On Sunday afternoon the Hawthorn AFLW team took on the Tigers at the Swinburne Centre, formerly known as Punt Rd Oval, in front of a sell-out crowd.
Although the Hawthorn team had not yet recorded a victory and playing away from home, the crowd was full of brown and gold, which is a fantastic reminder that the supporters are fully behind the Family Club now being complete.
While the scoreline read as a victory to the Tigers by just under 6 goals, the effort that was on display from the girls was first class, with the game being much tighter than the final scores reflected.
The difference at the end of the day was combinations and fluency in attack, which is an area that the Hawthorn team are continuing to develop in their infancy year, whereas the Tigers team have had longer together to gel and understand the game plan.
Bec Goddard highlighted after the game that she “couldn’t fault the effort” and that is the case as the Hawks were up against it from before the siren sounded to begin the match.
In the warm-up, Hawthorn lost young tall defender Mackenzie Eardley to injury, meaning that the team dynamics were disrupted. After the injury to Eardley, Laura Elliott became the 4th player to debut on the day for the AFLW team along with Bridie Hipwell, Ainslie Kemp and Isabelle Porter.
The pressure that was displayed throughout the game was first class and is a real calling card of the fledgling Hawks under coach Goddard.
In total throughout the game, Hawthorn recorded 80 tackles, which is a phenomenal effort, led by Aileen Gilroy, Kaitlyn Ashmore and Tilly Lucas-Rodd, who recorded 12 and eight tackles respectively.
Out of the 21 players who played on the weekend, all players recorded at least one tackle, which shows that the team have brought into the game plan and is working hard without the ball to stop the opposition from having easy disposals.
The fight and will of the team to compete against a more mature team who had more AFLW experience was exemplified through the courageous efforts of Tamara Smith in the 2nd quarter, where she went back with the flight of the ball and was poleaxed at half back.
This drive and determination to compete and not let their teammates down were evident from all players throughout the match.
The midfield coach of David Mackay had 5 different rotations that were used throughout the match at centre bounces, with the combination of Lucy Wales, Tilly Lucas-Rodd, Jasmine Fleming and Tamara Smith attending five centre bounces for a 60% clearance success rate.
Backline Coach Brady Grey saw the backline compete well against taller marking targets who saw 34 entries into their forward line. Akec Makur Chuot was able to play as the 3rd tall defender, which allowed her to impact the play and interrupt marking contests throughout the match, while Catherine Brown continued to use her left leg to good effect, making over 300 metres from her 10 touches.
Ainslie Kemp’s introduction to the backline stopped a certain goal where she ran from 40 metres away to spoil a marking contest. Less than a minute later, Kemp smothered a kick out from the Tigers’ defence, which resulted in a goal to Charlotte Baskaran.
Forward coach Lou Wotton had the services of Tegan Cunningham as a key forward and gave the forward line another tall option to kick towards in the forward 50. The Hawks were able to enter the forward 50 on 28 occasions but were only able to register one mark in the attacking zone.
As the season progresses, it will be fantastic seeing the connection between the midfield and forwards continue to evolve as they continue to develop and hone their understanding of each other’s games.
The skipper continues to shine as an experienced midfielder in our vastly inexperienced side. TLR had 17 touches, seven clearances and eight tackles against the Tigers, showing her willingness to impact the contest and to lead through her actions. She never shirked from a tough contest and was pivotal in many one-on-one contests in the middle of the ground against the likes of Monique Conti and Sarah Hosking, making sure to disrupt and hinder the Tigers’ attack.
Jasmine continues to grow in front of our eyes and excel as a first-class midfielder in only her 3rd game. Jas had 12 composed and measured touches through the midfield that led to 3 inside 50s and 3 clearances, whilst attending all centre bounces on the day. With Jasmine continuing her upward trajectory and building on her midfield nous at the highest level, it won’t be long before we refer to her father, cricketing great and Hawthorn tragic Damien Fleming, as the father of the Rising Star award winner Jasmine.
Wales was left to do most of the ruck work throughout the match, with Tegan Cunningham doing the ruck work in the forward 50. Lucy, who was playing in her third game, was able to amass 13 touches, 20 hit-outs, seven tackles and two rebounds while attending all 12 centre bounces.
Aileen was everywhere throughout the game, working her way through the wings, the midfield and even finding herself in defence. Her efforts throughout the day saw her accumulate 17 touches which resulted in 536 metres gained, three inside 50s, four rebound 50s and reach a team-high 12 tackles. Aileen must be sponsored by Energizer due to her immense work rate throughout the day.
Kaitlyn Ashmore’s running ability was on full display this week with her ability to work from one end of the ground to the other allowing her to tally 13 touches, eight tackles, two inside 50s and three rebound 50s, which showcases the effort that Kash goes to assist both the midfield and defence.
Charlotte was given the task of playing the majority of the game in the midfield and in her 3rd game at the highest level was able to have a solid output that showed her tenacity in the contest. She had 13 impactful touches of the leather, along with five tackles and one rebound 50, as well as kicking her first goal at the AFLW level with a long-range effort.
While the team didn’t come away with the four points against a more polished Tigers team, it is evident that our young team is building confidence in their ability to match it with some of the AFLW’s best and this will continue to help their will to compete as the season continues.
This weekend we see the team back at Box Hill City Oval against the undefeated Western Bulldogs team. It will be a perfect opportunity to continue to see our fledgling Hawks taking on the might of the competition and showing all the effort, heart and endeavour that is making them an enjoyable team to watch