Get set for an exciting finish to the inaugural AFL Women’s season

mastermind5991 Roar Guru

By mastermind5991, mastermind5991 is a Roar Guru

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    With one round of the regular season to go before the inaugural AFL Women’s grand final is contested between the Brisbane Lions and a still-to-be-determined team, the battle to become the second finalist and the race to avoid the wooden spoon will go down to the wire this weekend.

    The Lions’ seven-point win over the Western Bulldogs, coupled with the Adelaide Crows’ two-point loss to Melbourne last weekend, confirmed that the club will host the inaugural AFL Women’s grand final next week.

    The Craig Starcevich-coached side were expected to struggle in the inaugural AFL Women’s season but have exceeded expectations in more ways than one, and will almost certainly start favourites to win the inaugural AFLW premiership next Saturday.

    The identity of their opponent, and the venue for the decider both remain unknown, but will become clearer by the end of Round 7.

    Emma Zeilke of the Brisbane Lions celebrates scoring a goal AFLW

    The big talking point out of the Lions making the women’s grand final is where it should be held.

    The Lions are arguing their case for it to be held at the Gabba, while their Queensland neighbours the Gold Coast Suns have pitched a plan for it to be played at Metricon Stadium as a curtain raiser to the men’s QClash, which takes place on the evening of March 25.

    As has been documented in the past week or so, the ground recently hosted a music concert for British singer Adele, but Lions officials are confident that the ground will have recovered in time for the showpiece match.

    Additionally, holding the match at the Gabba would also mean that fans would have to travel down to the Gold Coast if they are to catch the men’s team against the Suns later that day.

    However, one pro in this respect is that with a starting time of 1:00pm, and all match formalities (including the post-match presentation) taking roughly less than three hours, fans can make it to the second match in time, but would have to tackle the traffic en route.

    One strong point in the Suns’ favour is that having the AFLW decider at Metricon Stadium would eliminate the above point of Lions fans having to travel between the two grounds.

    Another is that, as noted above, the Lions’ men’s team play the Suns in the evening, and there is no doubt the club would love to capitalise on this opportunity by having the Lions fans stay around for the main event.

    With the minor premiership locked up, the Lions’ final round clash against Carlton at Ikon Park is a dead rubber, though the Blues will have something to play for as the second grand final berth is decided over the weekend.

    The Blues, as well as the Crows, Demons and Magpies, are the only other clubs in contention to make the decider, though the Crows are in the box seat with the second-best percentage in the competition (159%).

    The Crows had the chance to secure the second berth in the grand final but suffered a costly two-point loss to the Dees in Darwin last week.

    Because of its percentage, all they need to do is beat Collingwood at Olympic Park Oval this weekend and they will qualify for the grand final, irrespective of other results.

    Melbourne is the other club in a strong position to reach the decider; if it beats Fremantle and the Crows lose to the Pies, then they will overtake the Crows on the ladder and therefore be the team that travels north.

    Carlton and Collingwood’s percentages of 114.9 and 92.7 respectively is too much of a gap to make up on both the Crows and Dees, so it’s a fair bet to rule them out of contention.

    Meanwhile, the battle for the wooden spoon will be decided in the Saturday night prime time match between the GWS Giants and Western Bulldogs at the newly named UNSW Canberra Oval.

    Last September, the men’s teams contested what many consider to be one of the greatest preliminary finals in modern history, with the Bulldogs winning by six points en route to breaking their 62-year premiership drought.

    Six months on, their female counterparts will fight it out to avoid the ignominy of becoming the inaugural AFL Women’s wooden spooners.

    Like the men’s team in their infant years, the Giants were expected to struggle in the inaugural AFLW season, but to their credit the injury-hit side have been competitive in at least half of their matches.

    For their efforts, they managed a draw against Fremantle while they were able to score their first win by upsetting competition heavyweights Melbourne in Round 5.

    However, as this is the first official season, the Giants, just like each of the other seven clubs, started on equal footing, unlike the men’s team which started miles behind the other 17 clubs when they entered the AFL (which is played across twenty-three rounds) in 2012.

    Similarly, there was a large gap in experience between the Gold Coast Suns and the other 16 clubs when they entered the competition in 2011.

