A career best performance by Sarah Rowe would headline an enthralling round five of AFLW action for our five Irish players.
It was a defining round five of AFLW action over the weekend, with all five of the Irish players again featuring in crucial matches across the country.
With round four showing the rapid development of the Irish players and their brilliant ability to adapt to our game, this weekend would again put smiles on the faces of international recruiters around the league as they provided a number of highlights.
Collingwood’s Sarah Rowe continues to go from strength to strength as she produced a career best performance in the Magpies heartbreaking 5-point loss to old Rivals Carlton at Ikon Park.
Playing in one of the hardest positions in Australian football as a high half forward, Rowe was pivotal all night for Collingwood as she ignited a lot of her sides attacking movement and provided X-Factor inside the forward 50 through her frenetic forward pressure.
She would end up collecting 13 disposals and five marks in a trademark half forward flank performance, with her ability to work hard and present an option for her teammates mirroring that of star Adelaide Crows forward Tom Lynch.
Along with her ability to find the ball, Rowe would prove herself to be up to the big moments, as we saw her convert from a free kick on the three-quarter time siren to give her side a vital ten-point lead.
It would be a tough day for Cora Staunton and Yvonne Bonner’s GWS Giants, as they failed to recapture the form which brought them a breakthrough first win of the season last week against Collingwood.
Playing through the midfield, veteran Staunton would again prove to be a bright spot for the Giants as she battled hard to claim a season high 16 disposals to go along with four tackles in a well-rounded display.
Staunton’s toughness around the contest would be a particular highlight of her game, as she was often found at the bottom of the pack battling hard to get the ball moving forward for her team.
On a tough day for GWS forwards, Bonner continued to work tirelessly as she again proved to be the vocal point inside 50 for the Giants.
Challenged by a stout Melbourne defence, the X-Factor of Bonner was still on show for all to see as she picked up 11 disposals & four marks.
Exerting little pieces of brilliance throughout the day, it seems as if whenever the ball is around Bonner good things happen, with her feel for the game and danger around goal remarkable for someone five weeks into her professional career.
Despite the best efforts of Bonner and Staunton, the Giants were simply overawed by a diligent Melbourne outfit as they dominated from start to finish to run out impressive 39-point victors.
Over in the West, Aisling McCarthy’s Western Bulldogs would fall short in an intriguing contest against Fremantle, putting a sizeable dent in the reigning premiers’ finals aspirations.
Playing her fourth game of senior football, McCarthy is looking more comfortable by the minute as she forges a role for herself inside the Dogs attacking 50.
Renowned for her pace and athleticism, McCarthy’s pressure was outstanding all day as she worked tirelessly to pester the Dockers defenders whilst also claiming eight disposals for herself.
Her improved skills were also on display for all to see as the young Bulldogs executed the perfect 35-meter set shot early in the second quarter, judging the conditions to perfection and connecting with the ball beautifully.
After a tight first half, the Dockers would pull away in a devastating second half to run out 18-point winners in a crucial conference A matchup.
Hyped up as the game of the season, Ailish Considine’s Adelaide Crows continued their hot form to hand North Melbourne their first AFLW loss and climb up to pole position in the hotly contested conference A.
Playing a new role up forward, it would be a learning curve for young Considine at the Avalon Airport Oval in Werribee as she only managed the two disposals.
However, playing in the competitions best side at the moment, Considine’s constant pressure and presence would see her slot into the Adelaide forward system well, with a brilliant smother off the boot of a North defender late in the second term showing her determination.
Standing alongside stars such as Erin Phillips, Stevie-Lee Thompson, Chelsea Randall, Ebony Marinoff and Anne Hatchard, Considine is playing a very selfless role for the Crows who are now eyeing off a second AFLW flag in three years.
With only two rounds remaining until finals, the stakes for our Irish players in the AFLW are at an all-time high as all five players hope to experience a taste of finals footy in the coming weeks.
By Zac Standish