By Liam McAlary & Matt Green
The AFLW season has almost come to a close nearly as quickly as it started, with the 10 Round season simply not being long enough, but that’s a story for another day.
With one game to go, our girls are 3 wins – 6 loses. Now that may seem unimpressive, the Hawks contended with a brutal draw this season so it was going to be a challenge to get a lot of wins.
What have we seen?
There have been some tough losses for sure, as is to be expected from a young side.
Losing in Round 1 is always rough and we ran out of legs against the Tigers in Cairns, whilst back to back games against Melbourne and Brisbane showed us the levels we should be aspiring to.
However, we defeated the Western Bulldogs in Ballarat (a foundation team who made finals last year, despite a poor season this year) and beat the Power at Frankston last week.
Our women recorded their first interstate win against the Swans at Henson Park, Sydney.
We have seen incredible progression and development from a very young team this season, and it won’t be long until they are rising up the ladder.
Who has stood out?
The midfield duo have been exceptional this season, doing the grunt work in the middle and from all the players we’ve spoken to, Bates has really helped take training and preparation to another level.
Then, there is Talking Hawks’s own Jas Fleming, who has gone to another level this season.
The arrival of Bates has allowed Jas to get to the outside more and use her speed to burst away and drive us forward, although the biggest improvement from Fleming has been her ball use, with a disposal efficiency improvement from around 45% to over 56% in 2023.
Young defenders Mackenzie Eardley and Laura Elliott also have played multiple games worthy of nomination, with the young defenders showing that along with lockdown specialist Jenna Richardson, the backline looks set for a long time.
At the other end, Aine McDonagh has kicked 11 goals from 9 games to lead our goalkicking in her second season of competitive footy, with gun recruit Greta Bodey only one goal behind after kicking four on the weekend.
Quick shoutouts also need to go to Kaitlyn Ashmore, who has been sublime all season, Tamara Smith, who has become a vital small defender, and draftees Kristy Stratton and Mattea Breed, who have both impressed.
Firstly, we take on the Cats at GMHBA Stadium this Saturday at 5:05pm.
It is our last chance to watch our womens team this season and the last time we will see fan favourite Akec Makur Chout play, with the 31-year-old set to retire.
If you can get to Geelong this week, do it! The team love engaging with supporters, especially the kids and special bonds are being formed. The girls would love your support as they try and take the Cats out of the finals race.
Improvements to look out for
This week on a Hawks AFLW player sponsor zoom call, where Matt asked Emily Bates what supporters should look out for in terms of the AFLW team improvement next year.
Bates advised that the speed of ball movement, switching play to the fat side, which takes courage and confidence, as well as an increased work rate and urgency in defense are features that signal improvement.
The 2022 AFLW Best and Fairest winner is already drawing on her veteran experience from her Brisbane days, where Bates is helping instill the building of fitness year round and will lead the charge with running and pilates groups already being planned to see the group constantly pushing each other.
The AFLW program is turning into something special, and it won’t be long until we see Bec’s crew lifting up the premiership cup. Get on board!