Carlton and Collingwood were criticised for their lack of goals — but things improved as the round went on. (AAP: Hamish Blair)
For those who loved the AFLW last year, the off-season seemed to go forever, so thank goodness we can finally get back to talking about some football.
There was plenty to take out of the opening week of football — so here are five things we learned from round one.
Teams take a step forward in scoring
Top scorers from round one
The pressure was always going to be on for season two of the AFLW, as pundits and fans watched closely to see if the league could match or build on its successes from a spectacular opening year.
In particular, all eyes would be on the players’ ability to kick goals, following criticism of low scoring in last year’s competition.
When Carlton and Collingwood offered a combined five goals in the first match of the new season, the rumblings grew.
But it didn’t take long for the players to respond. The Demons and Giants produced 13 goals in a ripping contest at Casey Fields, and while the Crows and Lions combined for seven goals in a tight contest on Saturday evening, the round ended with a 10-goal match between the Bulldogs and the Dockers.
Overall, there were 35 goals kicked in four matches, compared to 28 in round one, 2017. There’s still plenty of room for improvement — and attackers will need to get sharper in front of goal — but that’s a solid start.
Trial and error as Giants try to tag Pearce
Season one of the AFLW was mostly about team pressure all over the ground rather than targeting particular players.
In week one of season two, GWS came up against a Melbourne team featuring big names such as Daisy Pearce and Mel Hickey. They chose to try to lock down Pearce, and gave Britt Tully the job.
She responded by shadowing Pearce and not allowing her to dominate — the Melbourne skipper had six touches to half-time, but she was kept relatively quiet as GWS led by nine points at the main break.
Tully ended up with 13 disposals and 11 tackles, but Pearce did get off the leash — particularly in the final quarter — to finish with 19 possessions as the Demons got the win.
However other teams may look at the Giants’ experiment and opt to tag against AFLW stars.
Brennan’s return makes Dogs more dangerous
AFL Women’s tweet: @KatieBrennan16 kicked three goals in the first half against the @freodockers
Last season was a frustrating one for the Western Bulldogs, who were fancied to give the grand final a nudge with the likes of star skipper Katie Brennan leading the way.
Unfortunately for the Dogs, an ankle injury ended Brennan’s year after just two games, and the team finished sixth with five losses out of seven games.
Brennan returned for round one against Fremantle, and she was extremely impressive. She gave the Dogs a marking target, read the play well and booted three goals by the 10-second mark of the second term to put her team on the road to victory.
There is a lot more to like about the Dogs this season — Ellie Blackburn had a huge game with 23 disposals and a goal, Bonnie Toogood had her moments up forward, kicking a final quarter goal — and last year’s number one draft pick Isabel Huntington showed excellent early signs.
In short, things are promising for the women from the West, but a lot will depend on whether Brennan stays healthy.
More AFL first-timers make an impact
ARFLI Womens tweet: GOAl for Cora Staunton in the first quarter of AFLW 2.0! Not a bad way to start the debut! #aflw #arfliw
As a code-hopper, Ireland’s Cora Staunton leaves the likes of Jarryd Hayne in the shade.
The woman from county Mayo has won four all-Ireland football titles, as well as an FAI Cup (Ireland’s version of the FFA Cup) medal in soccer and she has played rugby in the Connacht Women’s League in western Ireland.
So when the opportunity came up to give AFLW a try with GWS, she jumped at it.
There were some issues in her first match — Staunton was extremely lucky not to get pinged for running too far after appearing to run a good half-dozen steps over the limit.
However she kicked one goal and could have had another, giving the Giants a solid option up forward.
In the Adelaide v Brisbane match Ruth Wallace — a former W-League and Junior Matildas soccer player — and ex-basketballer Eloise Jones also showed why they will be excellent pick-ups for the Crows.
And in the final match of the round, Monique Conti had a solid match for the Western Bulldogs, two weeks after participating in the WNBL grand final for the Melbourne Boomers. Look for more stories like these as the season progresses.
Lions must look past Frederick-Traub
Sabina Frederick-Traub can be a game-changer for the Lions, but Brisbane must not be too predictable in using her going forward. (AAP: Roy Vandervegt)
For Brisbane, round one was a form of vindication, with a win over Adelaide in the grand final rematch at Norwood Oval.
The five-point loss in the decider at Carrara has burned for the Lions ever since, so to be able to go to their rivals’ home ground and get the win was a perfect start to season two.
There were few surprises in Brisbane’s main choice of target up forward against Adelaide — marquee player Sabina Frederick-Traub was again the go-to player.
It has to be said, however, that while Frederick-Traub provides an elite marking target for Brisbane, her goal-kicking is not at the same level.
Against the Crows she took 10 marks and had 14 disposals in a powerful display — but despite a number of chances she kicked 0.3 for the day.
The Lions would be delighted with their win, but they must remember to change the focus occasionally and use smaller targets like Jess Wuetschner, Kate Lutkins, Brittany Gibson and Kate McCarthy — otherwise rival teams will work them out.
Sports Nut tweet: After the Doggies win this afternoon over Freo by 26 points this is how the #AFLW ladder looks after round 1