We are now well and truly at the business end of the AFLW season, and while you want to be playing your best team footy right now, superstar individual efforts are often the difference between teams making the Grand Final and missing it.
Round five saw some of those spectacular individual efforts, which have altered the make-up of the ladder and ensured that we will have a nail-biting finish to the second AFLW season.
For the second week in a row, we have a new leader in the Leesa Catto Media MVP count. There is no doubt that new leader Kate Lutkins has deserved her spot, and there is a case to be made that the Lions might not be where they are if it weren’t for her performances this season.
But even with a two-vote lead with two rounds remaining, Lutkins is still no certainty to claim the win, with nine other players just one best-on-ground effort away from taking the lead or levelling things up.
It’s still all up in the air, and it’s going to be exciting to see who claims the award this year. Here are the full votes, plus the Team of the Week for round five!
Back pocket: Ebony Antonio (Fremantle)
Key stats: 19 disposals (13 kicks, 6 handballs), 68.4% DE, 3 tackles, 4 rebound 50s
Previous TOTW: R3 (CHB)
Under constant pressure from the GWS midfield and attackers, Ebony Antonio stood up in the backline despite her team being bested. Her excellent disposal efficiency considering the nature of the match is particularly impressive. If only Freo could clone Antonio to allow her to play both in defence and in the midfield.
Full-back: Kate Lutkins (Brisbane)
Key stats: 26 disposals (21 kicks, 5 handballs), 61.5% DE, 11 contested possessions, 4 marks, 4 tackles, 9 rebound 50s, 3 inside 50s, 5 one-percenters
Previous TOTW: R1 (CHB), R3 (FB), R4 (FB)
Regular readers are probably getting bored of us gushing over Kate Lutkins by now. She has well and truly proven to be the competition’s best defender this year, and her nine rebound 50s is the most we’ve ever seen from a player in an AFLW match, breaking the old record of seven. She wins her one-on-one, gets heaps of the ball and uses it well – what more do you want from a defender?
Back pocket: Chelsea Randall (Adelaide)
Key stats: 15 disposals (12 kicks, 3 handballs), 60% DE, 3 inside 50s, 7 tackles, 10 one-percenters
Previous TOTW: R1 (HFF), R3 (BP), R4 (BP)
Another game, another stunning performance by Chelsea Randall. She was her usual self in terms of finding plenty of the footy, and Randall was extra damaging in round five by pushing forward to have an impact up there. Her seven tackles is made even more impressive by her racking up a stunning 10 one-percenters, the second most by a player in AFLW history.
Half-back flank: Karen Paxman (Melbourne)
Key stats: 25 disposals (16 kicks, 9 handballs), 52% DE, 14 contested possessions, 4 marks, 5 tackles, 3 clearances, 3 one-percenters
Previous TOTW: R2 (Int)
The season hasn’t gone quite the way Karen Paxman has wanted thus far, but she seems to be growing with each passing week. She was a wrecking ball in the midfield against Brisbane, and also led her team on the half-back line when the Lions pressed. While the efforts of Daisy Pearce are often used as the barometer for how the Dees are going, you could argue that it’s Paxman who is the true difference maker.
Centre half-back: Jasmine Garner (Collingwood)
Key stats: 13 disposals (10 kicks, 3 handballs), 76.9% DE, 7 marks, 4 rebound 50s, 3 inside 50s
Previous TOTW: R4 (CHB)
For the second week in a row, Jasmine Garner claims the centre half-back spot in our Team of the Week. Though we are unlikely to see a permanent position change for Garner, she is certainly having more of an impact in defence than she was up forward in the first half of the season. Her best asset has always been her marking, and she is putting it to great use in the back half.
Half-back flank: Ebony Marinoff (Adelaide)
Key stats: 16 disposals (13 kicks, 3 handballs), 43.8% DE, 10 contested possessions, 6 tackles, 4 clearances, 4 rebound 50s, 4 inside 50s
Previous TOTW: R3 (HBF), R4 (Int)
This is Ebony Marinoff’s third consecutive appearance in our team of the week, and it’s arguably the most impressive considering she did so without Erin Phillips playing through the midfield. Marinoff is most effective when Phillips takes some of the attention off, but she was able to stand up and bully Carlton’s midfield all on her own.
