What we learned in AFLW: Lions one step closer to back-to-back

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Arnell hopeful of rapid AFLW professionalisation (0:47)

Former Brisbane and Carlton player Lauren Arnell says she's hopeful the AFLW will soon attract more money and staff as the league hurtles towards professionalisation. (0:47)

Another weekend in the COVID-impacted AFLW finals series has gone by with the postponed qualifying final between Brisbane and Collingwood played out at the Gabba in Brisbane.

It was humid conditions in Brisbane and especially heated on field with some impassioned moments between the two sides as they fought for a place in next week's preliminary final.

They were also more milestones reached with Brisbane captain Breanna Koenen playing her 50th game, Dakota Davidson playing her 25th game and a new debutant for the Lions in Maggie Harmer.

And there plenty of takeaways from the game! So, here's what we learned in the second weekend of finals.


Brisbane Lions through to a preliminary final

With a whooping 50 point win over Collingwood, Brisbane have secured their place in a preliminary final and are one step closer to going back-to-back. They ended the match booting a 10.10 (70) to 3.2 (20) from a range of contributors, showcasing their depth and spread of talent in the comprehensive victory.

Throughout the game, the home side controlled the contest, continually won the ball and made sure the game stayed on their terms. They had 28 clearances to 14, denying the visiting side to get hands on the ball and had continual scoring pressure and territory dominance with 44 inside 50s to 21 and 12 marks inside 50 to 1.

Pressure was also on show with Brisbane having 51 tackles to 36 and as the game went on, Collingwood lost some discipline, conceding two 50m penalties that resulted in goals from Brisbane's Jesse Wardlaw and Ally Anderson.

It was a heated contest and will no doubt contribute a chapter to the brewing rivalry between these two sides that seem to meet in the finals.

In this series, however, it's Brisbane who will be packing their bags to head to Melbourne for a historic match and preliminary final at the MCG.

Collingwood bow out of finals after a turbulent season

Collingwood have had an especially unsettled season, being depleted by injuries throughout -- including star players in Bri Davey and Britt Bonnici -- and have recently been weakened by COVID ripping through their camp.

Nonetheless, they flew to Brisbane ready for a proper finals fight and put up a gutsy effort against the reigning premiers and top-tier side.

This season has shown a lot of hope going into future seasons, especially in impact player Jamie Lambert, who has proven she's a force to be reckoned with. Over the weekend, Brisbane's Cathy Svarc held her to only 12 disposals but she still managed to get in 5 tackles and applied plenty of pressure.

Sarah Rowe and Ruby Schleicher have also been ever-reliable players this season.

For the Pies, it was a disappointing end to what has been an incredibly gritty season with a lot of resilience and determination on show. The Victorian side can now enjoy a brief but well-earned rest before jumping into next season's preseason to come back fighting for another shot at glory.

Lions can't let finals nerve take hold

Brisbane started the game with three scoring shots that were gettable goals but registered behinds as it appeared finals nerves were at foot. They finished the quarter with only one goal on the board (9 points) despite having the opportunity to register more.

Coming out in the second quarter, they had a more composed and confident effort which resulted in three goals. And once the scoreboard was well and truly in their favour, they demonstrated how dangerous they can be in front of goal when in stride.

This effort continued right until the final siren as the game was bookended by an onslaught of majors that left Melbourne fans back home fearful.

As they head further into the finals, they'll need to back themselves in from the get-go -- not just when in a convincingly lead -- as jitters can prove costly in the pointy end of the competition.

Orla O'Dwyer is coming in hot, continually going from strength to strength

Orla O'Dwyer has increasingly been the talk of the town this season, boasting classy and clean football as her skills seem to go from strength to strength each round.

This weekend was no different. The 23-year-old speedy winger had 18 disposals, 12 kicks, 6 hitouts and 2 marks. And in her best moment of the match, she booted a long-range goal from 55m out, which landed 15 metres in front of goal and bounced through.

Perhaps some luck of the Irish in that one, helped by her mother and sister having flown to Australia a few days earlier to see their beloved family member play AFLW live for the first time.

And the competition does love a family story.

Notably, Greta Bodey was also in spectacular form, kicking two goals and Emily Bates and Ally Anderson were ever-reliable, registering 19 and 18 disposals respectively.

First AFLW game at the 'G will be blockbuster Melbourne v Brisbane

Next weekend, a new chapter will be written into the history of the AFLW with the first official match in the competition played at the iconic MCG. Which, if you ask any Victorian, is where the heart of Australian rules football resides.

The two teams that will be forever engraved in this moment are the Brisbane Lions and Melbourne Demons, in what will surely be a day to remember for all the players and coaching staff involved.

It's also set to be a blockbuster as the two top-tier sides go head-to-head, known for their pace across the ground, clean ball skills, defensive pressure and spread of goal kicking contributors.

It will surely be one of the ages.