AFLW – Rd1 Report
The stars of the competition were out to shine in the opening round of the new AFLW season over the weekend, as the biggest names in the game in Daisy Pearce, Tayla Harris and Katie Brennan all stamped their authority on early proceedings to lift their respective sides to victory.
The competition picked up right where last season left off in front of strong crowds right around the country, and it was an exceptionally positive start for AFL Europe’s Kate Shierlaw, Lauren Spark & Laura Corrigan-Duryea who all featured in the wins for their respective clubs, as GAA legend Cora Staunton also made headlines with her highly anticipated AFLW debut for the Giants.
Afleurope.org will be keeping a close eye on the progress of all five listed players with a connection to AFL in Europe right throughout the season, so stay tuned each week for updates on how each of the girls are tracking.
Cora Staunton – #13 – Greater Western Sydney Giants – Recruited from GAA
The Gaelic champion and Mayo stalwart Cora Staunton made the most anticipated debut of the round in the Giants game against Melbourne, and she certainly wasted no time in showing what she was capable of with the oval ball.
Playing across half-forward, Staunton became the first international recruit to hit the scoreboard after she showed some trademark dash to clear the pack and create enough space to have a snap on goal, which she duly converted with the composure of a ten-year veteran to give the Giants the lead early in the first quarter.
Staunton looked right at home throughout the game and took several strong marks while on the lead, but despite her best efforts the Giants were unable to hold the Demons out after a seesawing final quarter, with the home side kicking a late go-ahead goal to take the honours in the match of the round.
Her next assignment will come on Friday night (AEDT) as the Giants face fellow round one victors Carlton in Western Sydney.
GWS were defeated by Melbourne by 6 points
Laura Corrigan – #11 – Melbourne Demons – Irish Banshees Co-Captain (2017 International Cup)
As Staunton made her debut for the Giants, fellow Irishwoman Laura Corrigan was holding down the fort in defence for the highly-touted Demons and got her own new season off to the perfect start to follow her jam-packed 2017, helping her side see off a late charge from the visitors and claiming the round one points.
The Irish co-captain was typically uncompromising down back and was right in the thick of the action throughout the match and in the thrilling dying stages, as teammates Daisy Pearce, Elise O’Dea & Richelle Cranston produced strong performances to get the Demons across the line in the highest scoring game of the round.
It doesn’t get any easier for Corrigan and the Demons next week as they face the reigning premiers Adelaide at Casey Fields, with the Crows fresh from a tight loss in the Grand Final rematch against Brisbane and hungry to get their own season back on track.
Melbourne defeated GWS by 6 points
Lauren Spark – #11 – Western Bulldogs – Formerly Wimbledon Hawks (2015/16)
The Western Bulldogs were the big winners of the round with a 26-point victory over the Dockers at the Whitten Oval, with former Wimbledon Hawk Lauren Spark playing a key role alongside superstar teammates Ellie Blackburn & Katie Brennan as the Dogs got their season off to the perfect start.
Spark was lively throughout the match as she registered 11 disposals, but it was her big defensive play to stem the Fremantle momentum in the third quarter that was her shining moment. After two quick goals in succession, Fremantle surged forward once again and threatened to bring the margin back to an uncomfortable 16-points until Spark upstaged two opponents to take a strong contested mark deep in defence and halt the move.
From that point on the Dogs managed to keep the Dockers at bay and now head into next Sundays matchup in Brisbane sitting on top of the AFLW ladder for the first time.
Western Bulldogs defeated Fremantle by 26 points
Kate Shierlaw – #25 – Carlton Blues – Formerly Wimbledon Hawks (2016)
After missing the corresponding fixture last season, Kate Shierlaw was selected for the Blues Friday night blockbuster against Collingwood and stepped out onto Princes Park in front of 19,852 Melbournians hungry for their first foot fix of the year.
Shierlaw was in the action from the get go as the 186cm ruck/forward answered the Pies opening goal by kicking truly when given the opportunity from her own set-shot to register Carltons first goal of the season.
That early involvement proved decisive in the tight, low scoring affair, as the Blues took the lead shortly after and were never headed thanks to big games from Brianna Davey, Nicola Stevens and new-recruit Tayla Harris.
Shierlaw and The Blues travel to Western Sydney for another Friday night clash next week against the Giants, as they look to match their 2-0 start from 2017 and stamp their premiership credentials.
Carlton defeated Collingwood by 8 points
Lauren Tesoriero – #7 – Collingwood Magpies – Formerly Wandsworth Demons (2017)
Tesoriero was not selected in Collingwood’s 21 to face Carlton on the weekend but will be looking to push her case for inclusion to coach Wayne Siekman at training this week, ahead of the Pies round two clash at the brand new 60,000 seat Optus Stadium against Fremantle in Perth.