The 2022 AFLW finals series is upon us with six teams looking to battle it out for the premiership - Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane, North Melbourne, Fremantle, and Collingwood; the same sides who qualified for the finals last season too. 

The Adelaide Crows finished the home and away season as minor premiers, losing just one game in the 10-round regular season, edging the Melbourne Demons - who also lost just one game for the year - for first place on percentage.

Reigning premiers, the Brisbane Lions finished the year in third place and will contest a qualifying final against the sixth-placed Collingwood Magpies who snuck into the top six at the end of the season.

The North Melbourne Kangaroos ended up in fourth place at the conclusion of the 2022 AFLW season, and will do battle against the fifth-placed Fremantle Dockers in the first week of finals with each team winning the same number of games this year; seven.

Despite one of the scheduled qualifying finals - Brisbane v Collingwood - already being postponed because of the threat of COVID-19 impacting one of the participating teams, the other qualifying final between North Melbourne and Fremantle begins what looms to be an exciting finals series.

ADELAIDE CROWS

2022 SEASON FORM: 1st (nine wins, one loss, 216.9%)

Round One v Brisbane (Won by 30 points)
Round Two v North Melbourne (Won by 13 points)
Round Three v West Coast (Won by 33 points)
Round Four v  Melbourne (Won by 14 points)
Round Five v Carlton (Won by 39 points)
Round Six v Western Bulldogs (Lost by one point)
Round Seven v Greater Western Sydney (Won by 40 points)
Round Eight v Fremantle (Won by nine points)
Round Nine v Collingwood (Won by two points)
Round 10 v St Kilda (Won by 39 points)

Adelaide only lost one game this season, in a nail-biting one-point loss against the Western Bulldogs at Norwood Oval in Round Six. Other than that, the Crows were super strong across the season and will be ready to hit the ground running, ready to avenge last season's Grand Final loss. 

2022 FORM VERSUS FELLOW FINALS TEAMS:

The Crows have beaten all of their fellow top-six sides by an average of 13.6 points with the highest margin being against Brisbane in Round One in the Grand Final rematch when the Crows defeated the Lions by 30 points.

Adelaide held the reigning premiers to only one goal for the entire game, which didn’t come until the twelve-minute mark in the final term when Greta Bodey slotted through the Lion's first points of the game. From a Crow's perspective, Ashleigh Woodland put her name on the map kicking four goals for the match.  Anne Hatchard and Ebony Marinoff proved to still be a dynamic duo, racking up disposals with the pair finishing on 26 and 23 disposals respectively.

The Crows were straight into another match against an eventual top six side taking on the Kangaroos with the home side prevailing by 14 points. While the game wasn’t on the Crow's terms as much as the Lions match was, they were still dominant with Ashleigh Woodland once again backing up her performance from the week before kicking another four goals to add to her tally. Anne Hatchard was once again leading the disposal count with 29 disposals and played a key role in getting her side over the line, while Erin Phillips was back to her best with 23 disposals.

Round Four saw the Crows take on fellow premiership fancies in the Demons, in a game where the Crows kept the Demons goalless for the first three quarters. The final quarter was all red and blue, with Melbourne scoring three goals in the final quarter and keeping Adelaide to only one point. Erin Phillips had a dominant day, finishing the match with three goals and 17 disposals. 

In Round Eight the Crows headed to Perth and came up against the Dockers, keeping their season ticking along, victorious against a top-six side yet again, this time winning by nine points. It was a big game for both Ebony Marinoff and Anne Hatchard both having a case of leather poisoning with the pair having 30 and 31 disposals respectively while on the scoreboard Danielle Ponter kicked two for her side.

The Crow's closest match against a top-six side was in Round Nine against the Magpies in what was a historic day with Ebony Marinoff playing in game 50. Although the Crows got out to a blistering start the Magpies were hot on their tails, slashing the Crows lead, with the Magpies keeping the home side scoreless in the second term. Adelaide was able to fix past mistakes from a narrow loss the week prior, as Ashleigh Woodland kicked two goals to help her side get over the line.

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FORM IN PREVIOUS FINALS CAMPAIGNS:

Adelaide has probably been one of the best finals teams going around, having played in three premierships and only missing two finals campaigns in 2018 and 2020. 

