AFLW Round 6 – GWS Giants v Western Bulldogs: Golden Girls put Dogs back on the leash


As my supervisor reminded me this week, I am at the pointy end of my PhD. I’m trying to finish my thesis. I was definitely going to Canberra for the Giants game but after things didn’t go quite so well on the thesis front on Thursday, I thought perhaps I shouldn’t.


I smashed through some work on Friday and Saturday morning so I allowed footy to get the better of me. Beating the Dogs wasn’t out of the question, and if the Giants did beat them and I was watching on the couch, I wouldn’t be happy.


My Giants mate and I set off down the boring, boring road between Sydney and Canberra. Game on.


If the AFLW has royalty, the Bulldogs, alongside Melbourne would be it. There’s nothing I love more than watching football royalty, except beating them.


The first quarter started before we knew it. The ball somehow got cleared from the centre bounce, fled down inside 50 for the Dogs and Kirsten McLeod took advantage of some unfortunate timing for Emma Swanson and Jess Dal Pos, stabbing one in off the ground.




The Giants weren’t perturbed. They worked the ball down the other end, bustling and hustling. Cora Staunton chased a ball into the pocket, the crowd rising. We’ve come to expect something special. Staunton snapped a shot from her left foot, scraping it across the face of goal for a point.


After the Dogs earned themselves a couple more behinds, the Giants got it through the big sticks. Ellie Brush took a mark on half back and squared it Tanya Hetherington, who kicked down the corridor to Renee Tomkins. She took what was to become a fortuitous slip while Courtney Gum put on a shepherd. Dal Pos picked up the ball and nicked a quick hand ball to Nicola Barr who straightened up and floated a short pass to Jacinda Barclay. She looked to line up for a shot when she saw Aimee Schmidt unmarked. Schmidt duly converted.


This was one of the better moments for the Giants in the first quarter.


Emma Kearney and Ellie Blackburn were often finding the ball at the back of the pack and able to wheel around and distribute. It was one of those moments from Blackburn that got the ball forward and on the ground in the forward 50. Monique Conti chased and got her first goal in AWFL, a kick off the ground.


(Before I go on: I’d heard a lot about Conti, including Chyloe Kurdas describing her and Izzy Huntington as the best players she’d ever worked with. On this showing I can confirm for Conti. Watch her whenever you get the chance).


The second quarter started in a hurry too, with McLeod kicking another goal in the first minute. This time it was a snap.




It didn’t take long this time though for the Giants to get it down the other end. After good fighting from Barclay and Phoebe McWilliams, the ball got out to Rebecca Beeson who chipped cleverly over the top of a Dogs player to Jodie Hicks well inside the 50. She kicked her first goal in AFLW.


After having to chase for much of the first quarter, the Giants started to take control. They applied much more pressure around the ruck. Perhaps they showed a little too much respect in the first quarter. When they came out again they had obviously decided the Dogs weren’t going to have things their way. The Dogs weren’t allowed to kick around the ground at will. The Giants also cut off the free ball Kearney and Blackburn were getting and their influence waned.


Gum muscled her way into the game, picking the pocket of Dogs players on the ground and in the air.


Staunton was drawing players and releasing team mates with hand balls. Her value is not just in the spectacular goals but in the way she puts the frighteners on opposing backlines. Defenders are so desperate to shut her down they will leave their player. This was illustrated beautifully when she got a hand pass off to Dal Pos who used her superb left foot to kick a goal.


A minute or two later Dal Pos returned the favour with a bullet pass to Staunton who marked, turned several defenders, side-stepped another and kicked a brilliant goal.


I didn’t care who was around, I rammed both arms into the air and jumped out of my seat. What the hell is happening? The Giants are looking good beyond my dreams.


The third quarter: not sure what the deficit between inside 50s would have been but I am pretty sure it would be large. The Dogs camped in top half of the field. It allowed us to see another side of Gum: intercept marking across the backline. The Dogs had also swung Bonnie Toogood into the backline to take care of Barclay but it was not entirely necessary: the Giants barely got the ball forward.


The territorial dominance didn’t matter: the Dogs only managed one goal for the quarter – a good effort from Jenna Bruton.


In the fourth quarter Toogood went to the backline again but the Dogs’ problem was in the midfield. Gum was doing what she wanted. And when she was blocked by two players and couldn’t get to the ball it didn’t matter, Dal Pos did the inside work and got it to Alicia Eva who cleared.


