselves as contenders. And let’s not forget Melbourne, who snuck into the second week of finals and could have produced anything after a daring escape against GWS. But given Carlton’s form, adaptability, finals experience, and dominance around the ball, they are this year’s ‘could’ve’.

Should’ve – Fremantle is the obvious candidate here given it was the only undefeated side left and topped the overall ladder. In trumping all-comers, the Dockers proved they were the competition’s benchmark, and were capable of knocking off the best the league had to offer. Case-in-point – beating the Lions in a top-of-the-conferences clash. If there was to be a winner, it should’ve been Fremantle.

Would’ve – Again, it is easy to go with Fremantle as the ‘would’ve’ been winner given its unmatched record, but how the teams would’ve matched up is something we will never know. Fremantle did not play against Melbourne, North Melbourne, or Carlton during the regular season, leaving it as an unknown. North Melbourne’s status as premiership fancy coming into the year would’ve put it in good stead, while Carlton’s defensive counter to Fremantle’s attack would have been interesting to see. Another preliminary final loss to Melbourne could also have been on the cards for the Dockers, too, so it is anyone’s guess as to which team would’ve won. May we find out next year.

 

AFLW stats analysis: Semi-finals – How the four last standing got there

IT was a story of two tales with the matches between Melbourne and GIANTS along with North Melbourne and Collingwood, being decided by three points or less, while the clashes between Carlton and Brisbane, and Fremantle and Gold Coast were blowouts. The first game of the finals series saw North and Collingwood score a combined 10 goals, while the Dees and Giants managed seven between them. The final game of the round saw the Blues and Lions notch up eight goals collectively. The outlier however seemed to be the Dockers verse Suns. With majority of matches only recording a collective maximum of 10 goals, Fremantle single handily took account for that, proving to be unstoppable in front of the big sticks with a whopping 12 goals while the Suns only registered one major for the match.

Carlton:

The Blues showcased their strong ball movement and ability to hit the scoreboard on Sunday winning the game with ease. They controlled the flow of the game winning the disposal count 236 compared to 181. Carlton simply did not allow Brisbane any easy access to the footy leading the way in both kicks 148 and handballs 88. They won just about every major key performance indicator registering five more marks 42-37 and won the inside 50 battle 39 to 20 which in turned reflected their accuracy sitting at 36 per cent compared to 25. Georgia Gee proved to be a hot option in front of goals with three goals while dynamic forward duo Tayla Harris and Darcy Vescio managed to get on the scoreboard with one goal each. Despite winning, the Blues will be hoping to improve on their accuracy kicking eight behinds compared to six goals, meaning they could have had a big day out if they were on target.

Fremantle:

The Dockers proved that scoring was no issue on Saturday consistently peppering the goals and trapping the ball inside 50 racking up 39 inside 50s compared to the Suns’ 26. Fremantle had 20 shots on goal with 12 of them being majors highlighting just how efficient they were inside the forward arc going at 51 per cent. Leading goal kicker Sabreena Duffy made no mistake in front of the big sticks converting three goals from her 11 touches while the likes of Kate Flood, Gemma Houghton and Gabby O’Sullivan shared the load inside 50 with two goals apiece. The Dockers ability to find a target in front of goal and move the ball quickly was a key component of their game play able to move the ball with ease. It was a complete performance by the Dockers who made it look easy throughout their clash however when it came to ruckwork they will want to gain more dominance losing the contest 18-29.

Melbourne:

It was a hard-fought slog for Melbourne who did just enough to get over the line despite losing pretty much all of the key performance indicators. The main thing that set Melbourne apart was their conversion rate sitting at 44 per cent compared to GWS’ 27 per cent. The Dees also just won the tackle count 60 to 59 highlighting their ability to hunt both the ball and player while most importantly they made the most of their opportunities in front of goal notching up four goals compared to three. When it came to goal scorers Lily Mithen was the standout player shooting truly with two majors to her name while both Daisy Pearce and Karen Paxman were the major ball winners. Although the Demons got the win, they struggled for accuracy inside 50 unable to capitalise on their chances and failed to generate momentum coming out of the back half with 17 rebound 50s.