In 2017, the Crows came up against the Lions in the very first AFLW Grand Final, creating history by becoming the inaugural premiers of the competition when they won by six points. Erin Phillips was named best on ground after having 28 disposals and kicking two goals, as Sarah Perkins also played a key role kicking two goals. 

In 2019, Adelaide was back at the top, winning the premiership once again, first overcoming Geelong in a one-sided affair in the preliminary final, coming away with a 66-point win, and holding its opponents to only seven points. Danielle Ponter was among the best kicking three goals as was Ebony Marinoff who had 27 disposals and kicked two goals.

In the 2019 Grand Final, Adelaide beat Carlton by 45 points to win the club's second premiership in three years. Danielle Ponter once again was strong in front of goal kicking three majors and despite going down with an eventual ACL injury in the third quarter, Erin Phillips won her second best on ground medal after having 18 disposals and two goals. 

The Crows were back in the finals series in 2021 and back to the final day of the AFLW season after defeating the Demons by 18 points in the preliminary final, the same margin that the Lions defeated them by at Adelaide Oval in the Grand Final a week later, consigned to being runners-up.

WHY THEY CAN WIN THE PREMIERSHIP:

Adelaide's ability to prevent teams from scoring for long periods of time, especially the teams in the top six will go a long way to claiming the club's third AFLW premiership in a few weeks' time. Adelaide was able to do it against Brisbane in Round One, with the Queensland-based side only scoring one goal and they did it to Melbourne a few rounds later also.

The Crows stars are spread all over the field, with the likes of Ebony Marinoff and Anne Hatchard running in the midfield, Sarah Allen and Marijana Rajic down back and Ash Woodland, Danielle Ponter and Erin Phillips up forward, each bringing a different factor to the makeup of the team and its output.

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WHY THEY CAN’T WIN THE PREMIERSHIP:

The Crows have been inconsistent across some matches this season, evidenced in the match against the Demons. While being able to keep the Demons scoreless in the first three quarters, the Crows allowed their opponents to go on a bit of a run kicking the final three goals for the match. It was a similar story against the Western Bulldogs when Adelaide allowed its opposition to kick three straight goals before the Crows could register a stat. 

The other issue for the Crows is their accuracy in front of goal. While there were some cases where they were lucky to escape with a win, in the loss against the Bulldogs they kicked seven goals and six behinds. In the game against the Giants, the Crows kicked five goals and a whopping 15 behinds.

MELBOURNE DEMONS

2022 SEASON FORM: 2nd (nine wins, one loss, 86.5%)

Round One v Western Bulldogs (Won by 24 points)
Round Two v Richmond (Won by 16 points)
Round Three v St Kilda (Won by 41 points)
Round Four v Adelaide (Lost by 14 points)
Round Five v Gold Coast (Won by 12 points)
Round Six v Greater Western Sydney (Won by 37 points)
Round Seven v Brisbane (Won by three points)
Round Eight v North Melbourne (Won by 10 points)
Round Nine v Fremantle (Won by 88 points)
Round 10 v Carlton (Won by one point)

Melbourne lost just one game in 2022, to minor premiers Adelaide in Round Four, otherwise were largely untroubled for many parts of the season, especially early on, though were tested, especially against Brisbane and Carlton within the final month of the regular season. Having never won through to an AFLW Grand Final, Melbourne put itself in the best position by finishing in second place, one win away from reaching the decider in hopes of claiming its first piece of silverware in the competition.

2022 FORM VERSUS FELLOW FINALS TEAMS:

Melbourne played against four of the five other teams that make up the top six in 2022 - Adelaide, Brisbane, North Melbourne and Fremantle -, with Collingwood the only side the club didn’t face throughout the home and away season. It was a mixed bag of results for the Demons against their fellow finals-bound opponents, only losing one of those four games, going down to the Crows by 14 points in Round Four, and winning against the Lions, Kangaroos and Dockers.

Against Adelaide, Melbourne failed to register a goal until the fourth quarter, however, the three-goal-to-one final term wasn’t enough to complete a spirited comeback, despite holding its opposition goalless in the second quarter as well. Daisy Pearce kicked two goals for the Demons whereas Eliza McNamara recorded a season-high 22 disposals.

