Jess Bates runs with the ball during the VFLW qualifying final between Collingwood and Port Melbourne. Picture: Kelly Defina/AFL Photos

After slipping down the table last year, Collingwood returned to the rebel VFLW big stage in 2023 led by the recruit of the year Jess Bates.


Position: 2nd (after finals)
W-L-D (%): 11-6 (129.8%)
Players used: 39
Played every match: 5 – Jess Bates, Monique DeMatteo, Elizabeth Jackson, Sarah King and Matilda Zander
AFLW players used: 6 (14 matches)
Debutants: 12 – Jess Bates, Imogen Evans, Lara Hausegger, Therese McCafferty, Eleri Morris, Evangelia Nikolitsis, Emily Shepherd, Ella Southgate, Rianna Thiele, Jazmyn Tweddle-O’Donnell, Alyssa Weston and Alyssa Whiley


Best and Fairest: 1st: Jessica Bates, 2nd: Elizabeth Jackson, 3rd: Rene Caris, 4th: Nyakoat Dojiok, 5th: Caitlin Bunker
Lambert-Pearce Medal votes: Jessica Bates (13), Nyakoat Dojiok (10), Monique De Matteo (5), Sarah King (5)
Coaches MVP votes: Jessica Bates (101 – winner), Nyakoat Dojiok (30), Matilda Zander (17)
VFLW Team of the Year representatives: Jessica Bates, Nyakoat Dojiok
Goalkickers: Monique De Matteo (18), Nyakoat Dojiok (16), Jessica Bates (11)


(Averages – Minimum 6 matches)

Disposals: Jessica Bates (26.6), Evangelia Nikolitsis (16.1), Elizabeth Jackson (15.2)
Kicks: Jessica Bates (15.7), Matilda Zander (12.1), Elizabeth Jackson (9.6)
Handballs: Jessica Bates (10.9), Evangelia Nikolitsis (7.6), Elizabeth Jackson (5.5)
Marks: Katelyn Lee (2.6), Nyakoat Dojiok (2.5), Evangelia Nikolitsis (2.4)
Tackles: Jessica Bates (10.3), Caitlin Bunker (9.1), Matilda Zander (5.8)
Hitouts: Sarah King (20.9), Rene Caris (19.7), Jessica Tweddle-O’Donnell (1.2)
Clearances: Jessica Bates (8.2), Evangelia Nikolitsis (4.3), Matilda Zander (3.6)
Inside-50s: Jessica Bates (3.1), Caitlyn Bunker (2.7), Evangelia Nikolitsis (2.6)
Rebound-50s: Nicole Hales (3.0), Katelyn Lee (2.4) Georgia Ricardo (2.4)

Nyakoat Dojiok kicks during the VFLW second semi final between Collingwood and Essendon at Victoria Park. Picture: Graham Denholm/AFL Photos


Jess Bates. The SANFLW star arrived in Melbourne to test herself in the VFLW and she tore the competition to shreds. Bates averaged 26.6 disposals per game and also led the Magpies for tackles (10.3), clearances (8.2) and inside-50s (3.1). She won the VFLW Coaches MVP by the length of the straight and was pipped by just one vote for the Lambert-Pearce Medal. From a team perspective, when the Magpies had to win, they mostly won. Overcoming a scoreless first quarter to hold Williamstown scoreless for the rest of the game was a positive for their mettle. They went on to claim the minor premiership and surged into the Grand Final before running into an inspired Port Melbourne on the biggest day of all.


The Magpies would be bitterly disappointed with the Grand Final defeat. Going in as favourites after easily beating the Borough in the qualifying final, they kicked the first goal but couldn’t go on with the job as their key forwards were shut out of the game. The Magpies did fight back to take the lead early in the third but it wasn’t to be their day. The loss to the Western Bulldogs in Round 10 was probably the upset of the season, although it didn’t end up costing them too much, while they also went down to arch-rival Carlton at home.


The Magpies won the minor premiership with virtually no contribution from their AFLW-listed players, with just six of them lining up and none playing more than first-year player Imogen Evans who featured in four games. Only one team (Carlton) outscored them in the home-and-away season, however the Magpies had the leakiest defence of the top eight teams, so that is something to work on. To make a Grand Final with that malaise shows they are capable of dominating the league as they did in 2021. All-in-all, plenty of positives to take out of the season.




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