We’ve had our appetites whetted by a host of practice games and the Community Series, and now the AFL’s season proper is just days…
Sydney have made the best possible start to their 2023 campaign with a five-point win over GWS giving the Swans a maiden AFLW victory.
Winless in their inaugural season in 2022, the Swans showed a vast improvement to post a 7.9 (51) to 7.4 (46) upset at North Sydney Oval on Sunday.
In front of a sea of red and white, the plucky Swans shot down GWS after the Giants looked home as they picked apart the Swans’ poor ball movement.
“This really hurts tonight,” Giants coach Cam Bernasconi said.
“It’s a game we really wanted to win and we had our opportunities to win it.
“In just crucial moments, we made some poor decisions and opened the door.”
The Giants’ Alyce Parker (22 disposals, 5 clearances) kicked the opening goal after an ill-kicked ball from first-year Swans co-skipper Lucy McEvoy (16 disposals) bounced off teammate Cynthia Hamilton (11) into the hands of Giants midfielder Jess Doyle.
Nicola Barr (12 disposals) brought the Giants their second major on the run with her non-preferred left foot in the opening minutes of the second quarter.
And just when it looked like the Swans could get on terms with a goal from Ally Morphett (one goal, 18 disposals), midfielder Rebecca Beeson (one goal, 13 disposals) provided an instant reply to increase the Giants’ margin.
A third-quarter surge by GWS, thanks to goals by Madison Brazendale (one goal), Georgia Garnett (two) and Haneen Zreika (one), brought the gap to a game-high 25-point lead.
But it was former Collingwood players Aliesha Newman (one goal, 8 disposals) and Chloe Molloy (two goals, 13 disposals) who kept the Swans chances alive, booting one major each in the third stanza.
Rebecca Privitelli (two goals, 13 disposals) and another major by Molloy all but sealed the victory for the Swans.
“That’s the standard for us now. We have to play like that every week,” Privitelli told AAP.
“Coming out here today and winning the first game is a really important step.
“It’s not about just getting the first win. It’s what comes next after this and making sure we keep belief.”
The Giants will no doubt walk away disappointed from the contest, having looked to put away the Swans following comments from coach Scott Gowans.
“(GWS have) got a bit of work to do … we know we’re on the right path and it’s really important for us to realise that we’re not coming up against a side that’s performed really well,” Swans coach Gowans said on Wednesday.
“No disrespect to them but they’re the least performing side in the inaugural clubs. We think we’ll get there quicker than them.”
GWS face an even bigger challenge next weekend, going head-to-head against defending premiers Melbourne at Manuka Oval.
The Swans return to North Sydney Oval to take on Geelong.
Richmond have surged in the final quarter to beat Brisbane, with star recruit Caitlin Greiser’s late goal the difference in a six-point AFLW thriller.
All-Australian forward Greiser, brought in during the off-season from St Kilda, kicked the decisive major with three minutes to play before the Tigers defied the hosts in a mad final minute with the ball deep in the Lions’ forward 50.
Brisbane had an early three-goal buffer before the lead see-sawed in a gripping battle until Richmond prevailed 6.4 (40) to 5.4 (34).
The clash between two of last season’s top-four teams was fierce if not fluent, the intensity slowly lifting and tackle pressure soaring in a tense final term.
With nine minutes left, Brisbane forward Dakota Davidson was bumped after taking a tight mark diving forward and received a 50-metre penalty.
That put her in the goal square and ensured the Lions earned a seven-point lead.
But Tigers skipper Katie Brennan won a marking contest right in front and again levelled the scores with four minutes to play before Greiser’s big moment.
“How good’s this girl? An absolute superstar and she’s slotted seamlessly into our group,” Brennan said of Greiser.
“What a win by our girls today.”
Charlotte Mullins didn’t have to wait long for her first AFLW goal, marking in front and kicking straight to open the Lions’ account in the first quarter of her debut.
Brisbane had three goals before Brennan had the reply, the Tigers captain chipping from 50 metres and watching as the ball bounced truly and dribbled over the line.
Brennan then turned Brisbane defender Phoebe Monahan around with a clever kick, before Monique Conti breezed by and nailed her checkside shot at goal.
And when Emelia Yassir won a free kick and goaled the Tigers had levelled proceedings.
Courtney Jones then joined the party as the Tigers’ fourth goal with 30 seconds until halftime pushing them ahead by six points to cap a dominant term.
Lion Sophie Conway had a shot at goal in the third term which missed to the right, but made up for it minutes later when using the breeze to snap a set shot from the boundary to ties the scores at the final break.
Conti starred with 26 disposals but had to be assisted off the ground late in the fourth quarter after early grabbing at her ankle.
Classy midfielder Jasmine Garner dictated from the first few seconds as her North Melbourne side charged to a comfortable 40-point opening round AFLW opening round win over St Kilda at Hobart’s Blundstone Arena.
The Kangaroos scored the first 37 points of the game and kept Saints scoreless in the first half on their way to recording a 8.8 (56) to 2.4 (16) win.
The Saints came out snarling after halftime but inaccurate kicking meant they only outscored North by nine points to trail by 27 going into the final quarter.
North punished them for their profligacy with the Kangaroos kicking the first three goals of the final quarter.
Five-time All-Australian Garner won the first clearance of the game and within 20 seconds booted a fine goal on the run from 45 metres.
Garner produced a complete midfielder’s game notching an equal game-high figure of 29 possessions and match-best tallies in clearances (11) and metres gained (473).
Ash Riddell also chalked up 29 touches with Emma Kearney and Mia King also did plenty of good work.
North’s Tahlia Randell and Emma King both kicked two goals, though the latter managed just two points from her first three shots.
The amount of defensive work Saints did was highlighted by the fact they had the game’s top two tackers in Nicola Xenos with 11 and Hannah Priest, 10.
North were ahead 21-0 at quarter-time and 36-0 at halftime, as the Saints struggled to fashion scoring opportunities .
Saints finally got on the board six minutes into the third quarter, when Hannah Stuart converted a set shot after being awarded a free kick.
They had the next four shots as well, but missed the opportunity to put more scoreboard pressure on as all of them produced a behind and North regained the ascendancy in the fourth quarter.