Some ambiguity has appeared in the middle to upper reaches of the ladder after a couple of upset wins, making future points all the more valuable for the second half of the season.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“We came out and really put it to ‘em!” Shades of Teddy Whitten from the Collingwood Magpies’ Chloe Molloy after her side bullied the North Melbourne-Tasmania Kangaroos to remain behind ladder leaders the Fremantle Dockers on percentage only.
THE BIG ISSUE
The Carlton Blues’ Maddy Prespakis’s tackle/impression of ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper off the top rope was deemed to have been careless and of a high enough impact upon Richmond Tigers’ Sarah Hosking to warrant a week on the sidelines. While Prespakis is probably sitting behind the likes of Kiara Bowers and Ellie Blackburn in the race toward the AFLW’s best and fairest award, she would still be expected to poll well, especially over the past two games. The Blues have decided to appeal the verdict, with plenty on the line depending on the outcome. Lose and not only will the reigning best player be out of the race for a second gong, but her side will be without its best midfielder against a smarting Kangaroos side in Launceston.
Cases could be made for half a dozen sides’ players this week after what was a very entertaining round, but how can you go past a pair of four-goal hauls from two of the game’s most exceptional veterans?
The GWS Giants’ powerful Irish forward, Cora ‘Scora’ Staunton put on a performance to make the eyes smile in their solid 20-point win over the West Coast Eagles. Staunton kicked a couple of goals seemingly out of nowhere, including one to savour off a quick pivot under pressure onto her non-preferred left foot. The County Mayo multi-code marvel turns 40 at the end of the year, but is playing herself into the type of form that rivals her best football from 2019.
It almost seems silly to apply the “veteran” tag to Adelaide’s Erin Phillips; the 35-year-old shows absolutely no signs of slowing down in her fifth season in the AFLW and 20th of playing professional sport. After her whole team looked decidedly out of sorts against Fremantle in Round 3, the Crows faced a tough road trip to Hickey Park to take on the high-flying Brisbane Lions. What followed was one of the best individual performances seen in recent times, as Phillips proved to be the difference with four of the Crows’ six goals from her 21 disposals, eight marks and two tackles.
What makes these feats all the more impressive is that both players have endured career-threatening injuries (a badly broken leg for Staunton and an ACL rupture for Phillips) in the past couple of years, yet clearly neither could bare the thought of leaving anything out on the field; truly tempered resilience borne out of adversity.
Only one side failed to score a goal in Round 4...and despite their lowly total of six points, that team was not the Gold Coast Suns, but would-be premiership contenders North Melbourne-Tasmania.
If this was a more extensive season, perhaps even two or three games longer, the Roos could be favoured – expected even – to put this performance behind them as a one-off nightmare. However, tacked onto a narrow loss in the last round and now sitting one game outside of the top six, the reality of the situation is much more precarious. The fact that they could potentially still play five teams at or above their level on the ladder given the fluid logistics of the fixture should have the club scrambling to rectify the shortcomings of Saturday night’s debacle in Docklands.
While not every side has the list to emulate the Magpies’ heroics, upcoming opponents Carlton certainly do and for now at least, the league’s most intimidating side on paper looks decidedly vulnerable.
We cross over the halfway point of the season with some spread around the middle of the pack, malaise at the bottom and only two perfect sides remaining. Four sides desperate for wins will go head to head as the Geelong Cats host Richmond and West Coast welcome Gold Coast to WA, the first two of these sides have shown real growth in recent games and the Tigers are particularly unlucky to not yet have a win to their name.
Collingwood’s clash with the Melbourne Demons at Victoria Park and Fremantle’s with Brisbane at Fremantle Oval should provide great contests with the away sides keen to make amends for their first losses in 2021, though the home sides should go in as fairly handy favourites.