In their fixture against the Lions, the Demons trailed by as much as 22 points in the second term but managed to cut the margin a point heading into the final break, before holding their opponents goalless in the last quarter with Tayla Harris’ goal helping edge her side over the line. Harris and Alyssa Bannan kicked two goals each with Karen Paxman having 23 possessions.

Despite a scoreless final quarter in their matchup against the Kangaroos, the Demons had enough ascendancy to take the 10-point victory at home as they had a slight buffer early on that never was relinquished. Tayla Harris kicked two goals during the encounter while Karen Paxman had 28 touches.

Melbourne, against Fremantle, set records galore, including an AFLW-high score of 107 and the biggest winning margin in AFLW history with an 88-point victory. The Demons held the Dockers to just one goal for the first three quarters while continuing to pile on the goals themselves, including a seven-goal third term with Daisy Pearce kicking five majors throughout the contest, along with Eliza West and Lily Mithen each recording 24 disposals.

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FORM IN PREVIOUS FINALS CAMPAIGNS:

The 2022 season marks the third time Melbourne has reached the finals after qualifying in the previous two seasons also, making a semi-final in 2020 and preliminary final in 2021.

Melbourne won its semi-final in 2020, defeating Greater Western Sydney by three points, however, due to the season’s ultimate cancellation following the impact of COVID-19, were unable to progress and play the following week.

With a new finals format, Melbourne played a qualifying final against Fremantle last year, winning by 17 points, however, came undone in the preliminary final against eventual runners-up Adelaide by 18 points.

In their fixture against the Lions, the Demons trailed by as much as 22 points in the second term but managed to cut the margin a point heading into the final break, before holding their opponents goalless in the last quarter with Tayla Harris’ goal helping edge her side over the line. Harris and Alyssa Bannan kicked two goals each with Karen Paxman having 23 possessions.

WHY THEY CAN WIN THE PREMIERSHIP:

Melbourne has a great chance at reaching its first-ever AFLW Grand Final, having qualified for a top-two spot and advancing straight to the second week of the finals, facing the winner of Brisbane v Fremantle.

However, possibly working in the Demons’ favour is a slight advantage in preparations, as, with the aforementioned qualifying final having been postponed to a yet-to-be-determined possible mid-week date, it gives the winner little time to recover and prepare for another big game with a Grand Final spot on the line.

Melbourne is a very handball-heavy side, leading this particular stat line during the 2022 season, but more so, it’s a way in which the team transitions the ball in a controlled and precise manner quickly down to its forward half of the ground to set up avenues to goal. 

The run and carry from many on the Demons list will be crucial in gaining ground and going forward with speed, contributing to a more damaging team structure. The tactics to take the game on at any opportunity contributes to its want to handball more in a free-flowing, overlapping structure down the corridor, with the Demons also winning the ball in many ways, including free kicks, especially through this determination and support of each other.

First-year Demon Tayla Harris will prove critical to her side’s success this finals series, finishing equal-second in the AFLW goalkicking tally with 18 goals, one behind the leader, Crow Ashleigh Woodland. The former Lion and Blue has enjoyed a career revival in the forward line in 2022, with only one game this season yielding a goalless result, and seven games of two or more majors. Harris also lead the league in contested marks with 24 (nine more than the next best), showcasing her strong overhead capabilities, and conversion inside 50.

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WHY THEY CAN’T WIN THE PREMIERSHIP:

While the Demons’ overlapping ball movement has seen them spread the ground and run down the ground at every chance, there are teams within this top six who are good at limiting the run of opposition teams, especially within the middle of the field, of which can go either way.

Earlier in the year, the Crows were able to limit the Demons’ ball movement to great effect over the course of the entire game with the Demons unable to find a goal until the fourth quarter with the pressure presenting the Crows to find plenty of scoring shots.

Finals are littered with high-pressure stakes and while Melbourne is more than capable of keeping up with the pressure, and contributing its own for four quarters when the team hits a wall in transition, will need to respond swiftly and effectively to not be caught in a fast break.