Centre: Daisy Pearce (Melbourne)
Key stats: 24 disposals (16 kicks, 8 handballs), 58.3% DE, 13 contested possessions, 4 tackles, 5 clearances, 4 inside 50s, 2 goals
Previous TOTW: R1 (HBF), R3 (RR)
The performance Daisy Pearce put on against Brisbane will have felt like redemption for her after being comfortably negated under a tag the week prior. In the crucial round five match, Pearce kicked the first two goals of the game and went on to be a presence in the midfield for the rest of the match. Without her impact, the Demons likely lose.
Half-forward flank: Courtney Gum (GWS)
Key stats: 16 disposals (9 kicks, 6 handballs), 37.5% DE, 8 tackles, 6 inside 50s, 1 goal
Previous TOTW: R3 (RV)
Courtney Gum’s gutsy performance was a good summary for how GWS performed against Fremantle in general. The Freo midfielders and defenders had no answer for Gum who continued to heap pressure on the Dockers, both with her kicks inside 50 and relentless tackling.
Centre half-forward: Caitlyn Edwards (Collingwood)
Key stats: 11 disposals (8 kicks, 3 handballs), 72.7% DE, 6 tackles, 4 clearances, 2 goals
Previous TOTW: –
It wasn’t the happiest day for Collingwood in terms of creating goal scoring opportunities, but Caitlyn Edwards stood up when the team needed her. She is one of the original swing players in the AFLW, having been used as a defender who can push forward since the competition began. On this occasion, she was able to offer a cool head and kick two goals from free kicks.
Half-forward flank: Stephanie Cain (Fremantle)
Key stats: 15 disposals (9 kicks, 6 handballs), 66.7% DE, 3 marks, 5 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 1 goal
Previous TOTW: –
On a day when so many of Fremantle’s star players failed to deliver, Stephanie Cain did her best to try and make up for it. Against some of the most relentless players in the competition, Cain managed to hold her own and was even able to earn a goal for her efforts. The Dockers needed more contributors like her.
Forward pocket: Ruth Wallace (Adelaide)
Key stats: 9 disposals (7 kicks, 2 handballs), 66.7% DE, 3 one-percenters, 3 goals
Previous TOTW: –
Ruth Wallace is the perfect small forward in that she always seems to know where the fall of the ball will be, and knows how to best use the footy when it comes her way. She has quietly gone about her business to kick six goals for the season after putting up three majors against Carlton, and as much as Brooke Lochland’s profile has been raised after her big bag, Wallace is the competition’s premier small forward.
Full-forward: Sabrina Frederick-Traub (Brisbane)
Key stats: 15 disposals (9 kicks, 6 handballs), 46.7% DE, 13 contested possessions, 3 marks, 3 goals
Previous TOTW: R1 (CHF)
Sabrina Frederick-Traub finally managed to put some goals on the board this season, and she almost single-handedly dragged her team over the line against Melbourne. Teams are starting to be able to negate her in the air, but as proved against the Demons, she is just as much of a threat at ground level and in the ruck if she is allowed any space.
Forward pocket: Brooke Lochland (Western Bulldogs)
Key stats: 7 disposals (5 kicks, 2 handballs), 57.1% DE, 3 marks, 2 goals
Previous TOTW: R4 (FF)
Brooke Lochland was never going to be able to match her performance in round four, but two goals on top of her seven the week prior is a great sign that she won’t be falling off the face of the earth any time soon. If Lochland can kick even a goal a game, it makes the Bulldogs that much harder to beat.
Ruck: Erin McKinnon (GWS)
Key stats: 6 disposals (6 handballs), 50% DE, 39 hitouts, 4 tackles
Previous TOTW: R2 (R)
Though the Giants didn’t quite have the clearance dominance they would’ve liked, McKinnon dominated in the ruck against Alicia Janz and recorded 39 hitouts, which ties the record for most hitouts by a player in a match. Though she is still sometimes a bit quieter in other aspects of the match than you’d like from a ruck, her size gives her what is almost an automatic win in ruck contests, and her tap work is exceptional.
