AFLW Round 2 – GWS v Carlton: Blues draw the battle lines

Greater Western Sydney v Carlton

Drummoyne Oval, Sydney

Friday 9th February, 7.05 p.m.

Peter Fuller


I’m decidedly sceptical of what I consider spurious attempts to conflate bravery on the football field with the extreme hardships suffered by those on active service in wartime and POWs.


However, while watching the Carlton-Collingwood war of attrition in last week’s season-opener, I was tempted by the analogy of trench warfare on the Western front during World War I, obviously minus the extreme danger to life.


Last Friday, the match between Greater Western Sydney and Carlton served to add some (doubtful) credence to this dubious comparison. A biblical storm interrupted play and extended the quarter-time break by twenty minutes, creating conditions that in my fanciful comparison was not completely remote from the intolerable world of the Diggers 100 years ago. Of course, apart from the Christmas 1915 truce, there was no opportunity for the unfortunate soldiers to retire to the shed until the lightning subsided.


The fact that both teams of warriors sustained significant casualties during the battle offered yet another element of comparison. Happily there were no deaths at Drummoyne on Friday night!


This match loomed as a significant challenge for Carlton. Fresh from their unconvincing survival against the Magpies, the Blues travelled to Sydney to take on the Giants who had exceeded expectations against a highly-rated Melbourne in their opening match. GWS had led for much of that game, and it took a late goal to secure the Demons’ narrow victory.


The selected Giants’ forward line looked especially potent, with captain Amanda Farrugia and star player Jess Dal Pos on either side of Phoebe McWilliams who had slotted three goals against the Demons; Cora Staunton, reputedly the Gaelic football GOAT, was set to play full-forward, with two talented players Jacinda Barclay and Rebecca Beeson alongside. An added challenge for the Blues emerged with the complaint from headquarters about their playing style in round 1, and this might have been expected to be compounded by the absence (due to illness) of coach Damian Keeping, and duties falling to stand-in, assistant Nick Rutley.


In the event Staunton began on the bench, but McWilliams gave an early hint of her threat. She won a holding the ball free kick against Sarah Hosking, which she converted from a tight angle. However far from being a harbinger of how the match would play out, that was all she wrote. The Giants didn’t add to their score for almost two full quarters, and didn’t manage another goal for the duration of the match. The Blues took time to settle, and then endured a frustrating run of seven behinds either side of the first break. The weather-determined break at quarter-time seemed to aid Carlton, although most of the second quarter elapsed before Nicola Stevens demonstrated her football smarts with a snapped goal after crumbing the marking contest. This took the Blues into half-time with a seven point advantage, after they had trailed by two at quarter-time.


The third term continued the pattern of the previous quarter. Katie Loynes scored the Blues’ second goal with a long kick through an open forward line. Leading goal-kicker in 2017, Darcy Vescio got her first for this season from a free aided by a fifty metre penalty. Renee Forth and Amanda Farrugia could only manage behinds from set shots for the home team before and after Vescio’s goal to leave Carlton with a commanding seventeen-point advantage at the last change.


Forth opened the scoring in the final term with another behind for GWS; as they had done in the first, Carlton added a string of behinds in a largely anti-climatic final term. This enabled them to run out decisive winners.


The main drama of the final term was from the casualty station. Brianna Davey, inspirational captain, fell heavily as she laid a tackle, and was subsequently diagnosed with a ruptured ACL. In almost the last act of play, gun Carlton recruit, Tayla Harris, fell heavily, and emerged gingerly holding her shoulder. Her injury is evidently not serious as there has been no further report of it, even though it looked to be significant when viewed on the screen as the final siren sounded. For GWS, Britt Tully had left the field with a shoulder injury before half-time.


The Blues’ won because they were better organised in the very testing conditions created by the constant rain. Although both teams found kicking for goal extremely difficult, Carlton were able to create sufficient opportunities to win clearly. Field kicking let GWS down in a match where most of the stats – except for the decisive one – indicated an even battle.



GWS GIANTS   1.0   1.0   1.2   1.3 (9)
0.4   1.7   3.7   3.12 (30)

Greater Western Sydney: 
Carlton: Stevens, Loynes, Vescio

Greater Western Sydney: 
Farrugia, Gum, Eva, McWilliams, McKinnon
Carlton: Davey, J Hosking, S Hosking, Audley, Vescio, Harrington

Greater Western Sydney: 
Tully (shoulder)
Carlton: Davey (leg)

Reports: Nil.

Umpires: Rawlings, Crosby, Newell

Crowd: 4,952

Votes: 3. S. Hosking (Carl.)  2. C. Gum (GWS)  1. K. Harrington (Carl.)




  1. John Butler says

    Peter, I find war references in sport as dubious as you do, but this week felt like a struggle, if not a battle.

    Good win for the Blues. But they’ll miss Bri badly.


  2. Yvette Wroby says

    Thanks Peter,

    with all the missiles being shot across the bow after first game, it did feel like each team took to the battle field this week. And that lightning. Unbelievable. Fans score an extra tick for hanging around, and both teams for effort.

    Inaccuracy costs games. I’m a Saints supporter. I KNOW this!

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