2022 AFL Women’s season: Round 7 preview

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Western Australia’s ongoing border restrictions has created an unusual round this weekend, with three teams to play two matches this weekend, while Fremantle will have a bye.

The Brisbane Lions, Gold Coast Suns and Western Bulldogs will each play two matches over the weekend, with the rescheduled QClash kicking off the round tomorrow night and the latter two teams to play each other at Metricon Stadium at the end of the round.

The Geelong Cats are also scheduled to play a second match in the round; after facing the Bulldogs on Friday night, their match against Fremantle at Kardinia Park has been earmarked with a TBC, which suggests that it will be played later in the season.

This will leave the Dockers to enjoy a bye this weekend; this means that reigning best-and-fairest Kiara Bowers, whose two-match suspension has expired, will have to wait another week before she makes her on-field return against the Adelaide Crows in Round 8.

Among the matches of the round, we’ll see the rescheduled QClash which promises intrigue as the reigning premiers the Lions come up against the much-improved Suns, while we’ll see a wooden spoon battle between Carlton and St Kilda on Saturday afternoon.

For a period of 11 days starting this Thursday, there will be nine days on which matches are played, with Round 7 to be played across six days before Round 8 begins with the rescheduled clash between the GWS Giants and St Kilda next Wednesday.

In that period, there will be no matches on either next Thursday or Friday (24th and 25th, respectively).

Here is your preview of Round 7.

Brisbane Lions vs Gold Coast Suns
Despite a five-point victory over St Kilda, Brisbane Lions coach Craig Starcevich will not have been happy with the way his side played last Sunday.

From 16 scoring shots – ten more than what the Saints had – the reigning premiers could only manage three majors, and went 11 consecutive misses before finally kicking their first major – through debutant Luka Yoshida-Martin – halfway through the third quarter.

Now, having survived a major scare against the likely wooden spooners, they will need to be on their A-game against last year’s worst-performed team, the Suns, who have shown considerable improvement in their third season.

The Suns made it three wins from their last four matches by defeating the Geelong Cats by 11 points, racking up their highest ever score (7.7 (49)) and making this season their most successful in their short history in the process.

They had trailed at quarter-time, but thanks to the efforts of Alison Drennan (30 disposals) and Tori Groves-Little (two goals), they also ensured they remained in contention for the unlikeliest of AFLW finals berths.

Just how far the Suns have come since their humiliating QClash loss to the Lions last year – where they lost by 63 points and booted only two points for the entire match – remains to be seen when they welcome the reigning premiers to Metricon Stadium on Thursday night.

Both sides will have to back up by the start of next week, as the Lions then face fellow premiership contenders Melbourne on Monday night, followed 24 hours later by the Suns tackling the Western Bulldogs, with both matches to be played on the Gold Coast.

As much as the ladies from the holiday strip would love to spring another surprise, the Lions’ class should prove to be the difference.

Prediction: Brisbane Lions by 25 points.

Geelong Cats vs Western Bulldogs
Fresh off upsetting the previously undefeated Adelaide Crows by a solitary point on the road last Sunday afternoon, the Western Bulldogs will look to continue their run of form when they travel down the highway to face the Geelong Cats at Kardinia Park on Friday night.

Not many rated the Doggies a chance of even being competitive against the Crows, especially after they’d lost the corresponding match by 56 points last year, but despite being two players down after quarter-time and leading by 24 at the half, hung on for a famous victory.

(Photo by Sarah Reed/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

In scenes reminiscent of the famous ‘Super-Flood’ match in which the men’s team famously brought an end to Essendon’s 20-match winning streak back in 2000, the Dogs flooded the Crows’ forward 50 at the death, forcing stoppage after stoppage to end the Crows’ winning run.

That will mean nothing if they cannot back it up against the Geelong Cats, who despite winning only one match so far this season have shown considerable improvement in their performances this season.

Two goals each from Phoebe McWilliams and Chloe Scheer were not enough to get them a second win, their efforts being in vain as they went down to the Gold Coast Suns by 11 points after they had trailed by 24 points at the last change of ends.

