Round 3 of the AFLW season gets underway tonight with the Saints hosting Melbourne at Moorabbin, but before we hit the middle of the season it’s worth reflecting on who has impressed early on.
Here are the 10 players who have stood out across the opening fortnight.
Honourable mentions: Ebony Marinoff, Maddy Prespakis, Sabreena Duffy, Alyce Parker, Emma Kearney, Ash Brazill, Kate Lutkins and Sophie Conway
Jaimee Lambert (Collingwood)
Lambert has always been of the game’s elite midfielders, but with a bit more help around her this season she has been able to find more space for the Pies.
She’s averaging 19.5 disposals per game (ranked fifth in the competition) and has also been used both as a deep forward and behind the ball when required.
Expect Lambert to remain the centrepiece of the Pies’ midfield even with Brianna Davey back in the side.
Kiara Bowers (Fremantle)
Bowers has laid 32 tackles in two games. Convert the length of an AFLW game to the men’s competition and that is the equivalent of roughly 51 – which is insane.
The star Fremantle midfielder brings more to the table than just tackling however, ranking third in the competition for metres gained (764) and third for inside 50s (11), while averaging 17.5 disposals.
Bowers has picked up exactly where she left off last year and is comfortably among the best five players of the season so far.
Jasmine Garner (North Melbourne)
Garner’s move from All-Australian calibre forward to All-Australian calibre midfielder this season highlights just how talented she is.
The Roo is the number one metres gained player in the competition – an incredibly important stat given the territory battle that is AFLW in 2020.
Averaging 19 disposals per game and ranking first for inside 50s with 6.5 per game, Garner has given North Melbourne another element through the midfield and given Emma Kearney a serious hand.
Anne Hatchard (Adelaide)
Breaking the disposal record in Round 1, Hatchard has had 12 more touches than any other player so far this season.
While she isn’t the most impactful player with ball in hand just yet, her ability to win the footy in close and feed it out, while also finding space for easy marks and uncontested possessions makes her quite a dynamic threat.
Karen Paxman (Melbourne)
Paxman isn’t getting as much of the ball as she did last year (down from 21 disposals per game to 15.5), but she has arguably been even more impactful.
The Dees have played in awful conditions across the first two games, but Paxman has been clean while accumulating the ball, especially against the Bulldogs last Friday.
Paxman might just be the most reliable midfielder in the competition at this point.
Daisy Pearce (Melbourne)
Daisy Pearce has slotted in beautifully across Melbourne’s half backline.
She has always been one of the best at reading the flight of the ball and has taken that to a new level, leading the competition in intercept possessions.
Pearce averaged 18 disposals per game in 2018 and is down to 13 in her new role, but her organisational skill drew huge praise from Terry Wallace, saying her role was Luke Hodge at Brisbane like.
Chloe Molloy (Collingwood)
It’s hard to summarise how important Molloy has been to Collingwood this season after missing 2019 with a foot injury.
She started the West Coast game playing as their primary forward target, finished the game through the midfield and spent most of the Carlton game playing loose behind the ball.
She is the ultimate Swiss army knife of a player and is capable of being the most important player on the ground in all three areas.
Gemma Houghton (Fremantle)
Gemma Houghton is arguably the player who has improved most since the inaugural season, going from inconsistent livewire to potentially the game’s best key forward.
She has only kicked the two goals so far this season, but has set up her teammates, taken marks and shown plenty of X-factor.
Houghton leads the competition for score involvements with 14 – no other player is in double figures.
Olivia Purcell (Geelong)
Purcell has quietly become a fantastic midfielder down in Geelong without getting a great deal of praise.
She’s the number one clearance player in the competition, number two for contested possessions, third for total disposals and booted two goals against Brisbane ... what more needs to be said?
At only 19, Purcell looms as one of the next generation stars who will dominate the competition for a long time.
Georgia Patrikios (St Kilda)
The favourite for the AFLW Rising Star award at this stage, Patrikios has been outstanding through the midfield for the Saints.
The 18-year-old is averaging 18 disposals per game and 4.5 tackles while immediately taking on the load as St Kilda’s key midfielder.