Giants led by one point going into the last quarter. After four minutes Gum earned a 50 when Mackie crossed the mark. Like most other things she did, Gum made no mistake. Finally, some breathing space.


Being at the ground this week I was able to see things up close. Like Gum calling for a pass from Hicks, who was deep in a pack. Hicks duly fired a long hand pass to Gum. If I were the Dogs I’d be asking, firstly, why was Gum standing out on her own and second, how did Hicks get her hands free to pull off such a pass?


It was all Giants from here on in. After McWilliams had kicked across goal, the forwards fought to keep it in and managed to get the ball back to Eva. She kicked a pearler from the pocket.


When the Giants did get forward Hetherington’s intercept marking took the sting out of Dogs attacks.


Amanda Farrugia kicked the sealer. The Dogs just couldn’t get it out of their 50 far enough. Phoebe Monaghan intercepted. McWilliams fought hard to maintain possession and snuck a handball off to Dal Pos who almost simultaneously got another to Beeson. She kicked higher into the air than perhaps she intended but the result was good. Maddy Collier juggled, was tackled and yet squeezed a hand pass to Fridge. She swivelled 180 degrees and fired in a shot. It bounced. We held our breath. Goal.


We were home.


Now it was just a matter of slowing it down.


I’ve said it before and it bears repeating: there’s something happening here. The effort Collier put in to get that hand pass to Fridge would not happen in a team that was not gelling. It would not happen in a team that didn’t believe they could do something.


I didn’t want to leave Manuka Oval. I went and stood on the fence like a kid and talked to the Giants players. Then at the second siren we went out for kick to kick.


On the way home I got a text from my sister: There’s a big, big sound….F**KING GIANTS!


They certainly are.


Last week I was beginning allow to myself a snifter of hope, now I’m in danger of being over the legal f**king limit.


GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY    1.2    4.4    4.4   7.4 (46)
WESTERN BULLDOGS                2.2    3.2    4.3   4.4 (28)

Greater Western Sydney: Hicks, Staunton, Dal Pos, Farrugia, Gum, Eva, Schmidt
Western Bulldogs: McLeod 2, Conti, Bruton 

Greater Western Sydney: Gum, Eva, Staunton, Barr, Hetherington, Farrugia
Western Bulldogs: Kearney, Blackburn, Lamb, Conti, Lochland, Scott

Greater Western Sydney: Nil
Western Bulldogs: Nil

Reports: Nil

Crowd: 4,146 at UNSW Canberra Oval

Our votes: Gum (GWS) 3, Kearney (WB) 2, Eva (GWS) 1




A Swans AFL member and a GWS AFLW member, quickly developing conflicting allegiances. Trying to finish a PhD but footy keeps getting in the way. Mother to a teenage half-forward who sometimes plays at half-back.


  1. Yvette Wroby says

    Ah that flicker of hope. If GWS play like that they will get the chance. Nice report and work hard this week so u can make it to Grabd Final if they make it!

  2. bring back the torp says

    Superb write-up, Georgina. You’re a pro!
    What is your PhD thesis?

    It’s interesting -GWS attract 4,146 to a female football match at Manuka a few days after summer ends. Not that many years ago, the men’s team, in footy season, were often only getting c. 8-9,000, with all their well known stars. A great achievement for the AFLW!

    Another great achievement is the quality of most matches, & good no. of goals being kicked. This is despite the games going for about only 60% of the time of the AFL, often being played in very strong heat (which adversely affects skills for men & women).
    It demonstrates the opening game, Coll. v. Carlton, with the very poor 2nd half (no goals kicked), was an aberration. The remainder of Round 1, and the rest of the season, has produced much entertaining & exciting AF.

  3. Thanks bring back the torp.

    It is interesting – the club has handled the women’s team very well. They use the same single social media accounts for both men’s and women’s teams, for a start. They project the idea of ‘one club’ very strongly. It also helps that the team are winning. Although, I suspect a lot of people would go regardless. Quite a crowd turned up to their trial game, for instance, and given they got the wooden spoon the previous year, there was obviously still strong support.

    I agree, the quality is much improved on last year, particularly admirable given the things that stand in their way: heat, working full time, driving rain at times, I could go on. I’ve given up trying to convince those who dismiss the game out of hand because of the perceived lack of skill. They don’t want to be convinced.

    (My thesis is on the design of library catalogue interfaces – not even remotely related to footy or writing. Writing for the Almanac is a good break).

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