Only two rounds are left and the finals spots in AFLW are still up for grabs, giving the conference system some sort of tick.
Every match will have an impact on the ladder, and one minor slip can be catastrophic at this stage of the season. Instead of looking at what last round taught us, it’s time to look at what the upcoming round can teach us.
Are the Cats the real deal?
Having explored Geelong a couple of weeks ago as a potential threat in Conference B, the Cats established themselves as the top team in the group with a crushing win against Brisbane away from home.
Basing their game around defence, the Cats have produced such a different style of play to everyone else in the league. It is working well in their favour.
With the equal-least points conceded for the season, Geelong has been blessed with two of the league’s best interceptors of 2019, Meghan McDonald (ranked first) and Madaleine McMahon (ranked seventh) as well, keeping its structure strong enough to withstand any pressure.
It makes this match with Fremantle extraordinarily compelling. The Dockers have been one of the best attacking teams this season, losing just one game.
They are fighting for a top two position in Conference A given how tight that group is, and will no doubt come out as aggressively as possible to make a statement.
This gives AFLW fans a chance to properly rate the Cats – a win at home against a strong attacking force would cement first place for the club and a potential advantage in finals.
The defence-first mentality has had good success in the last fortnight and meant the absence of a couple of key players hasn’t been felt as much.
Let’s see how they fare against an attacking machine.
Will Erin Phillips end the AFLW MVP race?
Some will say Karen Paxman, some may say Jess Duffin. Madison Prespakis could get a mention and Kiara Bowers can certainly stake some sort of claim.
The AFLW MVP race could be over this week when the Crows take on the disappointing Giants however, with Erin Phillips a strong chance to put together another masterful, best-on-ground performance.
After struggling with injury last season, the first-ever AFLW MVP has been simply sensational in 2019 and has continued to improve as the season has gone on.
Phillips is ranked fourth in disposals, first in metres gained, first in contested possessions, third in clearances, second in goals and first in score involvements.
Fans already knew that Phillips was the best player in the competition if fully fit, and the business-end of the season is certainly where she does some of her best work. If Adelaide’s star is one of the best players on the ground against the Giants, the MVP race is over.
Can the Blues create magic?
Carlton and Brisbane will play in the final game of the round at Ikon Park in what may be the weekend’s most important game.
The two teams are seemingly fighting for the second spot in Conference B, and the winner of this clash certainly takes a strong advantage heading into the final round.
All pressure will be on the hosts, however, given Brisbane has a Round 7 match-up against Collingwood up its sleeve.
The Blues making the finals would be a shock – despite having some solid names, not many could expect a rise into the top two of Conference B given historical performances.
Madison Prespakis has truly had a wonderful season, while Bri Davey’s form has improved as the season has gone on in her return from injury. Brisbane will be fuming after their shocking loss to Geelong last week and will look to put Carlton to the sword on Sunday afternoon.
For all intents and purposes, this is Carlton’s final. A lot of pressure will be on the aforementioned duo, as well as Vescio and Harris to perform as the star players on the team, but look out for Kerryn Harrington, who could continue her breakout season and produce a match-winning performance.
Records may break at Marvel Stadium
Round 4 2018 saw the Bulldogs score 12.14 (86) in a 73-point drubbing of Carlton, which accurately reflected the season of both clubs.
This weekend, we see Collingwood host North Melbourne in perfect conditions. The Magpies have been terrible this season, and while there have been a couple of positive signs individually (hello Ash Brazill), 2019 has seen a huge step back in the development of the club.
Playing against an attacking powerhouse, who needs to win well to help secure its spot in the top two, at the driest stadium going around is just about the worst possible result for the Magpies, particularly at this stage of the season.
It will be well worth following the game on Saturday afternoon for all the wrong reasons. North Melbourne showed its attacking ability in the first couple of games this season, while the Magpies have conceded an average of over 12 scoring shots per game.
Given North Melbourne has generally been an accurate team in front of goal this season, it could be an ugly, ugly game for Collingwood.
A big win for North Melbourne helps the club boost its percentage, which could be extremely important heading into the final round. It could be time to get the record books out.