AFLW Round 7 – GWS Giants v Brisbane: Hope and expectation

Greater Western Sydney v Brisbane
Blacktown International Sportspark
Friday 16 March


Last week the Giants beat the ladder leaders. It was unexpected and exhilarating. That win at Manuka will be one I take out and savour through the rest of the year. After that, I thought, anything could happen.


Brisbane were coming off a surprise loss to Collingwood, this concerned me. They struck me as a team who just might draw fire from such a result.


It was all over in the first quarter, although I didn’t believe it at the time. Brisbane simply blew the Giants away. Although they had three quarters to claw it back, it was too much.


The Giants actually owned the first minutes of the match. They were working the ball around well. They managed to get it forward and keep it there, resulting in a couple of behinds and a goal to Britt Tully after she did the hard work in the tackle and earned a free kick.


Then things changed. 


Four goals in five minutes.


Sabrina Frederick-Traub was the catalyst.


After some sustained presence in their forward 50 and a couple of behinds, Frederick-Traub snapped a powerful shot around her body and it flew straight through the posts. The speed at which it travelled  was astounding.


Next Frederick-Traub took a pack mark inside 50. She took the shot and drilled it.


Then Jess Wuetschner scored a goal after finding some space to receive a hand pass from Bella Ayre. There were still six minutes to go in the quarter.


30 seconds later Sophie Conway took a run down the wing, made it into the 50 and shot truly.


With 3 minutes 48 seconds left in the quarter Frederick-Traub had far too much time to take a step back and shoot from the outside of her foot. Goal.


Brisbane continued to move the ball around at will, the Giants could not keep up. Wuetschner found enough space between herself and Pepa Randall to take a mark inside 50. She didn’t miss either.


Brisbane led by 31 points at quarter time. Perhaps just as damning: Courtney Gum was without a disposal. Nat Exon had pinned her down.


The second quarter was better. The Giants were far more competitive on the ball. Randall – the niggle queen – was put onto Frederick-Traub. The Giants, however, couldn’t get the disposal accuracy of previous weeks nor could they manage a goal. Brisbane snuck another, creeping further away. Frederick-Traub was awarded a mark that could have gone either way. The ball went down the other end and Kate McCarthy scored.


There were only 2000 odd people there but they weren’t lacking in passion. After that start, every mark, every tackle, every accurate kick was cheered like a goal. There was also ire, much of it directed towards the performances of the umpires. At half time the Giants players headed down the race and the crowd stood and applauded, willing them to go on. They booed the umpires off.


There was ferocity of opinion on two particular decisions: Pepa Randall’s tackle on Sophie Conway that was deemed in the back (I’m not a fan of the Lions habit of applauding in the faces of opponents who give away free kicks, Conway guilty of it in this case) and the swinging arm from Wuetschner that took Ellie Brush across the nose. Brush was penalised for holding the ball. She was also sent from the field with a bloody face. The ball had to be swapped as it was covered in blood. The frustration grew from there.


I won’t make comment on particular decisions (anyone sitting near me on the night will know what I think). I do want to say, however: there seems to be some umpire distaste of women engaging in the more robust aspects of the game. Tough but fair tackles are penalised. There are also penalties dealt for acts that fall within the accepted norms of the men’s game.


When Erin McKinnon didn’t take kindly to some treatment from Brisbane she gave an opponent a shove in the chest. We’ve seen it happen tens of times each week in the men’s game. Yet McKinnon was penalised. She didn’t punch, she didn’t slap, she merely used two open hands to say ‘back off’.


Why are women punished more harshly, or punished at all, for things that are routine occurrences in the mens game? If an umpire is squeamish and can’t handle seeing a woman do tough things within the accepted norms – and rules – of the men’s game, she or he needs to find a new job.


There were good things from the Giants in the third quarter. McWilliams pack mark and shot from which Gum managed a goal over her shoulder. (She had spent some time in the forward line and was showing definite signs of shoulder discomfort. Nevertheless, she played on). Alicia Eva chased down and tackled the apparently un-catchable Kate McCarthy. Late in the quarter Sharni Webb scored another for the Lions. Cora Staunton nicked one for the Giants, after great midfield work. The Giants won the quarter 2.2 to 1.1 but they needed much more.


By the fourth quarter the game was gone, but we wanted the Giants to fight on. They did. Not one of those players gave in, even though they must also have known that time was against them. They couldn’t manage another goal. Brisbane extended their percentage with two late goals from Frederick-Traub and Wuetschner. 


There were tears at the end. The Giants players were visibly shattered and yet they remained on the ground, giving their signatures and selfies. Farrugia climbed into the stands to have her photo taken with a cardboard fridge, surrounded by teenage girls who had flocked forward as they saw her heading their way.


When the Giants played the Lions in a trial game, and won handsomely, I allowed myself hope. Last season was a slog. After that trial I thought: perhaps two or three wins might be on the cards. Then they beat the Bulldogs in Canberra.


This loss really hurt. Not just because it was a shot at the grand final, but because I realised my hope had become expectation. I expected the Giants to win.


Expectation is arrogant. It pretends to know better than the game, better than the players, better than everyone who works so hard to put those two teams on the park.


I much prefer watching football with hope.



GIANTS     1.1     1.3     3.5     3.6        (24)
BRISBANE   6.2     7.3     8.4     10.4     (64)  

GIANTS: Tully, Gum, Staunton
Brisbane: Frederick-Traub 4, Wuetschner 3, Conway, McCarthy, Webb

GIANTS: Eva, Farrugia, Bennetts, Dal Pos, Tully, Swanson
Brisbane: Frederick-Traub, Anderson, Bates, Zielke, Wuetschner, Lutkins

Brisbane: Nil

Reports: Nil

Umpires: Howorth, McGinness, Crosby

Crowd: 2253

Our votes: Frederick-Traub (B) 3, Bates (B) 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

    Hi Georgina,
    I like your thoughts on expectation v hope. Interesting take, and it’s true. In footy, expectations sets something in motion that is a 50/50 at minimum. Hope you can take with you always. Tough game for Giants who played better in previous games. Effort was there but Lions were on a mission. Let’s see if that mission continues next week. I like how GWS have played this year, and know you will be proud of their effort and their improvements.

  2. I think that’s one reason why I have loved the AFLW so much: there is no expectation. Every team has a chance and upsets were plenty. I look forward to another season of hope next year.

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