BRISBANE LIONS 

2022 SEASON FORM: 3rd (eight wins, two losses, 196.8%)

Round One v Adelaide Crows (Lost by 30 points)
Round Two v Western Bulldogs (Won by 32 points)* 
Round Three v Carlton  (Won by 35 points) 
Round Four v Geelong Cats (Won by two points)
Round Five v Collingwood (Won by 23 points) 
Round Six v St Kilda (Won by five points)
Round Seven v Melbourne (Lost by three points)
Round Eight v West Coast (Won by 74 points) 
Round Nine v North Melbourne (Won by 36 points)
Extra match v Gold Coast (Won by 69 points)

Match Between Brisbane and Richmond was Cancelled
*game was postponed and played later on in the season

After a disappointing first game against the Crows, the Lions were then thrown into COVID chaos having their game against the Bulldogs moved to the last round of the season. After getting out of isolation the Lions went on to only lose one match which was against the Dees in Round Seven.

2022 FORM VERSUS FELLOW FINALS TEAMS:

The Lions have had a mixed bag of results when it comes to their fellow top six teams, having played all other top-six sides bar Fremantle. The Lions finished the season with two wins and two losses against top-six sides.

Adelaide held the reigning premiers to only one goal for the entire game, which didn’t come until the twelve-minute mark in the final term when Greta Bodey slotted through the Lions' first goal of the game. Scoreboard aside it was a horror start for the Lions losing star defender Kate Lutkins to an ACL injury and Dakota Davidson to an ankle injury. Ally Anderson and Emily Bates led the Lions on the stats with 22 and 20 disposals respectively.

The next time the Lions came up against a top-six side it was a different result with the Lions defeating the Magpies in a game where they held the visitors scoreless until the third quarter. Zimmorlei Farquharson kicked two goals for the home side, while Emily Bates was the leading disposal getter on the ground with 22 disposals.

In their clash against the Demons, the Lions lead for as much as 22 points at one point in the second quarter, although the Demons came back to cut the margin by a point heading into the last quarter. The Lions were left goalless in the last quarter to go down the Demons by three points. Emily Bates led the disposal count for the Lions with 22 disposals. 

In the Lions' final clash against a top-six side, it was a dominant performance against the Kangaroos with the Lions coming away with a 36 point win. Maria Moloney and Sophie Conway were dominant on the scoreboard kicking two goals each. Natalie Grider and Emily Bates led the disposal count with 16 touches each.

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FORM IN PREVIOUS FINALS CAMPAIGNS:

The Lions featured in the first two AFLW Grand Finals in 2017 and 2018, unfortunately coming up short on both occasions. In 2017 the Lions went down to the Crows by six points at Metricon Stadium. In 2018, the Lions went down once again to the Western Bulldogs at Ikon Park by six points once again with Kate Lutkins and Jamie Stanton leading disposals with 21 and 20 disposals respectively. 

After missing out on finals in 2019, the Lions were back into finals action in 2020, although being knocked out in the first round by the Blues in what was a 29-point loss at Ikon Park just hours before the season was ultimately cancelled due to COVID-19.

The Lions were back in the Grand Final in 2021, getting there by defeating Collingwood in a four-point thriller in the preliminary final at the Gabba. Dakota Davidson finished the match with three goals and Ally Anderson was leading the disposal count with 23 possessions.

In the 2021 Grand Final, the Lions were able to secure their maiden AFLW premiership beating the Crows by 18 points, with Kate Lutkins being named the best on ground with 18 disposals. Jess Wueschner and Courtney Hodder were hot on the scoreboard kicking two goals each.

WHY THEY CAN WIN THE PREMIERSHIP:

Despite losing Kate Lutkins early in the season and having had some injury hiccups and a few retirements along the way the Lions have still kept that premiership side and they’ve hit their straps at the right time of the season. In the final few games, the Lions held an average winning margin of 47.3 points, looking to take that momentum into the finals series. 

Brisbane has also got a really strong midfield, with newly-crowned AFLCA Player of the Year Emily Bates and Ally Anderson in there as well as having one of the best rucks in the competition in Tahlia Hickey, as the team shows how formidable they are in the middle of the ground.

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WHY THEY CAN’T WIN THE PREMIERSHIP:

Brisbane hasn't won a game against either of the top two sides in the competition - Adelaide and Melbourne - and in both those matches during the season, each of the results was disappointing losses.

In the game against the Crows, the Lions struggled quite early on with injuries to key players not helping however, in the game against the Demons the Lions probably should have won after being up by 22 points at one point in the second term only to go down by three points will be something that the Lions would look to rectify.