North Melbourne:

Much like Melbourne, North prevailed in a tight game running out two-point victors. The Kangaroos were hot inside 50 with nine scoring shots compared to seven and 28 inside 50s to 20. The Roos while they were not overly efficient managed to trap the ball inside the forward arc and create scoring opportunities. In terms of defensive pressure, North Melbourne showcased their physicality racking up 11 more tackles with 58 to 47. Ash Riddell led the way on the field racking up the touches while Emma Kearney also plied her trade winning the footy at the coalface and laying strong tackles. The Roos could not get the ball in their hands losing the possession battle and struggled to take a mark something they will be hoping to address next season.

Demons’ remarkable comeback sees inaugural AFL Women’s finals victory

THE second match of the AFL Women’s semi-finals saw GWS GIANTS host Melbourne in a real battle of the midfield with both sides coming in relatively equal. While the Dees had to ensure they had enough players to take the field – with two of their Irish talents heading home prior to the weekend – the GIANTS had the opportunity to bring back some of their big guns and take advantage of a two-game winning streak. Unfortunately for the stalwart GIANTS however, a massive burst in energy and drive was the clincher, with Melbourne digging deep for three straight goals to defeat the home side, 4.5 (29) to 3.8 (26).

Right from the start it was a tough contest, with both sides going in hard for the footy and relentless in their pursuit. While the first quarter was goalless it was not for a lack of trying, thanks to the impressive defensive effort of both sides. Melbourne’s Libby Birch and Daisy Pearce (15 and 22 touches respectively), and GIANTS’ Elle Bennetts and Tanya Hetherington (13 and 10) were doing the job off the half-back for their respective sides and making it tough to penetrate forward 50. Neither side was able to really apply the scoreboard pressure required to guarantee a lead early, and while an inaugural goal for Demons speedster Lily Mithen early in the second did plenty to raise morale it was only just enough to keep the Dees ahead, with Aimee Schmidt looking dangerous up the other end, finishing with 1.2 alongside fellow goalsneak Cora Staunton. While the return of Lauren Pearce was a handy inclusion for the Dees, it was the GIANTS midfield that had it over the Melbourne outfit, forcing errors and turnovers in the Demons’ forward half with Jess Allan producing clean taps to the GIANTS at the centre bounce. While the Dees had 10 more inside 50s, the GIANTS were much more clinical in the third quarter to take a solid lead and leave the Demons in the dirt, rendering the Dees goalless in the third while goals to Schmidt and Jess Dal Pos saw victory inching away from Melbourne’s sights. Eden Zanker continued to bull her way through the contest, aiding Lauren Pearce in the ruck and using her aerial ability to bring ball to ground, with Karen Paxman using her experience to take the footy from there and drive the ball forward.

Alicia Eva (12 disposals, 10 tackles, two behinds) looked dangerous in the final quarter but was unable to extend the lead – something the GIANTS captain will be ruing as real a missed opportunity, with the side unable to reenter their forward 50 for much of the last quarter. Alyce Parker (23 disposals, four marks) proved why she is such a highly valued player, digging deep and impacting the contest with her ability to find the ball. The GIANTS continued to control much of the ball movement through the middle of the ground, rebounding well with Brittany Tully (11 disposals, six tackles) and Bennetts using their speed to keep the Dees on their toes. But Melbourne’s experience well and truly came to play, with the defensive pressure going up a notch to ensure there were little uncontested marks or clean entries inside their defensive 50. A goal to Shelley Scott had the Dees up on their feet, with a closing margin and all the momentum putting the GIANTS on the defensive. Still down by nine points with less than five minutes to play, Melbourne really came out of the blocks to apply the scoreboard pressure they’d been missing, with a goal to Sarah Perkins putting the Dees within four points of victory. Less than a minute on the clock, and a great mark from Mithen saw the Demon with an opportunity to gift Melbourne its inaugural finals victory and chew up some time – and kicked true for her second career goal. Retaining possession was key for the Dees as the seconds dwindled, with the final siren seeing a massive three-point semi-final victory in the books after trailing for majority of the match. 

