In their last home game for their inaugural season, Hawthorn put up a spirited effort against the table-topping Brisbane Lions.
The girls took to Kinetic Stadium on Saturday night still with a sneaky chance of making finals and showed they were up for the fight with some courageous plays inside the first few minutes.
Young defender Laura Elliott went back with the flight of the ball and was absolutely poleaxed by a rampaging Lions forward.
Laura dusted herself off and rather than be deterred by the physicality of the Lions team, she launched herself at a marking contest a few moments later, taking a huge contested grab from five deep.
A four goal deficit didn’t do justice to the efforts that the team had been displaying, with a few unlucky calls by the umpires leading to some dubious shots on goal.
The team were working overtime to get back and support their team mates and then pushing up field to create a target in attack.
After the quarter-time break, the girls came out with a renewed hunger for the contest and broke even for the quarter, with both sides scoring one goal.
Hawthorn’s goal was kicked by Jess Duffin, who was playing her last professional game of AFLW in Victoria, after a brilliant contested mark after a superb Tamara Smith kick into the forward line.
After half-time, the girls continued to play with heart and determination but were unable to keep the Lions midfield and forward line in check, as wave after wave of Brisbane attack meant that the scoreline ended up creeping out to the final margin.
For the first time this season, the girls lost the tackle count, but were still able to make an impressive 59 for the game.
The Tiny T’s in Tamara Smith and Tilly Lucas-Rodd led the way in the tackle count, making ten and eight tackles respectively.
This week 18 out of the 21 players made at least a tackle, showing the work rate of the team to keep fronting up defensively, despite the Lions having the majority of the ball throughout the evening.
After last week’s narrow loss against the Giants away from home, the team saw four changes to the lineup, with Bridie Hipwell and Emily Everist out of the line up, while Mackenzie Eardley was out with a fractured hand and Sophie Locke was unluckily omitted from the team.
The inclusions saw Tegan Cunningham back from a foot injury to play down back against Jesse Wardlaw, Dominique Carbone and Zoe Barbakos back to play as the mosquito fleet up forward, while Janet Baird made her debut for the team.
With Baird being selected in the team, it meant that Hawthorn had played all 30 players on their squad for the season, which is a wonderful effort by all the players to have earned selection for the club.
Brady Gray would have been content with the efforts of the backline, with Jenna Richardson, Ainslie Kemp, Catherine Brown, Laura Elliott, Tegan Cunningham and Eliza Shannon continuously under the pump throughout the game from the 39 inside 50’s that the Lions had.
The girls in the backline didn’t shirk the contest and continued to front up in every marking contest, doing their best to spoil and negate their opponents.
Midfield coach David Mackay tried four different combinations throughout the 14 centre bounces.
The combination of Lucy Wales, Tilly Lucas-Rodd, Charlotte Baskaran and Jasmine Fleming attended five centre bounces together, which was the most used on the day, with the quartet registering a 40% win rate from those centre bounces, as well as drawing another.
Elliott played with incredible courage on Saturday evening, including after being crunched in the first quarter. Elliott could have quite easily been shaken and unable to play her role for the team.
However, that’s not the Laura Elliott way.
Elliott continued to throw herself into marking contests and worked hard throughout the evening to record eight disposals, one mark and three tackles in her most impressive game in her short career.
Akec Makur Chuot
For the second week running, Chuot had her dancing shoes on.
After taking a one handed mark on the wing, she bamboozled her opponent with her silky skills to drive the team into attack.
Since moving to the wing, Chuot has been able to use her decision making and speed to assist the team and this was shown through her 17 disposals, two marks and four clearances on the evening.
Fleming continues to grow into her role as an exciting midfielder who will provide many highlights for Hawthorn over the years.
On Saturday evening, she wasn’t afraid to take on the Brisbane Lions midfield and wanted the pill in her hand in a wonderful display of youthful exuberance.
The Rising Star nominee ended the clash with 19 disposals, five tackles, two clearances and attended 11 out of 14 centre bounces.
Our captain continues to stand up week in and week out and is helping to lay the foundations for our young midfielders in terms of expectations and work rate.
TLR ended the contest with 13 disposals, eight tackles and two clearances, while attending 12 centre bounces
Smith continues to show her tenacity and endeavour in the contest on a weekly basis and this week was no different for one of our tackling machines.
She ended the night with ten tackles, seven disposals and one clearance, while attending 9 out of 14 Centre Bounces.
Our second NAB Rising Star Nominee continues to show why she was nominated as she pretty much rucked the entire contest by herself.
In only her ninth game of AFLW, Wales battled against older and more experienced rucks but never gave up throughout the night.
She ended the evening with 15 disposals, 10 hit-outs, four tackles and six clearances which was a phenomenal effort.
The Energiser Bunny herself lived up to the moniker through her incredible work rate on the evening.
Kash’s GPS stats would have been remarkable as she appeared to be everywhere on the park, roaming the wings, supporting in defence and pushing forward to offer a target in attack.
She had ten disposals, three marks and three tackles in another strong game.
Bec Goddard and the coaching group will have the team firing ahead of this weekend’s game against the 15th place Dockers and will want to end their season with a fourth victory in their inaugural season.