That followed their three-point win over the West Coast Eagles in which Darcy Moloney booted the match-winning goal with a minute remaining.

With only three wins between them, there is nothing but pride on the line, and for the Bulldogs, they’ll want to recover quickly because they’ll have only three full days to rest before they fly up to the holiday strip for their rescheduled clash against the Gold Coast Suns.

Prediction: Western Bulldogs by 11 points.

GWS Giants vs Adelaide Crows
Just how badly the GWS Giants are going compared with the rest of the competition was laid bare for all to see as they lost to Melbourne by 37 points last Saturday, failing to score even a point in the first three quarters.

It was the second time in five matches that they had gone scoreless to halftime, also being kept to a donut at the main change of ends in its Round 3 loss against North Melbourne at Arden Street Oval.

Nicola Barr of the Giants

(Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)

Only a goal at the death to Jessica Doyle saved them from the ultimate embarrassment of going goalless, but their performance was already bad enough that they could only muster a grand total of 1.1 (7), beating their previous lowest score of 1.3 (9) which they had managed twice.

Alyce Parker was the only player who could hold her head up high, racking up 23 disposals.

It will not get any easier for the Giants who must now face an Adelaide Crows side smarting from their shock one-point loss to the Western Bulldogs, which put an end to their undefeated start to the season at five matches.

Matthew Clarke’s side were left to play catch-up from the get-go, coughing up the first goal inside 60 seconds and trailing by four goals at halftime, but despite the best efforts of Erin Phillips, who had a shot at goal to win the match for her side at the death, there were simply too many passengers, according to the coach.

It was also the Bulldogs that, in retrospect, prevented the Crows from achieving an undefeated 2019 campaign when they lost to the daughters of the west in the first round of that season.

It stands to be another ugly afternoon for the Giants, who must then back up four days later for their rescheduled match against St Kilda, which will be played at Blacktown next Wednesday (February 23).

On that note, the Crows should show no mercy as they continue their march towards a third flag in six years.

Prediction: Adelaide Crows by 30 points.

Carlton vs St Kilda
Widely expected to be up there among the flag contenders this season, Carlton have instead struggled, winning only one match up to Round 7, ahead of Saturday’s wooden spoon showdown against St Kilda.

Their 42-point loss to Fremantle in the west, in which they had to fly in and out of the Western Australian capital, leaves them sitting only above the Saints on the ladder with a percentage of 45.5 – the worst in the competition.

They had actually led by two points at quarter-time, with Darcy Vescio booting their only major for the match, and only trailed by four at the half, but failed to kick another major thereafter as they fell to yet another loss by more than five goals.

Darcy Vescio of the Blues celebrates with fans

Darcy Vescio (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Perhaps the clash against St Kilda, who have not yet won a match this season as the absence of Georgia Patrikios continues to tell the tale, could provide Daniel Harford’s men with the perfect chance to hit back and move clear in the battle for the wooden spoon.

Despite their recent struggles, the Saints last week took it right up to the Brisbane Lions, booting the first two goals and keeping the Lions goalless until halfway through the third quarter, before ultimately going down by just five points.

But if they are to break their season duck against the Blues, they’ll have to do it without Tarni White, who has copped a one-match suspension for rough conduct on Lion Sophie Conway.

Despite her impending absence, the Saints’ recent good performances should see them finally rewarded with a win against the struggling Blues on Saturday afternoon.

Prediction: St Kilda by eight points.

West Coast Eagles vs Richmond
Richmond are next to take on the hit-and-run trip to Perth when they make the trip west for their clash against fellow 2020 entrants the West Coast Eagles at Mineral Resources Park on Saturday afternoon (WA time).

The Tigers have not been able to take a trick with injuries this season, losing four players to season-ending injuries in the first half of the season, including Harriet Cordner and Hannah Burchell to long-term knee injuries.

Richmond players celebrate.

(Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

Monique Conti has had to carry the load for her side this season, especially after her best-on-ground performance against St Kilda in Round 1 led 2016 Brownlow Medallist Patrick Dangerfield to suggest that she could win the competition’s best-and-fairest award if they win enough games.

