Williamstown took a massive stride forward in 2023 to reach its first rebel VFLW finals appearance having never previously won more than two matches in a season.
BY THE NUMBERS
Position: 5th (after finals)
W-L-D (%): 9-6 (125.4%)
Players used: 37
Played every match: 8 – Teagan Brett, Sarah Cameron, Ellie Cleland, Emily Eaves, Madeline Edwards, Nicole Julian, Lori Stepnell and Sharnie Whiting
AFLW players used: 2 (10 matches)
Debutants: 5 – Zoe Day, Eloise Freeman, Brittney Gray, Natasha Phipps and Sarah Thomas
Best and Fairest: 1st: Emily Eaves, 2nd: Maddie Edwards, 3rd: Sharnie Whiting, 4th: Sarah Cameron, 5th: Jasmine Kawa
Lambert-Pearce Medal votes: Emily Eaves (12), Sharnie Whiting (8), Jasmine Kawa (7), Eliza Straford (7)
Coaches MVP votes: Emily Eaves (61), Jasmine Kawa (44), Sharnie Whiting (32)
VFLW Team of the Year representatives: Sarah Cameron, Emily Eaves and Sharnie Whiting
Goalkickers: Sarah Cameron (19), Sharnie Whiting (14), Teagan Brett (11)
(Averages – Minimum 6 matches)
Disposals: Jasmine Kawa (16.7), Emily Eaves (15.3), Sharnie Whiting (14.9)
Kicks: Sharnie Whiting (12.5), Jasmine Kawa (10.6), Nicole Julian (10.1)
Handballs: Sarah Thomas (7.2), Emily Eaves (7.1), Ellie Cleland (6.4)
Marks: Sarah Cameron (3.5), Jasmine Kawa (3.1), Sharnie Whiting (2.2)
Tackles: Sarah Thomas (8.6), Maddie Edwards (7.7), Emily Eaves (5.6)
Hitouts: Jasmine Kawa (12.5), Lori Stepnell (3.9)
Clearances: Jasmine Kawa (5.0), Emily Eaves (4.7), Sarah Thomas (3.4)
Inside-50s: Emily Eaves (3.1), Sharnie Whiting (2.8), Megan Williamson (2.8)
Rebound-50s: Sharnie Whiting (3.2), Danica Pedersen (2.8), Jasmine Kawa (2.3)
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Where do we start? A simply magnificent performance from the Seagulls to qualify for the finals for the first time. Having never previously won more than two games in any previous season, Liam Cavanagh brought his magic touch from Coburg and engineered nine victories from their last 11 matches to finish third on the ladder at the end of the home and away season. Sarah Cameron won the Rohenna Young Medal as the competition’s leading goalkicker and Sydneysider Emily Eaves finished just two votes off the pace in the Lambert-Pearce Medal. They defeated Box Hill Hawks, Geelong and Southern Saints for the first time in their history and also knocked off eventual premier Port Melbourne on its home deck.
WHAT WENT WRONG
Losing the first three games left the Seagulls behind the eight-ball in the early part of the season until they bedded down their new game plan. The Round 1 game against Collingwood when they failed to score after quarter-time would have been particularly disappointing. Losing their elimination final to Carlton after finishing in third spot and earning a home game against a team they had beaten convincingly twice during the season would also leave them with a bit of a hollow feeling as they would feel they should have won that and at least made a prelim.
So much to get excited about at DSV Stadium. As mentioned above, winning nine games after previously never saluting more than twice is a massive step forward for a young club and notching up a suite of firsts will give them plenty of confidence heading into 2024. They had their best player and reigning best and fairest winner Ruby Tripodi drafted by North Melbourne after Round 2 and still went on to produce such a successful season. If they’d beaten Carlton in the elimination final it would nearly have been a 10/10 effort.