IN THE most chaotic round of AFLW yet, it was upsets galore, while the seemingly unbeatable was finally felled.
The round six results leave the ladder delicately poised for the last month of the home and away season, with four clubs on 16 points and a further six on 12, creating a logjam in the bottom half of the eight.
Each Monday of the AFLW season, Gemma Bastiani will touch on a key talking point from each game, just in case you missed it.
The 'Good Mood' combination is working wonders
Revealed by Carlton coach Mathew Buck last week that playing list has been calling the Jess Good/Breann Moody duo the 'Good Mood', it is a combination that has been key to the Blues' resurgence this year. In a career-best performance from Good on Friday night, she gathered 19 disposals, five clearances and kicked a goal playing largely against dangerous Bulldog Alice Edmonds, while Moody continued to offer a presence in the air. The emergence of former basketballer Good has allowed Buck to find more flexibility in his tall options, and it is working beautifully.
The future is in good hands
As Greater Western Sydney breathes a sigh of relief after snagging its first win of the season, footy fans across the country can look forward to the exciting young talent that was on show on Saturday. At one end of the ground for West Coast, Ella Roberts' marking prowess was eye-catching, with the teenager taking 10 marks for the game, four of which were contested, and kicking a goal. At the other end, it was Giants excitement machine Zarlie Goldsworthy kicking an impressive three goals from 17 disposals. Already big time players, they will only get better as they continue to develop, meaning the competition is in safe hands.
Pressure is the key to beating Melbourne
Other clubs have shown it in patches already this season, but Adelaide is the first side to bring a high-quality pressure game against Melbourne for long enough to claim the win. The Crows laid 87 tackles, the most conceded by the Demons since their season six preliminary final, and held the home side to their lowest goal efficiency of the season. By applying such immense pressure from siren to siren, Adelaide worried Melbourne into using the ball poorly and suffocated its forward line of the space and patience it has enjoyed this season to date. The blueprint to beat the Demons is there, but Adelaide is one of the few teams who can execute it for long enough to claim the points.
Nat Exon is back to her best
After a quiet few seasons from Nat Exon, she is back playing her best footy and the Saints are benefitting greatly. Stationed largely on the wing and pushing into attack this year, Exon is averaging 12.5 disposals – her best since 2019 – and has kicked four goals in her last three games. Quick thinking thanks to her eight seasons in the AFLW, Exon makes smart choices to capitalise on opportunities created by her emerging teammates, and her execution in front of goal has been a key part of St Kilda's club-record three game winning streak.
Bella Smith has come of age
Arriving at Sydney in its inaugural list build last year after 10 games for Collingwood, Bella Smith had the potential to have a big impact thanks to her height and long kick. Needed in defence last season, she played every game in a reliable but not showy style. This year, however, a switch into attack has worked wonders for the 22-year-old. Smith has kicked four goals in the last three weeks, and against Port Adelaide on Saturday afternoon, her physical presence and attack at the footy across half forward late in the game was crucial to her Swans taking the win. Standing at 182cm, Smith looks likely to create a formidable partnership with Bec Privitelli up forward for years to come.
Brisbane is its own worst enemy
Based on the stat sheet alone, the Lions should be pleased with how they performed against Collingwood on Saturday evening, save for a disappointing return at goal. Kicking just three goals from 13 scoring shots, Brisbane simply couldn't make the most of its 30 inside 50s and eight marks inside the attacking arc. To Collingwood's credit, it was able to punish the Lions at the other end of the ground, kicking five goals from its own eight scoring shots, but Brisbane will no doubt be ruing such a missed opportunity as the ladder squeezes tighter.
No outside game, no Geelong
As both Melbourne and Essendon have proven in the past fortnight, if teams are able to take away Geelong's clean outside ball movement, the Cats struggle to post a winning score. Against the Bombers on Sunday afternoon, the Cats lost the uncontested possession count by 15 and used the ball at a season-low 61.9 per cent efficiency. By taking away Geelong's ability to use the ball in space, the high-scoring, dominant side of a month ago can be totally shut down.
Tara Bohanna leads by example
Leading a Gold Coast side that refuses to give up in 2023, the biggest moment of the game came from the boot of Suns captain Tara Bohanna. As the Tigers were threatening to steal the match, Gold Coast worked the ball into Bohanna's hand nearly 50 metres out from goal. As the siren sounded, Bohanna's kick sailed through for the point they needed to win their fourth game of the season. It is clutch wins like this that hold the Suns in good stead as they push for a second ever finals series, unwilling to give up right until the final siren.
It doesn't take long for the Roos to hurt you
Up by 10 points at half time, North Melbourne ultimately beat Fremantle by 45 points in the west on Sunday afternoon. Five goals off the boot of Tahlia Randall, three of which came in the second half, did the bulk of the damage, but the Roos enjoyed goals from five different players. The Roos kicked six goals to none in the second half to show again that once they get momentum, they are mighty hard to stop. Much of that is driven by powerhouse midfield trio Ash Riddell, Jasmine Garner and Jenna Bruton, who combined for 94 disposals, 21 tackles and 13 clearances on Sunday, which the Dockers simply didn't have the power to stop.