Rover: Elise O’Dea (Melbourne)
Key stats: 23 disposals (17 kicks, 6 handballs), 52.2% DE, 10 contested possessions, 4 marks, 12 tackles, 4 clearances, 3 rebound 50s, 6 inside 50s
Previous TOTW: R2 (HBF), R4 (Int)
When Elise O’Dea has a good game, she has a really, really good game. Though the Dees got the win, there was still a lack of four-quarter performers, which was most apparent in the final term when the Lions almost willed themselves over the line. However, O’Dea never slowed down and was key in holding out Brisbane late on in the match.
Ruck-rover: Ellie Blackburn (Western Bulldogs)
Key stats: 17 disposals (12 kicks, 5 handballs), 64.7% DE, 4 clearances, 3 inside 50s, 3 one-percenters, 1 goal
Previous TOTW: R1 (RR), R3 (HFF), R4 (HBF)
With Emma Kearney being tagged closely, Ellie Blackburn clearly enjoyed the chance to have a free fun at the ball around stoppages. She caused havoc around the ground and always seems to find herself in positions to kick goals. It just goes to show that if teams want to try and put all their efforts into stopping Kearney, Blackburn will raise her game.
Interchange: Sarah D’Arcy (Collingwood)
Key stats: 13 disposals (9 kicks, 4 handballs), 84.6% DE, 4 marks, 4 tackles
Previous TOTW: –
Sarah D’Arcy makes such a big difference to Collingwood’s structure as a centre half-forward who can also be a blistering outside midfielder. In the crucial stages of the match against the Bulldogs, D’Arcy’s disposal was brilliant, and she was a key part of Collingwood’s link-up play at the weekend.
Interchange: Katie Loynes (Carlton)
Key stats: 11 disposals (5 kicks, 6 handballs), 72.7% DE, 10 tackles, 4 inside 50s
Previous TOTW: –
Though Carlton still lost comfortably, it’s clear to see that the Blues are much improved with Katie Loynes in the midfield. She doesn’t rack up the disposals you want from top midfielders, but her tackling and pressure is out of this world. If Carlton can get one or two really good midfielders in the off-season, suddenly Katie Loynes’ impact would mirror that of somebody like Ebony Marinoff.
Interchange: Emma Kearney (Western Bulldogs)
Key stats: 13 disposals (13 kicks), 53.8% DE, 3 clearances, 4 inside 50s
Previous TOTW: R1 (C), R2 (C), R3 (C), R4 (C)
It’s no surprise to see Emma Kearney in our Team of the Week – she is the only player to be named in every round thus far – but it’s the first time she has not been named in the centre. Collingwood’s Brittany Bonnici did all she could to limit Kearney’s impact, but the powerful midfielder was still able to get boot to ball and rack up metres gained, which is maybe the most important statistic in the women’s game.
Interchange: Cora Staunton (GWS)
Key stats: 9 disposals (6 kicks, 3 handballs), 44.4%, 4 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 1 goal
Previous TOTW: –
Cora Staunton has been threatening to have a performance worthy of making the Team of the Week all season, and it finally came together for her against Fremantle. She kicked a key goal and was directly responsible for another, and would’ve had a second goal assist had her teammate not missed from close range. Staunton’s fearless attack on the football makes her hard for most defenders to deal with – if only she were 10 years younger and we could enjoy her unorthodox approach for longer.
Interchange: Kerryn Harrington (Carlton)
Key stats: 11 disposals (9 kicks, 2 handballs), 81.8% DE, 4 marks, 9 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 3 one-percenters
Previous TOTW: –
Carlton has been crying out for midfield contributors, and in what has otherwise been a season to forget, they’ve found an important piece in Kerryn Harrington. Her disposal efficiency in a key midfield role is what stands out most, along with her tackling pressure and marks tally. As is the case with Loynes, Harrington could be a real star of the competition if the Blues can find a couple of star inside midfielders.
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