Who wants it? Tigers, Roos are fighting for fourth place, the cats are watching

RICHMOND and North Melbourne will battle for the final spot in the top four on Sunday, with Geelong also in the running for a double chance before the final day of the regular season.

Behind leaders Brisbane and Melbourne, the Tigers and Kangaroos have emerged as two of the strongest teams in the competition.

The two face off at Arden St on Sunday afternoon, with the winner expected to secure a double chance in the final, although percentage may well determine the outcome.

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Geelong gave themselves a chance to take fourth place with their percentage win over Sydney on Saturday and currently sits in fourth place with 28 points, with a save percentage of 173.

The Tigers (currently 28 points, 154.7 percentage point) will lock into the top four with a win and they could possibly move up to third place if they win by a big enough margin to edge Adelaide, who currently have a percentage of 177.6 (22.9 ahead of the Tigers).

North, currently in eighth place, needs to win and do so by a big enough margin to ensure his percentage (currently 175.7) doesn’t fall below the Cats’ (173) in order to take fourth. .

That means the Cats are hoping for a North win, but not too much, to grab fourth place.

The Tigers have won seven straight in their “hot girl streak” (as midfielder Grace Egan coined it), while the Roos moved past top four contender and fierce rival Collingwood last week.


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Savvy recruiting on both sides has helped fill gaps that have proven deadly in the past, while intangible and immeasurable trust is sky-high on Arden Street and Punt Road.

The Roos have won all three matches between the pair, by an average margin of 36.7, but both sides have changed significantly both in personal and style of play.

The story so far

North Melbourne is widely recognized as the strongest of the non-inaugural clubs, entering the competition in 2019.

The Roos came close to making the final in their first year, but the conference system cost them a deserved spot.

The following year was arguably North Melbourne’s best chance, winning a preliminary final before the season was called off at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

North Melbourne players celebrate after the AFLW Semi-Final against Collingwood at Ikon Park on March 20, 2020. Photo: AFL Photos

Two defeats in the first week final followed, the most disappointing of which was Fremantle’s complete loss last year at the Roos Inner Bridge.

Richmond entered the competition in 2020 and lost all six matches, later changing coach to Ryan Ferguson.

It took until Game 5 of the following season for the Tigers to record their first-ever win, and 10th and 11th place finishes followed.

Monique Conti is all smiles after Richmond beat Geelong to record their first AFLW victory on February 26, 2021. Image: Getty Images

This season will mark Richmond’s first appearance in the Finals.

What has changed this season?

It’s hard to quantify, but the eyesight test suggests North Melbourne is playing grittier football.

For so long the Kangaroos have been an aesthetically pleasing side to watch, a side that valued possession of the ball to find the perfect path, but it was a style that was vulnerable to elite pressure from teams like Brisbane, Adelaide and (last season) Fremantle.

They’ve averaged just a handful fewer kicks this season, but their handball numbers have dropped quite markedly, averaging 17 fewer in season seven.


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Meanwhile, the Roos are averaging 9.2 more tackles in the second half and one more goal.

The biggest change in the Tigers’ fortunes came with runs conceded, dropping from 42.3 to 21.1.

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By contrast, their average score has actually dropped by two points, but simply put, they’re no longer being blown out of the water by top teams.

Richmond have the lowest average elimination number of any top eight and are very efficient with their use of the ball – getting the footy and advancing by any means necessary, which may ring a bell if you’ve been watching the team men’s club at all times. over the past six years.


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In fact, the Tigers only average more kicks than GWS and Sydney but are happy with handball, sitting sixth overall.

So, who are the actors who have contributed to the changes?

It’s hard to miss North Melbourne rookie Vikki Wall.

The Irishman may only have arrived in Australia three weeks before the start of the season, but she seems tailor-made for her new sport.

Playing a crucial linking role in the centre-forward, she is a powerful contested mark who is quick from the ground and can lay down a crisp tackle.


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North Melbourne parted ways with Daria Bannister and Daisy Bateman in the offseason, and the bigger wall was able to cover their forward pressure while proving to be a solid scoring target.

Draft Taylah Gatt and former fringe player Amy Smith have done well, filling Kaitlyn Ashmore’s spot after her move to Hawthorn, with Erika O’Shea in the halfback position after Aileen Gilroy’s similar switch.

Taylah Gatt in action during round six of North Melbourne, S7 take on Sydney at the Swinburne Centre. Image: AFL Pictures

The Roos have been missing Ellie Gavalas (hamstring) for most of the season, but have simply given more time to Jenna Bruton and Mia King.

Tess Craven has locked down a half-forward role after being drafted as an inside midfielder, while youngsters Bella Eddey and Alice O’Loughlin have grown in confidence as the season progressed.

What about Punt Road?

Richmond is transformed in the same way, especially in defense.

The Tigers stole the draft from Eilish Sheerin, 29, who was a revelation at halfback, something that has proven to be a problem in the past for the Tigers.

Katelyn Cox was also recruited during the draft. After spending time as a midfielder on North Melbourne’s roster as an injury replacement, she was unleashed on the opposite flank from half-back.

Katelyn Cox in action during Richmond’s clash against West Coast in the seventh round, S7, 2022. Image: Getty Images

Former giant Libby Graham was brought in to bolster key defensive actions, while Laura McClelland performed admirably in a similar role in Bec Miller’s absence through injury, with the utility big playing more confidently as his playing time increases.

A fit Courtney Wakefield has done wonders for the forward line, while young Stella Reid has recently taken on the role of third big.


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Meg Macdonald has improved out of sight, employed in various roles on the pitch, pressure work from buzzing Emelia Yassir in attack has been key, while Beth Lynch has exploited her aggression and is a sure pair of hands in defense.

But perhaps the most important signing was ex-Blue Egan (sharp phrase aside) whose tireless and contested efforts in midfield helped superstar Monique Conti enjoy the best season of her career.