It's been hard to talk about a single round this season in its entirety with games postponed and rescheduled due to COVID-19 complications. Yet none more so than Round 7 (and what will be 8), as they feature 16 matches across two rounds.
In this festival of footy, Brisbane, Gold Coast, GWS, Western Bulldogs and St Kilda all play three matches across the two weeks as fans struggle to keep up and the ladder becomes a constantly moving beast.
This weekend of AFLW kicked off on Thursday night with the postponed Q Clash between Brisbane and Gold Coast. Here, the reigning premiers broke the record for the highest score in their club history, with an overwhelming 69-point victory. Then, the Lions bookend the round with a match on Monday night against the Melbourne Demons, in what should be a showdown of depth and dominance.
Yet there are lessons in the chaos. Ash Woodland took her goal tally to 14, just two shy of the single-season record. Following her is Katie Brennan and Tayla Harris, both on 11. St Kilda remains the only winless side, registering just two points against Carlton, and West Coast had the home ground advantage over Richmond but couldn't get the job done. And yes, kicking accuracy was once again a problem across the board. Now, without any more delay, here are some of the biggest lessons learnt from Round 7...
Bulldogs prove they have bite in their bark
Last week, the Bulldogs provided the upset of the season when they flew to Adelaide and beat the then-unbeatable Crows in a one-point thriller. This week, they proved it wasn't a fluke by getting their third back-to-back victory, this time against the up-and-coming Cats.
It was a bit of a scrap, but the young pups' ball use, defensive structure and midfield strength won in the end. Bonnie Toogood proved dangerous once again as a key forward, registering two goals, while Kirsty Lamb and Ellie Blackburn helped to control the ball in the midfield. They won more contested and uncontested possessions than their opponents, which demonstrated their ability to work as a team, getting the ball up the ground.
They've had a disrupted season so far, with injuries, including Izzy Huntington's ACL in the opening round, and COVID sweeping through the team and causing fixture chaos. Yet, in nabbing their third consecutive win, they've put the other teams on notice: they may be young but they've got bite.
Giants are in need of some goals
GWS narrowly avoided the unwanted record of not registering a single point in an AFLW game last week when young Jess Doyle kicked a goal in the closing minutes of the game against Melbourne. This week, they didn't register a major against Adelaide.
A big difference when it came to goalscoring (or lack of goalscoring) in this game, was opportunities inside 50. The Crows created opportunities for their forwards through their marking ability and work around the grounds. This was while the Giants lost more of the one-on-ones and took only two marks inside their inside 50, meaning they lacked avenues to goals. Adelaide had 22 shots on goal from 35 inside 50s, while GWS only had seven shots from 18 inside 50s.
Again, kicking inaccuracy was a big issue. To the Giants reprieve, Adelaide booted a staggering 5.15. If they had kicked closer to target, it could have been a much nastier blowout.
Ebony Marinoff is the first AFLW player to reach 1,000 disposals
Adelaide's hard-working midfield mainstay Ebony Marinoff added a new line to her already-impressive footballing resume by becoming the first AFLW player to reach 1,000 disposals. The two-time premiership player also has two All Australian honours to her name, a NAB Rising Star award from the inaugural AFLW season and claimed her club's AFLW Best and Fairest award last season.
In her career, the 24-year-old has averaged 21 disposals and 8.5 tackles across her 48 games. Against the Giants this weekend, she had 22 disposals and a whopping 16 tackles - so, only seems to be ramping up.
A new (one-sided) chapter is written in the North Melbourne-Collingwood rivalry
A rivalry has been brewing in AFLW history between North Melbourne and Collingwood, spurred on by them meeting in close finals in the last two seasons and having shared some players over the years. Notably, Kangaroos' Jasmine Garner and Emma King used to wear the white and black.
This gave even more meaning to the anticipated match between the sides this round, who've been hanging out in the top end of the ladder this season. Many were calling it the potential game of the season and had it pegged as a close one.
Yet the latest chapter in the rivalry books was a tad one-sided. You'd expect both teams to come hungry for a win over the other, with a bit of extra fire under their feet. But it was only the Kangaroos that appeared ready for battle.
Garner had a cracker of a game with 26 disposals, six marks and three goals, while midfielder Ash Riddell and captain Emma Kearney registered 29 and 24, respectively. In comparison, Collingwood star and game-changer Chloe Molloy only got hands on the ball six times.
North ended up with a 23-point victory, kicking 6.2 to Collingwood's 2.3, and increased their chances of a top four spot by finals time. Collingwood, on the other hand, are only one loss away from falling out of the top six.
Carlton's season isn't over yet
Unfortunately, Nick Dal Santo's side hasn't registered a single win this season after banking another loss over the weekend. Their sixth straight defeat was to Carlton's fortune, however, as the Blues breathed new life into their somewhat disappointing 2022 campaign and got the result they'd been waiting for: a win.
Important contributors were Mimi Hill, who continued her stellar form since returning from injury two weeks ago with 18 disposals, while reliable Georgie Gee and Maddy Prespakis both registered 20 disposals each. Darcy Vescio bagged two goals and was back getting the home crowd on their feet, joint by Breann Moody who also booted two majors.
For Carlton fans, let's hope it spurs some momentum in the stumbling side. Especially as the victory took the team to 10th on the ladder, within sniffing distance of the top 6 as the finals almost come within sight.