Only a week to go before the cream of the crop extend their seasons and the rest are left to lick their wounds and wonder 'What if?' Here are the main stories causing conversation in the AFLW.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“There she is right now, giving a thumbs up...I’m talking about you, Doc!” Perfect timing mid-presser saw St Kilda Saints coach Peta Searle waxing lyrical about the seasonal performance of young gun Georgia Patrikios just as the superstar walked behind the assorted cameras and journalists on Victoria Park. Two thumbs up would be an appropriate response to the 29-disposal, nine clearance and six inside-50 game by Patrikios.
THE BIG ISSUE
Bowers gets off, remains in the W Award race.
Kiara ‘Turbo’ Bowers is still a hot favourite to take out the league’s best and fairest player of the year title after her initial one-match ban for a dangerous tackle was overturned on appeal by the tribunal earlier this week. The tackle, which left the Melbourne Demons’ high flying Eden Zanker with an injured neck requiring ongoing physio attention, was not dissimilar to an incident between the Carlton Blues’ reigning league champion, Maddy Prespakis and former teammate, the Richmond Tigers’ Sarah Hosking.
Prespakis infamously copped a suspension for her offence, which rubbed her out of the prospect of defending her status as the AFLW’s best of the best.
While Fremantle Dockers fans are cheering and few outside the club would wish to deny Bowers the acknowledgement of an outstandingly prolific and consistent year, a chorus of confusion rang from voices of many key players within footy. The league relies on consistency to buttress its application of rules and enforcement of punishments for transgressions thereof; when notable industry people like Daisy Pearce, Gerard Whateley and Paul Haselby are vocal in their concerns, surely there is a gap in reasonable expectations and results.
Carlton came from three goals behind to wallop the Gold Coast Suns up north, registering a new all-time record score of 87 points, thanks largely to AFLW icon Darcy Vescio’s five goal haul. They did so by scoring 13 total majors (achieved for just the second time ever – Adelaide Crows did it for the first time back in Round 6) to four and in doing so kept their flickering hopes of a finals berth alive.
Scoring has been a distinct highlight in many games this season; one of the more common criticisms from the cheap seats is that a weakness of the women’s game is that it fails to turn its contests into enough scoring opportunities. It’s largely a facile argument at the best of times, but on the flip side it has been an added delight for fans of most of the top teams.
Despite its rollicking display in Queensland, Carlton’s hopes to challenge for silverware in 2021 remain on a knife-edge thanks to inconsistent form throughout the duration of the season. Also on the edge are the Western Bulldogs, who burst out of the blocks after a small hiccup in Round 1 and now look to have run out of tricks, as young sides are want to do.
Both teams require divine intervention if they are to play finals – the sixth-placed North Melbourne-Tasmania Kangaroos sit above both with a win in hand and the Roos would need to drop their last clash against Fremantle to hand the dice over to our under pressure duo.
Of course games for the Blues and Bulldogs are potentially huge, prior to that the game between the Dockers (with Bowers) and the Kangaroos (with almost every one of their stars) looms as a must watch for fans of all six sides – not to mention neutral fans.
In fact there are few if any uninteresting or uneven games to finish off the home and away fixture – all competing sides are in with a reasonable shout on paper and none of the prospective finalists are assured of their places in the pecking order.
Do yourself a favour and watch a game or two before the long wait for 2022 begins for eight sides.