By Ant Wingard
Brisbane claimed their third win of the season against the Giants at Hickey Park in Round 4. Here’s what we learned.
Brisbane’s have found a new midfielder
Across the AFLW’s history, Brisbane have been rather reluctant to change their starting midfield setup across essentially every game. Emily Bates and Ally Anderson have both been staples across all 27 games while Bree Koenen or Emma Zielke have often been the third midfielder in the setup. Against the Giants though, Starcevich and his coaching staff unleashed a new weapon through the midfield in Cathy Svarc. The first year midfielder has played as a running defender throughout the opening three rounds but was exceptional through the middle for the Lions. She finished with 23 disposals, 11 tackles and two goals.
Brisbane must improve their first half dominance
Once again, the Brisbane had their Lions’ share of possession, inside 50s and scoring shots in the first half but failed to make the most of their opportunities where it mattered most. The Lions piled on 2.5 in the opening term as they easily dominated the opening term and steadied slightly for a 4.5 score line at the main break. The Lions have been the better side in the first half of three of their games this season – the only exception being the Geelong game and despite their good run of wins, it’s fair to assume they could have put the results beyond doubt with better accuracy at the goal face. Brisbane has kicked 12.13 in the first half the season, as well as several no scores from opportunities.
There was no second half fade this time around
Brisbane ran to a standstill last weekend in their QClash draw with Gold Coast but there was absolutely no sign of that this weekend against Greater Western Sydney. The Lions booted three goals for the quarter and were unlucky not to add any more with Jesse Wardlaw hitting the post in the shadows of three quarter time. Svarc was the first to hit the scoreboard in the third with a trusty drop punt from deep in the pocket before Lily Posltethwaite snapped truly at the top of the goal square to kick her first AFLW goal and established the Lions’ comfortable lead. When Jesse Wardlaw slotted her second, the game was all over and another Brisbane win was confirmed.
Brisbane will be playing finals once again
Not many would have slated this outcome earlier in the season but with the Lions still undefeated on the year and having only dropped two of a possible 16 points thus far, it’s increasingly likely they will return to finals action. The Lions dominated the Giants on Sunday evening to record their third win of the year and sit comfortably in atop Conference A and 1.5 games ahead of fourth. Both they are North Melbourne remain the standouts in the conference and with a top three qualification process, they should both make the cut. That leaves the Giants, Adelaide and Gold Coast to battle it out for the remaining two places. Brisbane’s matchup against Conference B leader Fremantle will be the most important game of the season to date and will not only increase the Lions’ stock with a win but reaffirm their finals credentials in the process.
Jessy Keeffe is highly influential despite low volume disposals
Round 4 was the second week in a row Keeffe, who has assumed the ruck mantle at the Lions, has finished the game with five disposals or less. On paper, it appears rather unimpressive but the secret is Keeffe has been incredibly influential in Brisbane’s early season run. Against the Giants, Keeffe’s dominance in games doesn’t stem from how often she touches the footy – she had four disposals against the Giants – it’s in the ruck where she proves her worth. Keeffe is a very, very good tap ruck and over her three seasons on the Lions’ list, has worked incredibly to improve her tap delivery to Brisbane’s midfielders. She finished with 24 hit-outs against the Giants and was often the catalyst for Bates, Svarc and Anderson’s clearance work.