AFLW Round 1 – Carlton v Collingwood: Bobbleheads burst

In the lead-up to their AFLW season-opening clash with Collingwood, Carlton announced that the first 1000 entrants to IKON Park would receive a free bobblehead of captain Brianna Davey.


Admittedly, Davey does not have any particularly distinctive features with which an artist can work. Nonetheless, it was hard to excuse the finished product – it looked like Carlton had described their captain to the merchandise department over the phone.


Unfortunately, the bobbleheads – well-intentioned, poorly executed and bearing no resemblance to what the public wanted – were harbingers for the match that followed.


The skills were terrible. The game-plans were conservative at best, non-existent at worst. A crowd around five thousand smaller than its 2017 fixture was bored by game’s end. The PA system was muffled and shonky. One of the stadium lights blew in the final quarter.


It was an all-round disappointment.


The match got off to a good start as Collingwood hit the heavily favoured Blues hard and denied them easy forward movement. New Carlton faces Tayla Harris, Georgia Gee and Sophie Li had memorable quarters matched by fledgling Pies Chloe Molloy and Jaimee Lambert. Collingwood landed the first blow through Jas Garner before Kate Shierlaw and Harris replied for the Blues.


Carlton gained the upper hand early in the second quarter when Amazonian ruck Al Downie pulled down a strong mark in the goal square to extend the lead to 13 points. Collingwood’s Millie Barden spun from a pack to kick a goal out of nowhere halfway through the term aaaannnnnd that was it. For the next forty or so minutes, just four behinds were kicked between the two sides.


To describe the goalless second half? It was a 42-player contest in which 11 had no impact and everyone else just clogged the contest with poor ball movement. Safe to say no new converts to AFLW were recorded.



  1. Game planFor a side tipped to make a real tilt for the flag, Carlton was an unstructured rabble. Many of their stars had their colours lowered; given that she had the Blues’ most touches with 16, Brianna Davey was curiously low-impact. Darcy Vescio was scoreless, Lauren Arnell was virtually AWOL and Kate Gillespie-Jones allowed too many Pies to bully her at contests. With Tilly Lucas-Rodd, Reni Hicks and Bridie Kennedy waiting in the wings, expect the axe to swing before their Round 2 match against GWS.
    Collingwood chopped and changed all night, moving Hope, Lambert and Molloy around as the match progressed in an attempt to find a winning combination. Early in the match, the Magpies showed promise as they switched the ball through the wide spaces on the wings but uncharacteristic fumbles from Britt Bonnici, Caitlyn Edwards and Jasmine Garner up forward rendered their attacks fruitless.
  2. Stars on the blink?

    Once again, Collingwood’s Moana Hope is going to face speculation over her form. Having trimmed up noticeably over the pre-season to the point of starting in the midfield, Hope scrounged a measly six touches and once again went goalless. She almost never looked to mark on the hands, favouring chest marks that were easily spoiled. However, she was far from alone in either Collingwood’s clumsy forward line or Carlton’s. Blues’ vice-captain Lauren Arnell should feel the heat of public criticism this week after being the only player to go without a touch on Friday night.
  3. When defenders are B.O.G.

    With a game-high 20 disposals, Collingwood’s first round-pick Chloe Molloy was best afield by some distance. Unfortunately for spectators, the debutant was the Magpies’ full back so her contribution to the match was nullifying human highlight-reel Darcy Vescio, along with fellow first-gamer Iilish Ross, and just generally stopping anything interesting from happening. Her counterpart Gab Pound was Carlton’s most consistent player but she and fellow defenders Danielle Hardiman and Al Downie were helped by Collingwood’s lack of pressure that allowed their fumbles and skill errors to go unpunished.
  4. An ugly report

    Rarely does a player have a double brain-fade as severe as Collingwood forward Sarah D’Arcy did in the third quarter. D’Arcy sprayed a set shot out on the full from just 25 metres but was given a shot at a reprieve when she dived to intercept Danielle Hardiman’s kick-in. However, she spoiled her good work by savagely booting Sarah Hosking in the groin… with the umpire right there to call a free and take her number. She stands a very good chance of being suspended, tarnishing her reputation and worst of all, she made all the poor, innocent men watching feel very, very uncomfortable.
  5. Harris on the right track

    Let’s be real – plenty of people would have been ready to swoop in had key forward Tayla Harris flopped against Collingwood. As one of the high-profile players in AFL Women’s promotion and the biggest 2017 trade name, she has become a tall poppy. Admittedly, it didn’t help that she spent the entire VFLW season dedicating herself to boxing and just days out from Round 1 commented on the relatively “chilled” environment at the Brisbane Lions.
    However, Harris was worth all the hype in her first test at Carlton. She not only provided a few spectacular marks but worked hard to offer leads up the ground all match. Extra points in her bank – no other key forward, including Harris’ partner-in-crime Darcy Vescio, had nights to remember.


About Callum O'Connor

Here's to feelin' good all the time.


  1. Callum – I didn’t watch a lot of this game but what I did see wasn’t much chop. However, we need to give the competition time.

    I agree regarding game plans. A good coach will recognise that women play this game differently to men, and that a different game plan should be devised. Currently, it seems to me, the game plans are based on the assumption that the field kicking and game skills are at a certain standard, when they are not. I hope that the coaches at AFL and VFL level are putting a lot of thought into this.

    Your analysis is honest and thoughtful. As a good analysis should be.

  2. Yvette Wroby says

    Thanks Callum. A brutally honest summary of the footy and the players. I enjoyed what improvements I saw as well as seeing newbies in action. It felt so pressured and poor decision making too added to a messy game.

  3. David Henricus says

    Wow Callum, have you been sharpening your axe over the last 10mths whilst waiting for Round 1!

    Second season in for a fledgling competition and we may as well give it the chop now and just wait for the men to start!

    The bobblehead is something that the little kids will love and cherish and is just another little gizmo the AFL have always produced. Did you ever collect players cards, badges? Play simulated games on your XBox? Wear a scarf or beanie? Stickers?

    Hopefully you’re not going to blame the players and the club staff for the poor stadium conditions? Or are they one of the causes of the poor standard of play?

    I for one was so engrossed with the game that I didn’t even realise that the second half produced a zero goal result. The match was played between the two fifties due to both teams playing an extra player in defence. Errant disposals or mistakes were jumped upon and sent back to the midfield.

    Why? The clubs know that a loss sets up the season as much as a win. Both teams were desperate NOT to lose. By the end of next round, a team losing two in a row (pies, freo, crows and giants) will almost certainly miss out on the grand final due to the top two finish rule.

    I have seen many a men’s game slog it out in perfect Etihad conditions as well disgusting bogs at Moorabin where the play was ugly and low scoring. Yet it was the contest and the competition that was what drove my interest in that game and that season.

    We have a terrific competition at the moment for many good reasons. Let’s give it time to develop. After all, the men are entering their 123rd season!

  4. stve todorovic says

    many logical points made, Dave. There’s been many a men’s AFL match that could have benefited from some head office interference….but they said zip…..funny that.

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