AFLW Week 1

Given the condensed nature of the competition, and the small pool of finalists (just two, for those playing at home), even round one can have nearly catastrophic consequences if a side has an off week, or loses a close game. The standard of the four games, and the eight teams playing in them, varied substantially.

AFLW Player Approximate Value (PAV)

This year HPN will be running our Player Approximate Value (PAV) calculations after every round of the AFLW (and AFLM). We hope to be able to update these by the Monday night after the completion of a round, but this won’t always be the case.

PlayerClubPAVOffPAVDefPAVMidPAV Total
Phoebe McWilliamsGWS53.02.82.958.7
Emma KearneyWB14.09.825.649.4
Ellie BlackburnWB20.912.213.246.4
Chelsea RandallADEL24.414.03.942.3
Jamie StantonBL3.317.918.339.5
Jacinda BarclayGWS32.
Nicola StevensCARL7.
Daisy PearceMELB5.13.827.035.8
Chloe MolloyCOLL4.526.53.334.4
Ruth WallaceADEL24.42.56.533.5
Richelle CranstonMELB26.6-0.36.532.8
Shelley ScottMELB26.6-
Aasta O'ConnorWB14.
Katie BrennanWB27.3-1.54.930.7
Elise O'DeaMELB8.97.912.629.3
Emily BatesBL3.
Amelia BardenCOLL6.
Amy LavellFRE26.
Brooke LochlandWB12.
Erin McKinnonGWS11.410.64.526.5
Britt TullyGWS9.13.812.725.7
Emma KingCOLL4.82.718.025.6
Brittany GibsonBL9.24.711.225.2
Cecilia McIntoshCOLL4.514.56.225.2
Kate HoreMELB16.
Alexandra AndersonBL5.90.517.924.4
Emma ZielkeBL3.31.818.623.8
Alison DownieCARL14.87.11.723.6
Jess WuetschnerBL12.63.37.423.2
Kirsty LambWB5.83.913.122.8
Brianna DaveyCARL1.416.64.822.8
Sabrina Frederick-TraubBL10.29.03.322.5
Gabriella PoundCARL0.020.11.821.9
Tayla HarrisCARL12.
Breann MoodyCARL5.69.06.521.2
Tegan CunninghamMELB15.21.54.321.0
Katherine Gillespie-JonesCARL5.613.51.720.9
Justine MulesADEL8.18.04.320.4
Ashley SharpFRE12.
Cora StauntonGWS18.30.11.519.9
Kaitlyn AshmoreBL11.7-
Libby BirchWB-
Gabby O'SullivanFRE10.6-0.28.819.2
Jordan ZanchettaBL1.70.417.119.1
Angela FoleyADEL5.410.43.219.0
Shannon CampbellBL0.814.04.018.9
Nicole HildebrandBL0.
Jess HoskingCARL2.810.15.618.5
Rebecca BeesonGWS7.36.34.818.4
Darcy VescioCARL4.210.53.418.1
Angelica GogosWB1.25.411.217.7
Erin HoareMELB8.20.88.617.7
Jaimee LambertCOLL0.72.514.417.6
Ashleigh GuestMELB5.
Aisling UtriWB3.59.14.317.0
Sarah AllanADEL0.015.61.316.8
Rhiannon MetcalfeADEL8.84.43.616.8
Stephanie CainFRE8.92.05.816.7
Danielle HardimanCARL0.016.20.516.6
Eloise JonesADEL13.
Leah KaslarBL2.59.34.416.2
Dana HookerFRE1.85.58.916.1
Kate LutkinsBL1.
Emma GrantCOLL0.74.810.015.5
Nicole CallinanWB9.30.75.415.4
Maddison GayCARL7.10.47.314.8
Melissa KuysCOLL1.
Amanda FarrugiaGWS1.89.03.814.6
Kate ShierlawCARL11.30.91.713.9
Bonnie ToogoodWB8.10.54.913.6
Monique ContiWB2.34.96.313.5
Jessica AllanADEL8.14.70.713.5
Ebony MarinoffADEL0.03.79.713.5
Stephanie ChiocciCOLL2.29.81.413.4
Christina BernardiCOLL1.5-1.613.213.1
Georgia GeeCARL4.
Naomi FerresWB4.73.44.913.0
Sophie ArmitsteadADEL5.46.30.912.6
Sharni WebbBL2.32.47.812.5
Bree WhiteCOLL0.010.41.912.4
Dayna CoxADEL0.010.61.712.4
Sarah HoskingCARL1.47.43.512.3
Courtney GumGWS1.83.46.812.0
Elle BennettsGWS3.72.65.712.0
Lily MithenMELB2.
Madeleine BoydGWS1.49.31.311.9
Lauren BrazzaleCARL4.20.07.711.9
Rheanne LuggADEL5.43.42.911.7
Tahlia RandallBL3.6-2.410.511.6
Ashlee AtkinsFRE7.10.33.911.3
Caitlyn EdwardsCOLL0.05.06.311.3
Kara DonnellanFRE1.
Breanna KoenenBL1.76.92.711.3
Brittany BonniciCOLL-1.511.11.310.9
Jasmine GarnerCOLL7.4-
Catherine PhillipsMELB0.04.16.610.7
Lauren SparkWB-
Belinda SmithFRE0.06.93.410.3
Renee ForthGWS1.
Arianna ClarkeBL2.54.43.410.2
Katie LoynesCARL2.
Deanna BerryWB2.
Aliesha NewmanMELB2.51.55.910.0
Karen PaxmanMELB3.
Alicia JanzFRE7.5-
Brianna GreenFRE3.
Eliza HynesCOLL1.5-
Megan HuntBL0.
Isabel HuntingtonWB7.3-
Leah MascallFRE5.
Melissa HickeyMELB-
Ebony AntonioFRE1.
Maddy GuerinMELB2.
Jodie WhiteFRE5.
Pepa RandallGWS3.
Emma HumphriesMELB1.
Maddy CollierGWS1.
Daria BannisterWB3.5-
Sophie ConwayBL2.5-
Talia RadanADEL-5.412.70.17.3
Georgia BevanADEL2.
Ellie BrushGWS1.
Jenna BrutonWB0.
Stacey BarrFRE1.
Iilish RossCOLL-
Alicia EvaGWS-
Tiah HaynesFRE0.
Hayley MillerFRE3.
Tiarna ErnstWB1.
Deni VarnhagenADEL0.
Evangeline GoochFRE0.
Hannah ScottWB-
Tanya HetheringtonGWS-1.87.3-0.15.4
Stevie-Lee ThompsonADEL0.
Ruby SchleicherCOLL-
Katherine SmithMELB-
Moana HopeCOLL0.
Sophie LiCARL0.
Sophie CaseyCOLL4.
Lauren PearceMELB2.2-
Sarah D'ArcyCOLL3.7-
Kate McCarthyBL1.7-
Jessica SedunaryADEL0.
Jessica Dal PosGWS1.
Meg DownieMELB-
Melissa CaulfieldFRE3.5-
Jodie HicksGWS1.
Stacey LivingstoneCOLL0.
Jasmine GriersonMELB0.
Lara FilocamoFRE-
Cassie DavidsonFRE-
Alex WilliamsFRE-
Kerryn HarringtonCARL-
Laura DuryeaMELB-
Sarah DarganCOLL-0.7-
Shae AudleyCARL0.
Emma MackieWB1.
Sally RileyADEL0.
Anne HatchardADEL0.
Gabby CollingwoodBL0.
Bianca JakobssonMELB-
Sarah PerkinsADEL0.7-
Lauren ArnellCARL0.
Jasmyn HewettADEL-
Natalie PlaneCARL0.
Nicola BarrGWS-
Rebecca PrivitelliGWS-
Louise StephensonGWS-1.8-0.2-0.1-2.1

