Round 3 was always bookmarked as a big one. It is, after all, Pride Round - a round that celebrates the inclusiveness of the league and pays tribute to the trailblazers who made it so.
Thirteen out of the 14 teams donned specially-designed guernseys for the event and fans decked themselves out in the colours of the different flags of the LGBTIQA+ community, creating a sea of rainbow in the stands.
It was also a round of some hotly contested footy under the sweltering Aussie summer sun.
Now, the round isn't quite over yet. Due to more COVID complications and fixture changes, Brisbane will host Carlton on Tuesday evening at Metricon Stadium while a match between Gold Coast and the Western Bulldogs is yet to be confirmed. However, there were a lot of takeaways from the five games played so far.
So, here's what we know, and the lessons learned from the round (so far).
Pride round really is something special
Over the past week, players and fans touted the significance of Pride Round and what it means to them. It's a celebration of and tribute to inclusiveness of the LGBTQIA+ community and a showing that fear and shame isn't needed in this game. Acceptance and joy of diversity were at the forefront of the round and as the games played out, the feeling of pride proved how special and needed it is within the competition - to the players, coaches, staff and the whole AFLW community.
The whole competition was painted with joyous shades of the rainbow, from the 50m arcs on the ground to the countless flags, t-shirts, socks and hats peppered throughout the crowds. Some travelled for the event -- as Erin Phillips noted in a post-match interview that some Crows fans even flew down for the Adelaide match with the giant rainbow flag in tow -- and special guests made also an appearance.
Notably, in a very special moment, former North Melbourne premiership player and coach Dani Laidley tossed the coin before the Roos match against GWS at Arden Street Oval. This was then followed by North and the Giants running out through the same banner which read "an inclusive game for all".
It's an important round for increasing visibility and awareness and celebrating the players and community for being exactly who they are. Plus, it's a lot of meaningful fun.
A low scoreboard doesn't reflect a bad game
A common critique from non-fans of the women's game is that it's low scoring, therefore boring. But despite these views in the contrary, what this round demonstrated is that women's footy doesn't have to be high scoring to be entertaining. In fact, lower scores often mean tougher, hard-fought, tightly contested footy, and with the margins not great, it's always anyone's game.
Which is exactly what we saw on Friday night. Geelong lost to Collingwood at GMHBA Stadium with a scoreboard that read 3.6 (24) to 5.5 (35). From the outset, those numbers don't scream 'the most thrilling game', but they'd be lying. Anyone who watched the game would know it was entertaining to the nth degree.
One reason goals were hard to come by was the evident pressure being applied from both sides - the Cats in particular, whose immense pressure defensively caused numerous Pies turnovers, allowing them to constantly rebound. And both teams laid on an onslaught of tackles which racked up to a total of 134 - the highest count of the round and second-highest of the season.
Don't be fooled, this was an enticing contest.
GWS have a lot of questions that need answering
At halftime against the rampant Kangas, the Giants didn't have a single score on the board. The home side dominated with the ball at Arden Street and kicked a flurry of unanswered goals to claim an unassailable 35-point lead at the main break. And despite lifting in the second half, the Giants went home with an unflattering 27-point defeat.
GWS managed to find some of their groove in the second half -- and kept North scoreless in the final term -- but the overall game left a lot of questions to be answered and demonstrated a lot to work on, including winning the ball, centre clearances and passage of play to the forward line. The match showed that the Giants can't ride on the backs of skipper Alicia Eva, Alyce Parker and new recruit Chloe Dalton alone. The three fought their hardest on the ground and contributed to some solid patches of footy but without the entire team lifting, the job can't be done.
It is fair to assume the heat played a part as both teams sweltered in the 33-degree heat. Yet, even so, there'd be a lot of discussion around gameplay on the plane ride home to Sydney.
St Kilda can't be ruled as an easy win just yet
In the opening two rounds, St Kilda had struggled against more competitive teams. First the up-and-coming Tigers, and then the dominant Magpies. So, ahead of their Round 3 clash with a red-hot Melbourne, most assumed the Demons had it in the bag. Yet at three-quarter time the score was even-stevens.
Then, the Demons stormed home with the aid of a match-winning breeze, kicking a bewildering six goals from 11 scoring shots to secure a 41-point victory.
It was Melbourne's class and depth across the field that secured the game's fate and the last term run home resulted in a blowout scoreboard of 9.10 to 3.5. From looking at these end numbers alone, you could assume it was a four-quarter blowout, yet what it doesn't tell is the three quarters of fiercely contested scrappy football that St Kilda forced on the flag fancies. For the Saints, Tilly Lucas-Rodd was particularly impressive, racking up 22 disposals, while Nicola Xenos back in the squad proved a welcomed sight for the Saints' sore eyes.
In the end, the scoreboard, although looking like a blowout, doesn't accurately reflect the tussle that was the game. And it's safe to say, if the more inexperienced Saints can hold Melbourne off while bagging a few goals themselves for three quarters of a game, they're not out of the competition just yet. They may be heading down the ladder after three early losses, but opponents shouldn't go into games thinking they'll be an easy win.
There's a lot of gutsy good footy being played by this side.
BOG were the North Melbourne mascots
The heat took its toll across the round, and many were forgiven for clapping from their seats rather than getting up to cheer as the sun belted down. However, two that remained true to their cause, no matter the temperature, were those inside the big Kangaroo mascot suits at Arden Street on Sunday afternoon.
We're talking about a blistering 33-degree heat in those getups. Fair to say no one was hotter than those two. Best of ground. 10/10 performance.