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On Saturday afternoon the Hawthorn AFLW team played their last home game at Box Hill City Oval for the season in front of a small but passionate crowd against the Western Bulldogs in incredibly trying conditions.

Going into the match the Bulldogs were on a three-run streak, while the fledgling Hawks were holding up the foot of the ladder, with a small percentage due to the difficulties of kicking a score against more experienced teams.

While the final score read as a victory to the experienced and classy Bulldog outfit by 5 goals, the fight and heart that the team showed to continue to stick to the game plan and to attack the ball were phenomenal.

Having not won a game this year and coming up against a team known for their ability to control the ball and score freely, the team used a different game plan to start the day. In the first quarter under some incredibly arduous conditions, the team attempted to play a controlled game plan, where taking marks and controlling the ball was the aim

This type of game plan in torrential rain is incredibly difficult to pull off. Someone should have told that to the girls, as during the first quarter they had recorded 16 marks to one, taking control of the game and not allowing the Bulldogs to get on a run.

The difference between the two teams during the game was the ability of the Bulldogs forward line to make opportunities out of nothing, with 3 of their 6 goals coming from fortuitous snap kicks, while the Hawthorn team continued to try and find targets closer to home. 

During the second quarter, after Kaitlyn Ashmore converted beautifully from a contested mark, the Hawks took three marks inside of 50 metres but were unable to convert the pressure that they had been building.

Kirsty Lamb of the Bulldogs and Tilly Lucas-Rodd and Kaitlyn Ashmore of the Hawks exchange gifts during the 2022 S7 AFLW Round 04 match between the...
In a nice touch, Tilly Lucas-Rodd and Kaitlyn Ashmore were in an Indigenous ceremony after the coin toss | Getty Images

The connection between the midfield and the forward line is still a work in progress, but there were some signs yesterday that the team is working towards rectifying those.

In the forward 50, the team took four marks for the game, whilst the Bulldogs took five marks. This might not seem substantial but shows that the team is looking for the best options to help them to kick a winning score.

This week, Lou Wotton used Aine McDonagh on debut and our utility in Aileen Gilroy to offer marking targets in the forward line, while both girls were able to use their speed to mow down opposition targets and make sure it was difficult to transition the ball out of their defence.

As Sarah Hosking said in commentary yesterday, we need to remember that this team in its infancy has only had a few short months to try and build combinations and connections that other clubs have had the luxury of building upon for many seasons.

The pressure and attack to defend without the ball were on full display yesterday, with the team winning the tackle count for the 4th time this season. The girls’ willingness to attempt a tackle and make it stick is first-rate and the hits were brutal, putting fear into the opposition players’ minds.

Bec Goddard, Senior Coach of the Hawks addresses her players during the 2022 S7 AFLW Round 04 match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the Carlton Blues...
Bec Goddard must be happy with the improvement but is still searching for that first win in the AFLW.

Tamara Smith tackled like a woman possessed, recording 13 tackles for the game, while as a team, each player contributed with at least a tackle in the 76 tackle count. 

In the midfield, David Mackay rotated seven different combinations through the 11 centre bounces on the day, for four centre clearances to the Hawks. 

The combination of Lucy Wales, Tilly Lucas-Rodd, Tamara Smith and Jasmine Fleming recorded two of those centre clearances out of five attempts.

The midfield this week had fantastic contributions from the experienced duo of skipper Tilly Lucas-Rodd and Kaitlyn Ashmore, who were ably supported by young draftees Jasmine Fleming, Bridget Deed and Charlotte Baskaran.

This week in the ruck, Lucy Wales was ably supported by Tegan Cunningham, meaning that she wasn’t asked to do the majority of the ruck work around the ground.

In total Hawthorn won only 25% of the hitouts (42-14), but only lost the clearances by seven (31-24), which shows the ability of our midfield combinations to read the opposition hit-out and work themselves into positions that enabled them to try and get first hands on the ball.

In defence, the team were led by the likes of the experienced Ainslie Kemp who recorded ten possessions and Jess Duffin, while young Mackenzie Eardley was a welcome addition after her late withdrawal in the Tigers game the previous week. 

Mackenzie continues to grow in confidence and show the makings of exceptional talent, using her speed and height to spoil and impact marking contests at will. With more game time to come this season and with another pre-season under her belt, the sky’s the limit for Big Mac in future years for Hawthorn.

Tegan Cunningham of the Hawks and Celine Moody of the Bulldogs compete for the ball during the 2022 S7 AFLW Round 04 match between the Hawthorn Hawks...
Mackenzie Eardley locked in a tight tussle with Celine Moody | Getty Images


Jasmine Fleming

Jasmine Fleming showed all yesterday why she is considered one of the favourites to take out the NAB Rising Star Award as she had a breakout game in just her fourth game at the top level. 

Jas collected 25 touches, three tackles and six clearances while attending ten out of the 11 centre bounces throughout the match. 

Jasmine continues to shine brightly and shows why the Hawks were so keen to use their first pick of the draft to take the passionate Hawthorn supporter.

Tilly Lucas-Rodd

The skipper was a leading light for the young team against an experienced and classy midfield. TLR had 19 touches, six clearances and five tackles against the Dogs. Tilly plays well above her 163 cms and took three marks yesterday, which was her best this season.

Aileen Gilroy

Aileen started the match at high half forward but used her incredible tank and running prowess to make sure she could meaningfully impact the game. Gilly had 19 touches, three tackles and a clearance as she continues to show what a valued acquisition she has been to this Hawthorn team.

Kaitlyn Ashmore of the Hawks celebrates a goal with teammates during the 2022 S7 AFLW Round 04 match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the Carlton Blues...
Delight for Kaitlyn Ashmore as she kicked the maiden goal for the Hawks on Saturday | Getty Images

Kaitlyn Ashmore

While Kaitlyn’s running prowess has never been doubted, in yesterday’s tough and trying conditions, she was able to still use her strength to stretch the opposition’s defence in the mud at Box Hill City Oval. 

Kaitlyn kicked our only goal for the game, having run to space and taking a great contested mark. Kash was also able to record sixteen disposals, and seven tackles, plus taking three marks in another fantastic effort.

Charlotte Baskaran

Charlotte continues to show poise and composure through congestion, making it easy to forget that she was playing only her 4th game in the AFLW. The Western Jets product recorded 14 touches, five tackles and three clearances while attending four centre clearances. 

Baskaran continues to show that over the next few years, our midfield will only get better with more game time.

Jess Duffin

Our former Australian cricket player had her best game of the season for the Hawthorn team, playing a steady roll down back to assist our defensive unit. 

Duff had 11 touches, took four marks and made two tackles in a superb game that showed the worth of her experience on our young and developing backline. 

Akec Makur Chuot

Fan favourite Akec had a brilliant game on the weekend. Starting in her customary defensive position, she was able to use her speed and height to spoil marking contests. 

After halftime, Akec was rolled up onto the wing and then into the half-forward area, where she was able to have a profound impact. Akec recorded 16 touches, three marks, two tackles and three clearances in another impressive display from the former Tiger.

In the words of Brendan Bolton, the green shoots are well and truly on display as our young team continues to develop and build towards their first win of the season.

This coming Friday, Hawthorn takes on the Sydney Swans at the Swinburne Centre at Punt Rd in a game that is the team’s best chance of securing their first win of the season. 

Let’s paint Punt Rd brown and gold this Friday as we watch our young team of developing stars hopefully secure their inaugural victory in the AFLW, which would be just reward for the heart, passion and endeavour that these girls display every time they pull on the Hawthorn guernsey.

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