AFLW – Round 6 Report

To borrow an expression from horse racing circles, the handicapper deserves a raise, as the AFLW season heads toward the most thrilling final weekend imaginable with five teams still vying for the two Grand Final spots which remain up for grabs.

A culmination of the Giants remarkable come from behind victory to topple the ladder leading Bulldogs and the huge upset win by Collingwood in Brisbane has blown the competition wide open, with the weekends results ensuring that the Western Bulldogs, Melbourne, GWS, Adelaide and Brisbane all hold onto a live chance of reaching the March 24th decider.

Cora Staunton, Phoebe McWilliams, Laura Tesoriero, Lauren Spark continued to fly the flag for AFL in Europe with great aplomb, with Laura Corrigan-Duryea & Kate Shierlaw both fighting to regain their place for the final matches of the season.

Afleurope.org will continue to follow the progress of all six of these listed AFLW players who have ties to AFL in Europe for the remainder of the season, so stay tuned over the final fortnight for updates on how all of the girls are faring.

To watch all the AFL and AFLW matches in 2018 live and on-demand, click here and enter the code AFLEUROPE10 to get 10% off your subscription!

Cora Staunton – #13 – Greater Western Sydney Giants – Recruited from GAA

Cora Staunton has officially reached ‘duck to water’ status, with the former Gaelic superstar putting in yet another starring performance for the Giants, as their late charge for a spot in the Grand-Final continues to gain momentum at the right time of year.

The top of the table Bulldogs made all of the early running in Canberra before a Staunton inspired charge nearing halftime carried the Giants into the lead, as the Irishwoman set up Jessica Dal Pos before immediately adding to the buffer with her best goal of the season so far.

The Bulldogs fought hard in the second half but were helpless to stop the surging Giants, who maintained an 18-point lead at the final siren to stretch their unbeaten run to four games.

Staunton and the Giants are now set for a huge final round Friday night matchup with the Brisbane Lions in Blacktown, where a GWS victory will see them move to the top spot on the AFLW ladder ahead of the weekends other fixtures, while a Lions win also gives them a mathematical chance at their second consecutive Grand Final birth.

Phoebe McWilliams – #3 – Greater Western Sydney Giants – Formerly Wimbledon Hawks (2015)

While Staunton continues to grab the headlines for the Giants, the work of Phoebe McWilliams across half forward is certainly not going unnoticed as she played yet another important role in her side’s victory.

McWilliams was lively during the Giants second-quarter burst and was unlucky not to hit the scoreboard with a tough set shot of her own, but it mattered not thanks to the dominant performances from teammates Courtney Gum and Alicia Eva particularly.

She will once again provide an influential forward half presence on Friday night against a vulnerable Brisbane backline that was exposed by Collingwood at the weekend, with the Giants poised to complete a remarkable comeback after being touted as cellar dwellers following the two losses to open their season.

It’s now a simple equation for GWS, where a win will force Adelaide to register an almighty win against Collingwood to topple them on percentage, and a loss will mean it is goodnight Irene for season 2018.

Lauren Spark – #11 – Western Bulldogs – Formerly Wimbledon Hawks (2015/16)

While it was a joyous night for the Giants in Canberra, things were considerably more sombre in the opposition change rooms as the Bulldogs squandered their chance to book a place in the Grand Final one week early.

Lauren Spark and the Dogs had the better of the match early on and kicked out to a two-goal lead when Kirsten McLeod put through her second major just after halftime, but the Giants were inspired and responded with a flurry of attacking advances that eventually broke the Dogs and saw their lead disappear before the main break.

Spark continued to play in her new role up forward in the absence of Katie Brennan but was starved of any great opportunities, as the Giants continued to control the game until the final siren despite the Bulldogs fighting gamely.

The loss sets the Bulldogs up for a do or die assignment against the Demons on Saturday night at the Whitten Oval, where a loss will see them relying on GWS and Adelaide to lose their respective fixtures to cling on to the second spot and face the Dee’s in a rematch the following weekend.

Lauren Tesoriero – #7 – Collingwood Magpies – Formerly Wandsworth Demons (2017)

Despite being out of premiership contention, Collingwood and Lauren Tesoriero have taken another step to restoring pride in the black and white army after scoring an upset victory against the Lions in Brisbane.

Collingwood shot out of the blocks to score the first three goals of the game which including two to Christina Bernardi, immediately putting the highly-fancied Lions on the back foot. Their tough task became close to insurmountable once conditions turned and a trademark tropical Queensland storm rolled in, making ball handling incredibly challenging and the early Magpie lead even more significant.

Tesoriero was industrious as always through the midfield but it was the Collingwood forward line who shone brightest, with Moana Hope & Christina Bernardi sharing half a dozen goals between them with a great accuracy that was ultimately the difference in the game which finished 8.5 (53) to 5.9 (39).

The result is one that Lions will rue should their season not progress past this Friday night, but there was little they could do against a passionate Collingwood outfit who now have two wins from their past three games.

Laura Corrigan-Duryea – #11 – Melbourne Demons – Irish Banshees Co-Captain (2017 International Cup)

The Demons backed up their thrilling win over the Lions last Friday night with a dominant display against a struggling Carlton side at Princes Park on Sunday, controlling proceedings from the word go to run out 35-point winners.

The win came on the back of their dominant opening quarter which knocked the spirit from the Carlton side and spurred the girls in red and blue onto some big individual performances, with Tegan Cunningham bagging three goals up forward, Daisy Pearce dominant through the middle, Shelley Scott racking up 19 possessions and five tackles and Elise O’Dea arguably the best on ground chiming in with 19 disposals and 3 goals of her own.

Laura Corrigan-Duryea was not in the selected squad but will be banging down the door at training throughout the week to earn a recall ahead of a potential Grand-Final appearance, and she could very well get her chance after vice-captain Mel Hickey had her season cruelly ended by an ACL injury.

A spot in the final is now the Dee’s to lose, with the Saturday night blockbuster against the Bulldogs shaping as the biggest home and away game of AFLW’s short history and certainly one not to miss, particularly if the Giants take the points on Friday night.

Kate Shierlaw – #25 – Carlton Blues – Formerly Wimbledon Hawks (2016)

While the Demon’s celebrated, it was another tough night to be wearing Navy Blue as Carlton endured their fifth consecutive loss and sunk to the bottom rung of the home and away ladder ahead of a final round trip to Perth next Saturday.

Kate Shierlaw was absent but there would have been little she could do to curtail the rampaging Demons, with courageous games from Darcy Vescio, Georgia Gee, Tayla Harris and Maddy Keryk not enough for the Blues to stay in touch.

Carlton will look to finish their season on a high at the Fremantle Oval on Saturday, with a win enough to see them avoid the wooden spoon, and importantly give them the chance to finish higher than arch-rival Collingwood should they fall to Adelaide at Olympic Park, which would come as a small consolation for the Blues after key injury and suspensions curtailed their strong start to the year.

To watch all the AFL and AFLW matches in 2018 live and on demand, click here and enter the code AFLEUROPE10 to get 10% off your subscription!