What we learned in Round 8: We can all take something away from Indigenous Round

Round 8, Indigenous Round, acknowledged the traditional owners of the land the ground is played on and recognised the contribution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Australian football community.

It was also a crucial one for many teams as the race home to finals has begun, while history was made across the board.

Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne and Collingwood all nabbed wins and helped their top 6 standings, whereas Western Bulldogs and the Suns are now two wins away from a finals spot after conceding losses.

ACT hosted its first AFLW game of the year when the Giants played Carlton at Manuka Oval in Canberra; Carlton secured their first back-to-back wins of the season, while once again the wind at Casey Fields impacted play.

There was a lot going on this round. So, let's get straight to it: here are five standout lessons we learned from the significant, intense and action-packed weekend.


We can all learn from Indigenous Round

As well as Indigenous Round being an important and significant acknowledgement of country and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples within the community, it's also a time of education and sharing of culture.

All fourteen clubs had specifically designed guernseys -- with all on display except Carlton who weren't allowed to wear them due to a supposed clash with the Giants' kit -- each with a unique intention and story behind them. For example, Geelong's were designed by Wadawurrung woman Corrina Eccles and featured the word 'Djilang', the Wadawurrung word for Geelong. Collingwood's was designed by Yorta Yorta and Gunnai man Dixon Patten and included soaring Magpies flying onwards and upwards to new heights. And St Kilda's by club legend Nicky Winmar, which featured a silhouette of his 'I'm Black and I'm proud' iconic pose from 1993.

There was also a wealth of special boots on display, including for the Crows players designed by Kira and Codi Buckskin, two young Narungga women and artists. Traditional gifts were also exchanged. For instance, Melbourne presented North Melbourne before their clash with a Marngrook, meaning 'game ball' in the language of the Gunditjmara people.

Across the round, moments of recognition and celebration were conducted, and the AFLW proved once again how it can be a place of learning and commemorating Indigenous culture, people and history.

Anne Hatchard and Ebony Marinoff are a lethal pair

In the then-top of the table clash on Saturday afternoon, Adelaide beat Fremantle by 9 points in a strongly contested, high-pressure, end-to-end contest. It was a game teeming with intensity, and despite low scores, showcased the high-quality skills between two of the season's consistent top sides.

One duo that was instrumental in the Crows win was Anna Hatchard and Ebony Marinoff, who are both dangerous on their own, but absolutely lethal in tandem. Their combined 15 forward entries helped Adelaide claim territory and lock the ball in their forward half. They also had 61 disposals between them, 37 kicks, 24 hitouts and 9 tackles. So, not too shabby.

Credit also needs to go to Danielle Ponter, who booted two goals and showcased her fierce attacking ability in the forward line.

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There'll be no winless clubs this season

Last season, the Gold Coast Suns ended bottom of the ladder without a win to their name. The year before, it was Richmond who didn't register a single victory in the first COVID-disrupted season of 2020.

This year, however, it won't go three for three seasons with a club having nothing but losses as St Kilda registered their first win for the year in a down-to-the-wire contest against the Gold Coast Suns. The end score 5.4 (34) to 4.7 (31).

Notable in getting the team over the line was Tilly Lucas-Rodd (21 disposals, 12 kicks and 9 tackles), Tarni White (13 disposals, 9 marks and 7 tackles), Bianca Jakobsson (18 disposals and 14 kicks), and the ever-hard-working Nicola Xenos, who snagged one major and displayed immense pressure around the contest. And it was pure joy that radiated from Nick Dal Santo's team as the siren sounded and the team in red, white and black got to sing their song for the first time in 336 days.

Although the Suns' Tara Bohanna almost changed the game's fate with three goals -- while teammate Sarah Perkins kicked one earlier in the game and shanked another in the closing minutes of the game, denying her team the glory -- Gold Coast aren't entirely out of finals contention with the loss just yet, but will need to win the next two and rely on other teams' percentages.

Jamie Lambert steps up when needed and will be a force in Pies potential finals

The Pies had a thrilling win over the Dogs at Victoria Park on Sunday afternoon, booting 10.6 (66) to 6.5 (41). Sabrina Frederick appeared to have a bit more confidence about her, after coming back from health and safety protocols and playing a game in the VFLW. She outmatched her opponents in the air, took crucial marks and booted two important goals.

But it was Jamie Lambert who really stole the show.

She's been firing of late but really upped her game when her teammate, the ever-reliable Brittany Bonnici went down grabbing her knee late in the first quarter. It was hard to watch as the tough midfielder was rushed off by trainers and left a critical hole in the team's side. One that is still being patched from Bri Davey's absence after she went down with an ACL in Round 1, too.

Yet without wasting a minute, Lambert came to the fore. The 29-year-old tallied 3 goals, 22 disposals, 13 kicks, 9 hit outs, five marks and seven tackles. She increased the intensity and pressure, and worked incredibly hard around the contest. Coming into the final two rounds, it's fair to say, she'll be crucial in her side winning the ball and getting it up the ground in the way Collingwood like to play.

Plenty of reasons to celebrate with records broken across the round

On Sunday night, Carlton's Darcy Vescio kicked their 50th career goal against the Giants and became the first AFLW player to reach the milestone. In a post-match interview, they very humbly quipped that her team had been with them for all the points [behinds] too, so it was just as much their celebration too.

Richmond's Katie Brennan continued her consecutive goals in matches tally to 14. And while speaking of goals, it's looking like a two-women race to leading goalscorer with Adelaide's Ash Woodland and Melbourne's Tayla Harris both finishing the round on 15 with an average of 1.9.

Then over in the west, Brisbane recorded the highest score in AFLW history, finishing with 98 points and nabbing a 74-point victory over the West Coast Eagles. Emily Bates sweetened the moment too by setting an AFLW record in the first half with 22 disposals. It was goalkickers galore too with Jesse Wardlaw and Sophie Conway kicking three, Courtney Hodder and Greta Bodey finishing with two, and Dakota Davidson, Taylor Smith, Catherine Svarc, Isabel Dawes and Jade Ellinger all notching one apiece.

Plenty of reasons to sing a bit louder and crack open the champagne (or get it ready for after the season).