They’re currently pretty volatile (Phoebe McWilliams will not sustain a 58.7 PAV), so consider them a work in progress, but they already seem to somewhat line up with the bests of noted on after each game, and the votes in the AFLW Coaches Award.

Readers can also find these figures from the Player Approximate Value section of the menu bar at the top and at this link.

Melbourne v GWS

The Melbourne v GWS game has rightly been called a masterpiece of football, and was compelling from whistle to whistle. Whilst Melbourne dominated field position and the ground battle in the midfield all day, GWS barely wasted an opportunity up forward and were pretty resolute down back. In the end, the class at the top end of the Melbourne list and their significantly improved forward structure shone through, enabling them to sneak a win out.

The future seems bright for GWS – they should still be in the hunt for a top four place, even if the path to the Grand Final seems tough from here. Their team named for round 2 looks to be stronger, too. The return of standout midfielder Emma Swanson should help the Giants get to more level terms through the middle while their defence is bolstered with the return of Renee Tomkins, who was their most valuable 2017 defender. We’d also expect the small learning mistakes by the impressive Cora Staunton to be quickly eliminated as the season progresses.

If Melbourne are the supposed standard bearers for the competition, GWS proved (away from home) that they aren’t substantially behind them.

Western Bulldogs v Fremantle

Of course any fan of the Bulldogs may dispute the favouritism of the Demons for the premiership. Quite simply, the Bulldogs put on a show in demolishing the Dockers. The Bulldogs kept Fremantle scoreless to half-time, and whilst the Dockers were able to fight back a little in the third term, it was far too little, far too late. A healthy Katie Brennan makes a world of difference for the Dogs, and the immediate emergence of their early draftees bodes well for the season ahead. The Dockers’ struggles leave a question about where the Dogs currently sit in terms of Grand Final contention, with a lot of questions potentially being answered this week in scorching 37 degree heat against Brisbane.

