Brisbane players ahead of their match against St Kilda in R9, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

AS TEAMS fight for a place in finals, fascinating results and dramatic footy has been thrown up, in front of some huge crowds no less. 

Chloe Molloy's Swans got a big win over Collingwood, the Bombers stamped their finals credibility, and North Melbourne fell agonisingly short of besting Adelaide. 

Each Monday of the AFLW season, Gemma Bastiani will touch on a key talking point from each game, just in case you missed it. 

It's hard to win games when you can't win the footy 

Against Gold Coast on Friday evening, Greater Western Sydney simply couldn't get its hands on the footy. Losing the disposal count by 92 and the uncontested possession count by a whipping 70, the Giants were totally unable to find any sense of control in the game. To make matters worse, they were wholly susceptible to the Suns' pressure, using the footy they did win at just 57 per cent efficiency. A significant amount of effort is going toward standing strong in the contest in the absence of star Alyce Parker, who is out due to injury, and as a result they have lost the ability to protect the footy on the outside. The Suns enjoyed the time and space they were afforded, all but securing a second ever finals berth. 


The wind is your friend against Melbourne 

In still, dry conditions, Melbourne is able to tear sides up as the most skilful team in the competition, but difficult conditions – be that wind or rain – allow opponents to limit the damage on the scoreboard. Just the third team to best the Demons in two separate quarters this year, Fremantle played the breezy Casey Fields conditions well. Adapting both with the advantage of that wind, or when they were up against it, the Dockers forced Melbourne into a fair scrap for much of the game. While not an upset win for the visiting side, finding small wins throughout the match was crucial for the evolving Dockers, and there were certainly many of those. 


A lack of discipline cost the Lions 

Coming into the last quarter, with the breeze at their backs against a team that has been inconsistent late in games, the world was at Brisbane's feet. But poor discipline, both in their footy and reaction to opposition players, severely cost the Lions a chance to lock up a top four spot and contest for the McClelland Trophy. Not used to being on the back foot, the Lions got aggressive, lashing out at commentary from the Saints players, only getting more frustrated as the game wore on. Now needing to back up the horror loss with a Grand Final rematch against the high-flying Demons, things only get tougher for Brisbane heading into the last week of the home and away season. 


Bonnie Toogood is Essendon 

After a shock loss last week, where West Coast got the fast start against Essendon, co-captain Bonnie Toogood was on a mission, refusing to allow that to happen again. The star forward kicked the opening goal of the game – her 50th career goal – within three minutes and from there set an exceptionally high standard for her teammates. Finishing the game leading the Bombers for score involvements, intercepts, and marks, Toogood also kicked two goals from her 20 disposals. Surely on the cusp of her first All-Australian selection the star embodies everything Essendon wants to be. 


It's a win, but it's a season that cannot be ignored 

A sigh of relief was sent through the Western Bulldogs' camp after its eight-point win over West Coast on Saturday afternoon, breaking through for its first victory of the season. They did so under immense pressure, with a winless season looking more and more realistic and without several experienced players across the ground. Amidst the deserved celebrations, however, the Dogs cannot allow the win to paper over the large cracks that have been on show this year. Some serious change within the club's program will need to be made in the coming months if it is to leap back into finals calculations next year. 


Tigers hopes have been dashed 

With a decisive 38-point loss to Geelong on Saturday evening, Richmond's hopes of making back-to-back finals series are all but dashed. Now outside the final eight on both points and percentage, the top-four Tigers of season seven are long gone. Battling poor player availability all season has certainly hurt the side all year, dipping into its train on players twice already, but a real inefficiency going forward has hurt even more. Getting the ball forward just 19 times, and generating a shot on goal from just 36.8 per cent of those, Richmond's chemistry in attack simply hasn't clicked this year, and the absence of contested marking powerhouse Courtney Wakefield through retirement has been felt keenly. Going forward, while player fitness and depth will no doubt be a focus for Ryan Ferguson and his Tigers, finding connection in the front half should be priority No.1 as it looks to bounce back in 2024. 


The Swans have belief 

If the most significant win in Sydney's short history tells us anything, it is that the young side has a real belief about what it can achieve. Coming off a winless maiden season, the Swans are now sitting in the top eight with one game remaining in the home and away season thanks to an impressive victory over perpetual finalist Collingwood. Against her old side Chloe Molloy starred, but it was a genuine team performance focused on a particular game plan. Lucy McEvoy drove the ball out of defence, Sofia Hurley and Bec Privitelli bobbed up on the scoreboard and Tanya Kennedy worked tirelessly against the Pies' big guns in the midfield. It is a victory that will give the Swans all the confidence in the world heading to Fremantle next week. 


AFLW is a game of tiny moments 

The Kangaroos looked like they were ready to break through their mental barrier, leading Adelaide late in the game on Sunday afternoon. But a lapse in concentration here, some miscommunication there, and a potentially huge win on the road turns into a narrow loss on the scoreboard. The significance of the game was more than simply a mental game for the Roos, however, with a spot in the top two on the table with a win. Instead, they will be fighting to maintain their top four place next week against the Western Bulldogs, and will likely have to travel come week one of finals. 


Bates and Bodey, they're bloody good 

In an exciting tussle with a Port Adelaide side determined to jag a second win of the season, star recruits Emily Bates and Greta Bodey came to the fore. Bates' cleanliness with the footy, willingness to defend and footy smarts were topped off with her first goal in Hawks colours. Meanwhile Bodey was a world beater in attack. Kicking four goals for the game – two in the second quarter and two in the fourth – she was causing havoc for even the most experienced Port Adelaide defenders, and it was this duo that ultimately handed Hawthorn the win.