The dust has settled from Victoria’s blowout victory over the Allies in the first AFLW State of Origin, and although the result was lopsided, there was plenty to take from the big occasion.
The 97-point margin may not have been what anyone was hoping for when it comes to showcasing the women’s game, but the events of the match still highlighted some key points.
From individual efforts to observations about the game itself, these are some of the things we learned from the first AFLW State of Origin match.
Daisy Pearce isn’t going anywhere
If you thought that the seven-time Vic comp best and fairest was going to face a drop-off as she approaches 30, you may want to have a rethink.
The 29-year-old Melbourne midfielder put on a football clinic and made her opposition look like spectators, amassing 24 disposals and a goal in the first half alone. A bruised foot slowed her down in the third term, but the superstar still managed to get up to 37 touches.
May fans are still new to the women’s game, but be assured that a footballer like Daisy Pearce does not come around often. Most players could ever match this kind of hype, but Daisy isn’t most players. Even as some of the young stars of the game continue to develop alongside the fledgling AFLW competitoin, it will be hard to ever top what Pearce has done in, and for, this sport.
Supergoals have no place in the women’s game
Serious question, is anyone interested in the supergoal at all? Ask anyone at the AFL and most will tell you it’s “as innovative as the three-pointer in basketball” – which couldn’t be further from the truth by the way – but it’s just another gimmick to ‘improve’ a game that does not need improvement.
Nevertheless, the supergoal was introduced to women’s footy for the first time in the State of Origin match, and wouldn’t you know it, it was a flop. No supergoals were kicked, and the only media outlet even keeping track of them in its match scores was the AFL.
The AFLW has had enough tweaks already; let’s leave traditional scoring alone. And while we’re at it, lose that stupid post-goal Twenty-20 music, too.
Jasmine Garner is the real deal
Since her first senior footy season in 2016 for the St Kilda Sharks, which was overshadowed by then teammate Moana Hope kicking 100 goals in a season, Jasmine Garner has been the AFLW’s quiet achiever. She has managed to avoid the media spotlight, but anyone who knows the women’s game is well aware of her talent.
Saturday night was the first time we saw the 19-year-old Magpies forward put it all together on a big stage. With star forwards all around her as well as up the other end for the Allies, it was Garner who would shine brightest by kicking a game-high five goals.
Granted, some of her majors might’ve been a bit simple thanks to the blowout, but her full array of talent was on show nonetheless. Garner now demands more attention through her actions.
The Origin concept needs an rethink
It’s the elephant in the room many fans are avoiding, but the State of Origin concept needs a serious overhaul if it is to return in 2018.
The women’s game won over supporters in last year’s televised exhibition game as the best players from around the country battled in two teams manufactured to be competitive. It was a true spectacle, which when compared to the weekend’s SoO match, was by far the more enjoyable match to watch.
It’s not that the rest of the country has less talent than Victoria, but it was clear that Vic’s midfield depth was far more than any team could contend with. That won’t be changing in 12 months.
AFLW is not a big stadium competition
Women’s football returned to a big venue for the first time since 2015, and after all AFLW games were played at suburban grounds, it just didn’t look right.
The relatively impressive crowd was dwarfed by a sea of empty seats, when that audience would’ve packed out, say, Whitten Oval for example. Or better yet, Princes Park would’ve made for an excellent host ground given its new significance with the AFLW.
Part of the league’s charm was the return to suburban football, and it’s one of the many reasons that fans of different background swarmed to fields around the country. This was only a showcase match so it’s not a big deal, but we can consider this a lesson learned for the future.
The Allies have nothing to play for
If you’re a long-time Victorian footy fan, seeing the Big V dominating again would’ve been a real treat. It’s symbol of tradition, and the Victorian side was all about celebrating the history of state football through pre-match rev-ups and bringing in state legends to share stories. Daisy Pearce practically oozed Victorian spirit with her rendition of “We stuck it right up ’em” in her post-match speech.
In the other camp, you have a team of very skilled footballers playing a game of footy. There is no pride to be won, no traditions to continue, no motivation to give that extra 10 per cent. Even if the Victorian side was cloned to play against itself wearing Allies guernseys, the Vics still would’ve won by a landslide.
It’s just another flaw in what is a concept that doesn’t appear to work. Well done to the AFL for giving it a go and trying to bring back a semblance of the old National Championships, but in its current format, it is not a success.