The fact that the Tigers have not won since Round 1 will indeed impede her chances of taking out the game’s highest individual honour, though there will be more chances for the yellow and black to win more games before the season is out.

Their next chance at a victory comes against fellow strugglers the West Coast Eagles, who have also only won one game this season (also against St Kilda a few rounds ago) but are relishing being at home after a month in a Victorian hub.

In challenging conditions, captain Emma Swanson and Dana Hooker combined for 40 disposals but their efforts were not enough to prevent a 24-point defeat to Collingwood last Sunday.

It is their poor starts to matches that remains a concern for coach Michael Prior, with this being the fifth time in six matches that they’ve been held goalless in the opening quarter, failing to even score in three of those.

They will surely not want to waste their best chance of a victory when they face Richmond, with this coming a week before the reigning premiers, the Brisbane Lions, come to town next week.

Prediction: West Coast Eagles by two points.

North Melbourne vs Collingwood
The only match scheduled for this Sunday sees North Melbourne play in front of their Tasmanian supporters for the second time this season when they face a Collingwood side which is on the road for a second straight week.

The Roos continue to show why they are the side most likely to challenge the Adelaide Crows for the flag, putting injury-ravaged Richmond to the sword by way of a 19-point win at Punt Road Oval last Saturday.

They were held on a leash by the Tigers for the majority of the contest but eventually pulled away late in the third quarter, before being held goalless in the last.

Again, it was the usual suspects – Ash Riddell, Emma Kearney and Jasmine Garner who were integral to victory, collecting over 70 disposals between them in another impressive team performance.

Collingwood, meantime, rebounded from two disappointing losses to Fremantle and the Brisbane Lions by defeating the West Coast Eagles by four goals on the road, with Chloe Molloy among their best after being deployed to the centre following injuries to other key players.

Four goals before three-quarter-time gave them a lead of 31 points at the final change, ensuring they couldn’t be caught by the struggling Eagles in the last quarter; still, they were outscored by two goals to one, thus settling for a final margin of 24 points.

They now have to travel for a third consecutive weekend to take on the Kangaroos in their Tasmanian backyard, and at the rate in which the Roos are dominating I just can’t see them being beaten this Sunday.

Prediction: North Melbourne by 18 points.

Brisbane Lions vs Melbourne
Following their QClash the previous Thursday night, the Lions will have to back up on Monday night for a heavyweight clash against Melbourne, who like North Melbourne are very serious contenders for the AFLW premiership.

The Dees flexed their premiership muscle against the GWS Giants last Saturday afternoon, mastering the windy conditions and keeping their opponents scoreless to three-quarter-time before going on to win by 37 points and record their 11th straight win at their Casey Fields fortress.

They had actually led by 44 points with over three minutes to go, but could not prevent the Giants from kicking a consolation goal at the death.

Among their best was Eliza West and Tayla Harris, who has now booted 11 goals for her new side after crossing from Carlton at the end of last season and will be fired up more than most when she faces her old side at Metricon Stadium on Monday night.

Tayla Harris

Tayla Harris with her new Demons teammates. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Having disposed of one of the lightweights of the competition, the Dees will need to more than just bring their A-game to the Gold Coast if they are to take down one of the heavyweights in the Lions, who despite being ravaged by injuries remain on track in their title defence.

Prediction: Brisbane Lions by six points.

Gold Coast Suns vs Western Bulldogs
Round 7 concludes on Tuesday night, with the Gold Coast Suns and Western Bulldogs both playing a second match in the round following their respective matches against the Brisbane Lions and Geelong Cats earlier in the round.

The Suns will have the longer turnaround by 24 hours, though they will have played strong opposition in the Lions while the Bulldogs will fly north four days after facing the Cats, who have only won one game so far this season, at Kardinia Park.

I think the short turnaround should favour the Suns, who have so far defied all expectations of them this year by winning three games – half a game more than they did in their previous best campaign of 2020 (two-and-a-half wins).

Prediction: Gold Coast Suns by four points.

Bye: Fremantle

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