For the Dockers, 2018 looms as another wasted year. Injuries have again exposed the lack of depth in the Fremantle squad. This is exacerbated considering the amount of top end Western Australian talent that headlines other clubs. Donnellan remains a bright spot for Freo, and Lavell also contributed well with a couple of goals but they still look quite lost up forward. At this early stage (and pending the return of some of their star players), perhaps the best opportunity for the Dockers to chalk up a win is against fellow strugglers Collingwood at home this weekend.

Collingwood v Carlton

Unfortunately for the competition, the most stylistically unattractive game was the one to open the 2018 season and be set up as the showpiece, with a struggling Collingwood facing off against a stagnant Carlton. As discussed last week, both sides have significant weaknesses with respect to ball movement and the make-up of their respective midfields, with the resulting game turning off some casual viewers.

There were extremely promising long term signs for both clubs – Molloy for Collingwood might soon be their best player and is an indicator of just how much the pipeline of talent from a proper under 18s development pathway is starting to change the game. Harris’ fit with Vescio seems to be quite good. However (after one short week of football), it seems that both sides are closer to Fremantle at the tail end of the ladder than the five other sides in the competition. If Carlton struggle against GWS (the midfield could be a big mismatch) that’ll all but be confirmed.

Adelaide v Brisbane

This brings us to the true showpiece match of the round, the Grand Final rematch which for all rights should have opened the season.

There were several extremely impressive movements of play, with the structure and stylistic intent of both sides being a cut above the other sides in the competition. For Brisbane, the path to victory always involved how they would shut down or negate the influence of Sarah Perkins and Erin Phillips. On the day, the latter wasn’t a concern, as Phillips pulled out of the match with an injured quad, giving the Lions a head start on their task. Perkins was largely negated by one of the star defenders of the comp in Leah Kaslar, and also spent some time off the field with a niggling injury.

Despite the absence of the best player in the league, Adelaide still put in a good fight for much of the game, but were held scoreless for three quarters. Brisbane, however, outperformed them across the ground, and the Crows really performed amazingly (and benefited from some Brisbane inaccuracy) to limit the margin to just two goals. The Lions defence looks like it has picked up exactly where it left off last year, which should scare the rest of the competition.

It is hard to come to any other conclusion than to place Brisbane, Melbourne and the Bulldogs as having the best shots of making the Grand Final, merely out of virtue of having a win on the board already, and their respective impressive performances in the first week.

“Players behind the ball” is can be an attacking weapon too

We’re not going to add too much to the storm created by the AFL’s crazy directive to clubs to change their tactics or face mid-season rule changes. Plenty of articles and comments have already covered this very well. We’d point you to anything written at girlsplayfooty for a start (and two of their writers on this topic also at the Guardian), Daisy Pearce’s article, as well as pretty much any other journalist or amateur writer who covers womens football including but not limited to Sarah Olle and the most recent Outer Sanctum podcast.

(We’d similarly and perhaps unkindly recommend ignoring most things written by footy writers at major outlets who barely ever write or speak on women’s footy otherwise)

What we do want to note though, is that the mooted rule change of mandated starting formations at the centre bounce (5 forward, 5 back, 2 wings, 4 midfielders) can have unintended consequences and probably is easy to circumvent anyway.

During the 2017 AFLM season, the Dees were noted for regularly starting centre bounces with two “forwards” charging in from the defensive side of the square to either get uncontested handball receives or impede an opponent which won the clearance. This tactic brought them success in generating quick movement and attacking opportunities. When overused, it was curbed by opponents focusing on making body contact with the running players, but it still had its place and some utility as the season wore on and other clubs tried it too.

That sort of creativity is now presumably soft-banned in the AFLW. The directive would also impede other position-based offensive tactics that rely on extra numbers further towards defence. The sling-shotting counter-attack into an open forward line (a la Pagan’s Paddock) relies on this type of set-up. It’s extremely old fashioned to think extra numbers in defence are always and purely about stopping scoring. That sort of take is worthy of boomer fans in the outer shouting JUST KICK IT. It doesn’t befit professional football administrators.

Moreover, though, we don’t think restricting field position at stoppages will stop clubs trying creative positioning as the situation demands. If you need extra players back for strategic or defensive reasons, why not just leave the two wings near half-back, half a metre to the lateral side of the corner of the centre square, then have them head straight backwards from there? Alternatively or in combination with this, why not set up purely defensively at the centre stoppage, even concede the ruck contest, in order to create a secondary ball-up where you can position players more freely?

At the cost of the image of the integrity of the competition, and a huge chunk of goodwill from AFLW fans, the directive seems a measure which may not actually stop coaches from doing what they need to do in order to win.


We are using a rudimentary model based on the HPN team strength ratings to get tips for the season ahead. For this week, we are blending 2017 team ratings with the ratings for last week. As a result, we don’t actually have a lot of faith in these tips, but why not chuck them up anyway!

  • Fremantle over Collingwood by 14.
  • Adelaide over Melbourne by 5.
  • GWS over Carlton by 3.
  • Western Bulldogs over Brisbane by 1.

HPN expects this tipping model to be slightly erratic until enough data about the 2018 season is gathered.

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