Welcome to Balls of Steel’s AFL Beat!
AFLW Round 1 Recaps
The Round and Season started with the new Geelong Cats hosting the Collingwood Magpies at GMHBA Stadium in Geelong. This is the same stadium the men’s team plays in, so that’s a positive step towards equality. Another positive note is that Geelong drew the highest attendance out of all AFLW games on the weekend with 18,429 fans.
The Cats chose to prepare for this season by basing their roster on the ladies on their existing VFL team. This paid dividends as the ladies were familiar with each other and played together very well. On the other side, the Collingwood Magpies were one of the teams that got raided in the expansion draft and were missing a lot of players from last year.
Adding injury to insult, last year’s top rookie, Chloe Molloy, is out for the season with a Lisfranc injury. Even with that going against them, the Pies played very well in what was a difficult and close game. The Cats pulled ahead in the second quarter as they held the Pies scoreless. The Pies rallied in the third to pull ahead by one. However, the Cats again held the Pies scoreless in the fourth while adding two behinds to pull out the hard-fought win.
Here are the highlights:
Later on Friday night, the Adelaide Crows hosted the Western Bulldogs in a matchup of the only AFLW champions to date. It was way too late for me, so I ended up watching the replay on Saturday morning.
This was another super tight and low-scoring game in which the tackles were plentiful. As in the first game, the second quarter proved decisive as the Bulldogs were able to convert opportunities into goals while the Crows settled for behinds.
This was really the theme of the game as the Crows ended up with only one goal to their name for the entire match with 11 behinds. The Doggies only had 8 scoring shots, but converted two of them for goals and that made all the difference as they squeezed out the win by one point.
Here are the highlights:
North American Saturday night brought a tripleheader of AFLW action starting with the new North Melbourne Kangaroos hosting the Carlton Blues in Hobart, Tasmania. Their guernseys actually read out “Tasmanian Kangaroos”, which was a nice symbol of support and commitment to Tasmanian footy.
One thing to note is that North Melbourne was the expansion team that decided to build through the expansion draft and thus raided existing teams for players. They got four stars from the Brisbane Lions, four stars from the Collingwood Magpies, and several players from the GWS Giants.
Thus, the big question going into this game was whether a team of all-stars could mesh quickly enough to play a good game of footy. Well, either Carlton is really bad (which they were last year) or the Roos have meshed incredibly well, but the outcome was never in doubt.
The Roos outhit, outran, and overpowered the Blues to the tune of a 36 point victory. Here are the highlights:
The next game featured the Melbourne Demons hosting the Fremantle Dockers at Casey Fields, in the suburbs outside of Melbourne. As opposed to the tight low-scoring Friday games, this game was tight, but free-flowing.
It turned into the second-highest scoring game in AFLW history.
Fremantle dominated the first half, building a 20 point lead. However, the Demons rebounded strongly in the third quarter, outscoring the Dockers 34-0 to take a 14 point lead into the final quarter. In the fourth, the Dockers bounced back, holding the Demons to one behind while scoring three goals and one behind to take the match by 4. Here are the highlights:
The last game was again too late for my old ass, but I was able to see the replay on Sunday morning. Much better than a ten hour pregame show! The last game had the GWS Giants visiting the Brisbane Lions and looking to avenge last year’s 40 point loss that propelled the Lions into the Grand Final at the expense of the Giants.
Even though both teams lost significant players to the expansion draft, they still have a lot of talent to choose from and there was little dropoff from last year’s teams. Both teams played very well in the humidity and heat, although the Giants were hampered a bit when Aimee Schmidt was lost for the game with an arm injury.
For the Lions, Jess Wuetschner was the star as she kicked three goals, two in the critical third quarter when the Lions roared back (sorry) after the Giants had taken a two goal lead. The tense fourth quarter yielded only two behinds for the Lions and no points for the Giants as Brisbane squeezed out the 2 point win. Here are the highlights:
Having watched every single game, it is clear to me that this season will be very very tight. I’m not quite sure what the Roos’ handy victory over the Blues means. If the Blues are just a bad team, it could be a very interesting and competitive season. If the Blues are in the same neighborhood as the others, the season may turn into a battle for second place behind North Melbourne.
We will have to wait until we see more games to find out exactly how good the Roos are.
Let’s take a look at the ladders, shall we?
