What we learned in Round 10: The finalists are (finally!) set

Well, the time has come. The home-and-away season has ended with the conclusion of Round 10. It's been a disrupted season of footy, with interruptions left, right and centre but the players and teams have carried on -- some of whom sacrificed a lot to do so -- and delivered some outstanding footy.

Now, the top 6 are finals bound; the Adelaide Crows are minor premiers and the upcoming finals are looking as enticing as ever.

However, before we look forward, let's take a look back to the round just gone.

We saw even more milestones with Melbourne's Libby Birch playing her 50th game and Karen Paxman delivering her 1000th career disposal. Brisbane's coach Craig Starcevich reached his 50th game in the women's system and North Melbourne's Ash Riddell broke the disposals in a game record by 7 with 42 disposals.

There was a lot going on with a lot on the line. So, here are the main takeaways from the weekend with what we learned in Round 10.


The Top 6 heading to finals for the sixth season

With Collingwood's win over Richmond at Victoria Park on Saturday afternoon, the top are locked in. They are Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane, North Melbourne, Fremantle and Collingwood - which interestingly, are the exact same six that played finals last season.

Adelaide finished on top the home and away ladder and claim the minor premiership, while Melbourne came in a close second. Each will head straight to a preliminary final, which they'll host, while first enjoying a week's break as the other four teams battle for a spot against them.

In the qualifying finals, Brisbane and North Melbourne will host and enjoy a home ground advantage, which could prove the difference. First up, the Kangaroos take on Fremantle at Arden Street Oval, with the winner playing Melbourne the following weekend. Then, the Lions will host Collingwood at the Gabba, with the winner next taking on Adelaide.

Interestingly, the teams in the six are the exact same lot that played finals last season. Without COVID interruptions, the Western Bulldogs arguably could have disrupted that same finals run, finishing in seventh spot and winning some tough games, such as against Adelaide in Round 6. But alas, it wasn't meant to be this season.

The Adelaide Crows are minor premiers

Adelaide secured the minor premiership with a 39-point win over St Kilda, booting 7.11 (53) to 2.2 (14). With the substantial margin, the Crows held on the top spot with a 216.6 percentage, keeping Melbourne (who were also on the same number of points, 36, as them) to second on a percentage of 186.5.

The South Australian club are aiming for their third flag this season - and it's looking more than possible that they could do it. They only lost one match this competition so far, which was against the Western Bulldogs in Round 6, in what has been dubbed the upset of the season.

They demonstrated how to be beaten in that game -- with chaotic footy and winning clearances -- but seemed to counter some of those weaknesses, as no team has been able to do it since.

They've got a mighty midfield with Anne Hatchard and Ebony Marinoff and an electric forward line with Erin Phillips and Ash Woodland as star standouts. Plus, skipper Chelsea Randall is back in the side after a right hamstring injury.

All in all, they'll be gunning for that premiership cup, too, and it might be hard to stop them.

Ash Woodland takes out leading goalscorer

Since the competition began, the top spot for most goals kicked has seemed a two-horse race between Melbourne's Tayla Harris and Adelaide's Ash Woodland. Over the weekend, the title was claimed by the Crows player, who booted two against St Kida to bring her tally to 19, one ahead of Harris and the Giant's Cora Staunton.

Katie Brennan has also been in close contention this season and holds the record for most consecutive matches with a goal kicked at 15 but missed this round's game against Collingwood due to injury.

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Some teams take a while to get into groove

For many fans, it's a pity the season is so short because often teams seem to take a hot minute to find their groove during competition - but by the time they do, the home-and-away rounds are finished and finals and finalists are locked in.

Take Carlton, who over the weekend went toe-to-toe with Melbourne, losing by just one point in the nail-biting thriller. They displayed clean ball sizes, team work, relentless pressure and snappy, on-the-run goals, which were the result of a gusty and determined midfield. Nicola Stevens in particular seemed to find her goalscoring feet, booting two and building needed momentum in her side.

The Demons were the better team on the night, securing the W, but Carlton made them work hard for it and gave their fans a lot to be proud of. At Casey Field, Melbourne's windy home, the final scoreboard read 5.4 (34) to 5.3 (33).

Similarly, the Giants seemed to find their groove -- albeit too late in the season -- against Geelong on Friday night. They were dealing with a depleted side -- Rebecca Beeson, Alyce Parker and Chloe Dalton all out -- yet managed an 18-point win over the spirited Cats.

It was their best score of the season. Cora Staunton was in goalkicking fine form, registering four in total, while young gun Jess Doyle booted two herself and Erin McKinnon set a new record for hitouts with 47.

Overall, a lot of promise was shown but unfortunately, the team from NSW will need to head back to rest, recovery and pre-season before attempting to build on the momentum next season.

Ash Riddell a strong contender for Best & Fairest

North Melbourne's Ash Riddell has had an absolute cracker of a season, registering an average of 29.9 disposals and leading the total count with 299, 50 clear of next placed Ebony Marinoff on 248.

This round, in her team's huge win over West Coast at Arden Street, she broke the record for disposals in a game with 42, clearing the previous one of 35 by a solid 7 points.

After smashing the record the star Kangaroo said "I just plod along and do my thing...mostly, it was nice to see the team have a really good performance" and that humble mentality combined with absolute star power might win her the best and fairest this year. She's proven to be a consistent and reliable midfielder who can lift her team and will surely be in contention for the gong.

Only time - and the votes - will tell at the upcoming W Awards.