Mithen impressed with her two goals and some impressive – and daring – marks getting the job done up the ground for the Dees. Daisy Pearce and Paxman were some of the driving forces in the latter stage of the match, combining for 43 touches, nine tackles and five marks, while Birch was influential as ever down back, consistently providing that rebounding effort with her ability to intercept critical ball. Despite Aleisha Newman being rendered goalless once more – her first goalless season at AFL Women’s level – her drive forward was crucial in the later stages of the match while her speed and intensity saw her collect five tackles, just behind Scott, Perkins and Paxman with six apiece.

For the GIANTS, Jacinda Barclay and Rebecca Privitelli were both kept relatively quiet, and while they were solid targets up the ground, collecting five marks apiece, they were unable to have the impact they have shown in past games. Haneen Zreika and Rebecca Beeson looked dangerous at times, finding plenty of the footy with their respective 17 and 19 disposals, while Eva’s and Tully’s tackling pressure was vital.

GWS GIANTS 0.2 | 1.4 | 3.7 | 3.8 (26)
MELBOURNE 0.1 | 1.5 | 1.5 | 4.5 (29)

GOALS:

GWS: A. Schmidt, C. Staunton, J. Dal Pos.
Melbourne: L. Mithen 2, S. Scott, S. Perkins.

ADC BEST:

GWS: A. Parker, R. Beeson, E. Bennetts, H. Zreika, J. Allan
Melbourne: K. Paxman, L. Birch, D. Pearce, L. Mithen, E. Zanker

GIANTS host Demons in inaugural AFL Women’s finals appearance

TWO inaugural AFL Women’s finalists will face off in the second match of the semi-finals, with second ranked GWS GIANTS (Conference A) and Melbourne (Conference B) both taking the field in a finals scenario for the first time in the competition’s history. Both sides are sitting on four wins from six matches and among the top sides in their respective conferences, making for an enticing battle between two talented teams.  

GWS GIANTS v. Melbourne
Saturday, 21 March, 2.40pm AEDT
GIANTS Stadium

Melbourne and GIANTS did not play during the home and away season in 2020, making for an interesting battle for the opposing conference teams – especially given if the two conferences were combined, Melbourne would sit in fourth ahead of GIANTS on percentage in fifth. While Melbourne will likely come in as favourites this week, another anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury last week – their fifth of the season – sees the Dees down in stocks once more while the GIANTS have the winning streak to get over the line. While the two sides have not come up against each other in 2020, the GIANTS will hope to fight back against recent history with losses to the Dees in both 2018 and 2019 sure to be on their mind, though plenty has changed for both teams since those seasons. 

The GIANTS will hope to welcome back fearless leader Alicia Eva, with the tenacious midfielder a key cog that could help push the Dees to the limit. GIANTS fans are hopeful ruck Jess Allan (averaging 16.8 hitouts) will return to the fray this week after sitting out with sickness in Round 6 to team up with Rebecca Beeson and Alyce Parker who continue to have an influence both on and off the footy, while Brittany Tully is having an impressive season on the track with her tackling pressure, collecting almost seven per match. Cora Staunton and Rebecca Privitelli have been key targets up forward, bearing the brunt of the goalkicking with seven and six respectively, while Elle Bennetts has been influential off the half back averaging 6.3 intercept possessions.

Melbourne will sorely miss dynamic Irish duo in Sinead Goldrick and Niamh McEvoy, with the pair called back home during the week in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, making for a tough ask for the Dees to field a team. Defensively the impact of Daisy Pearce and Libby Birch will prove crucial, with both players averaging 6.2 intercept possessions and sending the footy back forward, settling play in motion with patience. Karen Paxman has been the clear standout for the Demons this season, averaging 21.5 touches (10 contested) and five clearances and doing a wealth of work off the ball to provide that option up the ground. Young gun Tyla Hanks has slot in well and leads the tackle count while Eden Zanker has put an impressive season in the books playing out of her depth as an undersized ruck, but is averaging 11.7 hitouts thanks to her impressive leap and has put a score on the board in all but one match in 2020. Kate Hore has come into her own in front of the big sticks this season, booting the five goals – including a goal of the year contender last round – while her work rate and  run and carry has been phenomenal in season 2020.