    Emma Zeilke of the Brisbane Lions (centre) celebrates scoring a goal during their Round 3 AFLW game against Collingwod at the Southpine Sports Complex in Brisbane, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017. (AAP Image/Dan Peled)

    The Western Bulldogs, on the other hand, have lost five matches in a row since defeating Fremantle in Round 1 to drop to the foot of the standings with one round left to play in the inaugural AFLW season.

    Fremantle, who is equal on points with the GWS Giants with the two clubs having contested a draw in Round 3, is the only other team that could finish last, but it has a superior percentage of 76.8 to the Giants’ 54.6.

    The Bulldogs’ percentage is 87.3.

    The Dockers would have to suffer an unlikely record defeat to Melbourne and hope the Giants versus Bulldogs tie ends in a draw if they are to finish last; otherwise, its 16-point win over Carlton at Domain Stadium last week ensured it would avoid the wooden spoon on percentage.

    To finish off, what an exciting time it is to be supporting the inaugural AFL Women’s competition, and may there be many more great seasons and more teams to come in the future.

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    The Crowd Says (8)

    • Roar Guru

      March 16th 2017 @ 3:03pm
      TomC said | March 16th 2017 @ 3:03pm | ! Report

      It’ll be interesting to see if the Lions leave a few key players at home for their trip to Carlton on the weekend. Frederick-Traub, for one. Clearly picked up a knock last week and arguably their most important player.

      • March 16th 2017 @ 6:43pm
        Maggie said | March 16th 2017 @ 6:43pm | ! Report

        That’s an interesting thought. It would be a sensible strategy, possibly Harris as well.

        I am really pleased for the Lions that they are now a guaranteed grand finalist. They most certainly have earned it and it should bring some cheer for AFL supporters in Qld. As a neutral supporter however I am a bit disappointed that the venue will not be Adelaide Oval (as appeared possible a couple of weeks ago). It would have avoided the scheduling issues detailed above plus would have been certain to attract a minimum 25,000 crowd. I hope whatever Qld venue is chosen the women get plenty of support.

        • Roar Guru

          March 16th 2017 @ 7:50pm
          TomC said | March 16th 2017 @ 7:50pm | ! Report

          They might want to leave Harris out because she seems constantly on the edge of knocking someone out and getting suspended.

          It looks like they’ll play the game at the Gabba. Like you, Maggie, I really hope it gets good numbers. I think it should..

          • March 17th 2017 @ 2:13am
            Maggie said | March 17th 2017 @ 2:13am | ! Report

            The other disappointing thing about the scheduling clash is that the Brisbane Lions men’s team won’t be there to support the women. I’m sure they would be if the matches were on separate days. Is there any good reason why the women’s grand final can”t be played at the Gabba on Sunday afternoon?

    • March 16th 2017 @ 8:07pm
      Martin said | March 16th 2017 @ 8:07pm | ! Report

      Just checked the team’s players for this weekend and there’s no changes for the Lionesses, they all must have recovered.

      A Grand Final where the tickets are free, I’d like to see that!

    • March 16th 2017 @ 8:36pm
      SonOfLordy said | March 16th 2017 @ 8:36pm | ! Report

      If it’s good enough for interstate teams in the women’s comp to earn home ground advantage for the Grand Final, then it’s surely good enough for the men. To deny the men’s interstate teams the home field advantage they earned for the biggest game of the year is PURE DISCRIMINATION.

      By playing the final at the Gabba the AFL is implicitly admitting that it’s only fair to give home ground advantage in the Grand Final to the team that earned it!

      The AFL has now set a precedent for the women that now needs to be applied to the men’s game purely in the interests of fairness and equality.

      • Roar Guru

        March 16th 2017 @ 8:43pm
        AdelaideDocker said | March 16th 2017 @ 8:43pm | ! Report

        The first part of that is pure copy & paste from the twilight GF thread. Originality is a concept that SoL hasn’t grasped.

        • March 16th 2017 @ 10:17pm
          mattyb said | March 16th 2017 @ 10:17pm | ! Report

          Totally agree about the GF. It’s a pretty important point and should be mentioned whenever it can be mentioned,,it’s holding the national comp back in the northern states and therefore nationally.

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