This year, since we have two new teams, the ladder will be split up into TWO ladders, one for each conference:
|1||North Melbourne Kangaroos||1||0||0||4||325|
It’s interesting to see how the percentage system works. Both Geelong and Western won by one point. However, since the Doggies’ game was lower-scoring, that one point means more. Keep that in mind when you are watching future games.
The big loss has put the Blues in a heap of trouble and they’ll be relying on out-pointing teams or hoping that North beats up on the others just as they beat up on them. Either way, it’s not a good start to the season.
Every other team, I think, has a reason to feel good about their chances. Keep in mind that the post-season has expanded and the top two teams in each conference will make Preliminary Finals. The Winner of Conference A will play the Runner-up of Conference B and vice-versa. Winners of Preliminary Finals will obviously meet in the Grand Final.
Lady Footy Tipping Contest
The Footy Tipping Contest for AFLW is back again! Those who participated last year should have received an email. If any of you newer readers want to participate, please click on this link and sign up. The URL is https://www.footytips.com.au/comps/DFO_Lady_Footy. It’s an Australian ESPN site, so it’s perfectly legit and, even better, completely free. It’s the same site we use for the regular AFL season.
Here are the standings after Round One:
|Total Tips||Total Margin|
|4||Joliet Jake Delhomme||3||10||3||10|
|7||Game Time Decision||2||16||2||16|
We are off to a great start as all 10 Tippers submitted their tips and we all got at least one pick right! Keep up the good work, y’all!
If any of you want to join in, it’s not too late! There are still lots of games to pick and even someone starting from scratch should be able to catch up to the pack.
DONT FORGET TO PUT THE FOOTY TIPS IN!
AFLW Round 2
As a reminder, all the games are available to watch on the Watch AFL app. If you are an International Member of one of the AFL clubs, this is included in your membership. If not, you can subscribe directly through the Watch AFL website: https://www.watchafl.com.au
As I mentioned last week, for $150 per year, you get to see live every AFLW game, every AFL preseason game, the AFLX tourney, and all AFL games up to and including the Grand Final. You also get full game replays of every game I mentioned in the prior sentence as well as the live feed of the Fox Footy channel from Australia.
It’s really quite a bargain for nine months of entertainment.
Fox Soccer Plus also shows most games live. However, there is an extra charge for that channel and if you’re only interested in AFL, getting the Watch AFL yearly subscription is much cheaper and you get the benefit of replays without having to take the time to record games.
Here is the schedule for this week (all times Pacific):
Friday, February 8, 2019
12:15 AM – GWS Giants v North Melbourne Kangaroos – at Drummoyne Oval
Please keep in mind that this game is really being played on North American Thursday night. Which means, with work commitments, it’s going to be a replay watch. It should be worth it, though, to see if the Roos are for real or if the Giants can rebound off their tough loss.
9:45 PM – Collingwood Magpies v Melbourne Demons at Victoria Park
Both teams lost close games in Round One and absolutely need a win to avoid falling too far behind the others. Since it is only a 7 game season, this game will be do or die.
Saturday, February 2, 2019
12:15 AM – Western Bulldogs v Geelong Cats at Whitten Oval
Again, keep in mind this is a Friday night game in North America. The Cats and Doggies both won by one and really the main point to take away is that you have dogs and cats playing each other. Are you a Dog person or a Cat person?
9:05 PM – Carlton Blues v Adelaide Crows at Ikon Park
I’m pretty interested to see how the Blues react to last week’s big loss. They get the Crows at home, which should help, but this is really a must win for them. Lose again and the season will start to unravel.
11:05 PM – Fremantle Dockers v Brisbane Lions at Fremantle Oval
Two first-round winners meet to see who can take a big step towards a place in the preliminary finals. It should be, as they say in Australia, a cracker!
There are no AFLX news this week. The full teams will probably be announced next week in advance of the February 22, 2019 tournament.
I leave with you this week’s Balls Discovery of the Week!
Lauren Bella plays ruck for the Brisbane Lions and had her hands full against the Giants. However, she persevered and helped her team grind out an important victory.
Lauren played for the Gold Coast Suns’ academy team and has excelled at both netball and footy in her sporting career. The 18-year old was drafted at #45 this year by the Brisbane Lions due partly to her 188 cm height (that’s 6′ 2″ to you and me) and partly to her skills at footy.
Bella means beautiful in Spanish and Italian.
As we saw this weekend, the women do sometimes hit harder than the men and their sport is a lot of fun to watch. The games have been close and exciting and it looks like that will continue throughout the season. If you haven’t started watching, now is a good time to start. See you next week!