With four news sides entering the 2020 season, there’s no denying that they brought a new sense of competition, ferocity and hunger to the game. From spectacular goals, impressive team feats and doing the unthinkable, here’s how the four new sides fared in 2020.
GOLD COAST SUNS
Finishing fourth on the Conference A ladder, the Gold Coast Suns were a powerhouse in the making in their first AFLW season.
Amassing two wins and the only draw in the 2020 season, the Suns were a shining light on field. They booted 23 goals and were leaders amongst the new sides in the competition.
Laying an average of 60.1 tackles each game, the Suns were a team who quickly emerged as a ferocious side who liked to attack the ball, demolishing anyone who got in their way.
Their stand-outs in 2020 included Kalinda Howarth, who was a bull in front of goal, as well as football-magnet Kate Surman, who was a worry for opponents at every contest.
With a 25-point win over the Eagles, the Suns cemented themselves as the strongest expansion team for 2020, this being the second win in their books by Round 6. Howarth booted an impressive four majors on the day, Surman collected a neat 20 disposals and the Suns well and truly kept those finals hopes alive before the short end to the season.
ST KILDA SAINTS
The girls from Moorabbin came marching into the competition with one of the youngest lists, nevertheless coming home with two impressive wins to kick-start an exciting return to their spiritual home.
The likes of young guns Georgia Patrikios and Caitlin Greiser set the mark for the emerging Saints, both nominated as NAB AFLW Rising Stars throughout the shortened season.
St Kilda laid an average of 56.8 tackles per game, ranking them above the average side of the competition. The brute strength of in-and-under player Rosie Dillon can be attested to the ferocity from these women in 2020.
Overall, producing one of the youngest lists in the competition, managing multiple injuries (Tarni White and Kate McCarthy just some of those key stars), Peta Searle’s girls ignited the Saints’ faithful in a new way. Their football, innovative and fast-paced, improved every week, even almost knocking off the undefeated Fremantle!
The Saints’ best win was arguably their first in their history of the AFLW, when they defeated the Demons by a mere five points. In front of a massive crowd jammed into Moorabbin, the girls stormed home in style, holding off the more-experienced Melbourne. Let’s not forget the magnificent game-winning goal from young gun Caitlin ‘G-Train’ Greiser, who sealed their victory with a long bomb from outside 50. Liv Vesely also collected 16 touches, while Rosie Dillon and Nat Exon laid seven tackles each. The song was sung with great pride and Linton Street was alive once more!
WEST COAST EAGLES
The girls from the west were great contributors in 2020, with one win under their belt and quick improvement as the games rolled on.
Laying an average of 58.7 tackles weekly, the Eagles were well above the mark and proved that even as a new side, they could bring the pressure and worry opposition into turn overs consistently.
They kicked just 11 goals in 2020, but the Eagles should be proud of their ability to fit in to such a high-class, high-level competition and continually produce entertaining and competitive footy weekly.
Their one and only win of 2020 came when they defeated the Western Bulldogs by four points at Leederville Oval. Led by 22 disposals from Emma Swanson, the Eagles held off the more experienced Bulldogs, showing grit to push through for their first-ever win. Swanson also contributed with a goal to add to her side’s four, notching up Best on Ground honours.
It was a whirlwind start for the Richmond girls who, although winless in 2020, rapidly improved as the season progressed.
Monique Conti was an absolute star for her side after coming across from the Bulldogs to play her role for this new group of women. Her stand-out game was against Geelong, where she collected a massive 28 disposals for her side who just fell short in the end.
They laid an average of 58 tackles (above the average), and booted 14 majors for 2020, with seven of those coming against Geelong.
The pick-up of Sabrina Frederick-Traub from Brisbane assisted the Tigers up forward as she presented as a key target who created numerous plays for their little forwards throughout the season.
Overall, it was tough to see the Tigers without a win in the competition but, with the success of their men’s side, Richmond are well and truly building a fortress of triumph for the future, with the winning culture embedded in the walls of Punt Road.
Although the Tigers were left winless in their shortened 2020 season, their stand-out performance came against the Geelong Cats when they met in Bendigo. After succumbing to Geelong in the second quarter and trailing by four majors, the Tigers turned on the heat and booted three goals in the third term and kept the Cats on their toes. With seven goals kicked in total, the Tigers shone and showed why you shouldn’t count them out for 2021.