L-R: Aishling Moloney, Laura Gardiner, Ashleigh Saint. Pictures: AFL Photos

FOLLOWING a busy off-season player movement period, the opening three rounds of the 2023 AFLW season has given the world a look at how different players have impacted their new sides.

While some players have made the switch from a different side and now rep new colours, others earned their first crack at AFLW level this season and shone. Five players in particular have encouraged improvement for their clubs over the opening three rounds of the season.

Harriet Cordner (Carlton)

The arrival of Harriet Cordner at Carlton couldn't have been more aptly timed, given captain Kerryn Peterson's absence early in the season. On her return from an ACL injury, Cordner, who is now at her third AFLW club, is averaging career-highs in some key stats. 

With Cordner's assistance, the Blues are averaging 53 intercepts per game – marginally up on last season's average even without Peterson in the side.

Carlton, despite significant off-season change, has managed to win two of its first three games and although there are certainly still kinks to work through, Cordner has been a significant reason why the Blues are in the position they are.

Harriet Cordner in action during the AFLW R3 match between Carlton and West Coast at Mineral Resources Park on September 16, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Ashleigh Saint (Port Adelaide)

Ashleigh Saint's move across town to Port Adelaide was one of the more significant changes ahead of the season. Bidding goodbye to the Crows, with whom she won a premiership and was their leading goalkicker in back-to-back seasons, her experience up forward has been important for a developing Port Adelaide side.

Fitting in seamlessly to a newly healthy Power attack, Saint has contributed significantly to the side's ability to score. She has kicked four goals across the opening three rounds – already equal with the highest individual goalkickers for the side last season – and is averaging a career-high 1.7 marks inside 50.

Port Adelaide's improved attack


2022 (S7)


Shot Efficiency (%)



Goal Efficiency (%)



Average Inside 50s



Average Points For



As a result of Port Adelaide's improved efficiency in attack, it is averaging nearly two goals more per game than it did last season, and much of that is thanks to Saint's presence inside 50 this season.

Ashleigh Saint in action during the AFLW R3 match between Port Adelaide and St Kilda at RSEA Park on September 17, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Laura Gardiner (Sydney)

Last year in its inaugural season, Sydney struggled to win the footy and, as a result, find control in games. Much of this was down to an inability to get first hands on the ball at the source: stoppages.

Sydney's improved presence on the ball


2022 (S7)


2022 (S7) differential v. opposition

2023 differential v. opposition

Avg Clearances





Avg Contested Possessions





Avg Uncontested Possessions





Avg Inside 50s





Avg Tackles





Laura Gardiner's addition to the Swans' midfield has allowed the side a stronger presence at the footy thanks to her ability to win the ball and also offering a defensive presence. It is around her that Sydney's midfield can now operate, with her consistency allowing the likes of Chloe Molloy, Sofia Hurley and Montana Ham to shine. 

This was epitomised by her 41-disposal, nine-tackle performance against Brisbane on Sunday.

Laura Gardiner in action during the AFLW R3 match between Sydney and Brisbane at Brighton Homes Arena on September 17, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Aishling Moloney (Geelong)

With experienced forward Shelley Scott managing a calf injury and yet to appear for the Cats this season, fresh face Aishling Moloney has filled the gap beautifully in attack.

Although without Scott, Geelong has been able to maintain its shot efficiency (the number of shots on goal per inside 50) that made it so dangerous last season. This is partly a result of the presence Moloney offers up forward.

Geelong in attack


2022 (S7)


Avg Shot Efficiency (%)



Avg Inside 50s



Avg Points For



Moloney's marking ability is one thing, averaging 3.3 per game so far this year, but her follow-up at ground level has been equally impressive. Averaging 3.3 score involvements, 3.3 tackles and eight disposals, she might not hit the scoreboard as often as her teammates, but she forces opposition defences to be accountable to her. Because of this, teammates like Jackie Parry and Chloe Scheer can find more time and space, allowing them to be more damaging.

Aishling Moloney (R) and Chloe Scheer celebrate a goal during the AFLW R2 match between Geelong and Sydney at North Sydney Oval on September 9, 2023. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

Matilda Scholz (Port Adelaide)

Still just 18 years old, Matilda Scholz has really helped to solidify Port Adelaide's aerial game over the opening rounds of the season. She has taken on the No.1 ruck role for the side and won 58 hitouts – 12th most in the competition – to set her midfield up. The next-highest hitout winner at the Power this year has been Indy Tahau with nine.

Her aerial presence extends further than just her tapwork, too, as she averages 3.3 marks, 1.7 of which are contested, while at ground level she is also averaging 4.3 tackles.

Port Adelaide's consolidation


2022 (S7)


Avg Clearances



Avg Hitouts



Avg Contested Marks



Avg Marks



Scholz has offered the Port Adelaide midfield neat service, and thanks to her contested marking adds a link between lines to aid its transition into attack.