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NORTH MELBOURNE KANGAROOS

2022 SEASON FORM: 4th (seven wins, three losses, 139.0%)

Round One v Geelong (Won by eight points)
Round Two v Adelaide (Lost by 13 points)
Round Three v Greater Western Sydney (Won by 27 points)
Round Four v Carlton (Won by 30 points)
Round Five v Fremantle (Won by 10 points)
Round Six v Richmond (Won by 19 points)
Round Seven v Collingwood (Won by 23 points)
Round Eight v Melbourne (Lost by 10 points)
Round Nine v Brisbane (Lost by 36 points)
Round 10 v West Coast (Won by 39 points)

The Kangaroos lost three games in 2022, all to teams above them on the ladder, with two of those losses coming in Round Eight and Round Nine, holding onto a five-game winning streak in the middle part of the season until that point.

2022 FORM VERSUS FELLOW FINALS TEAMS:

The Kangaroos came up against each of their fellow top-six sides throughout the 2022 season, proving victorious in two and going down in the other three, of which each side was above them on the ladder.

North Melbourne travelled to Adelaide Oval in Round Two and kept up in the second half, however, a two-goal Adelaide lead at the main break was enough of an edge for the home side to hold on. The Kangaroos had three separate goalkickers contribute to their team’s score with Ashleigh Riddell recording 27 disposals.

Despite some wayward kicking, North Melbourne still won its Round Five matchup against Fremantle, with the lone goal in the final term from Tahlia Randall contributing to the final result which was neck-and-neck for the entire game. The Kangaroos had three separate goalscorers kick one apiece with Jasmine Garner the top ball winner with 29 touches.

The Kangaroos were composed in their Round Seven battle against the Magpies, kicking four unanswered goals to start the game as they held onto that similar margin right until the very end. Jasmine Garner top-scored with three majors with Ashleigh Riddell having 30 disposals.

A five-game win streak was broken with North Melbournes’ loss to Melbourne, and while the side held its opponents scoreless in the final term, the 17-point buffer wasn’t enough to overcome, unhelped by North Melbourne’s own scoreless third term. Katie Ashmore and Jasmine Garner kicked a goal each as Ashleigh Riddell had a game-high 30 touches.

The Kangaroos were comprehensively beaten by the Lions in the penultimate round of the home and away season, as the Lions’ efficiency ensured they hit the scoreboard on most occasions to win by seven goals. Tahlia Randall and Jasmine Garner each kicked a goal while Ashleigh Riddell tallied a game-high 28 disposals.

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FORM IN PREVIOUS FINALS CAMPAIGNS:

This year will mark the third consecutive season in which North Melbourne has competed in the finals series; the club’s debut season in the competition in 2019 was the only instance where the side hasn’t played finals football.

In 2020, the Kangaroos finished the season in first place in Conference A and therefore made the semi-final, battling it out against Conference B’s fourth-placed finishers, the Magpies, winning by two points before the season was cancelled due to COVID-19.

In 2021, Collingwood and North Melbourne met once again in the first week after the conclusion of the home and away season, in an elimination final, yet, unfortunately for North Melbourne, it was the same result of a Collingwood victory, this time by a final margin of six points.

WHY THEY CAN WIN THE PREMIERSHIP:

The Kangaroos are a major ball-winning side in 2022, leading the disposals count among the rest of the competition, averaging 241.6 possessions per game, lead largely by Ashleigh Riddell topping the disposal count among players with 29.9 per game - her 299 regular season disposals beating the previous record of 222 -, including setting a new AFLW record of 42 touches against the Eagles in Round 10.

Maintaining possession, coupled with the controlled manner of their ball movement - leading the competition in marks with 53.1 per game -, the Kangaroos have focused on moving the ball forward with skill and taking a little more to size up options down the ground to have the best opportunity for scoring. 

The tactic of ball use has contributed to the club’s inside 50 count and high disposal efficiency, starting from all the way from their defenders, and importantly in the middle. Sarah Wright, Isabella Eddey and Jess Duffin all averaged over 81 per cent disposal efficiency, nestled in the top five in the league, indicating it’s controlled from all areas of the ground.

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WHY THEY CAN’T WIN THE PREMIERSHIP:

While North Melbourne’s slow but controlled ball movement is its favoured method of gaining metres going forward, it doesn’t always yield the results the club wants, that is, turning inside 50s into scores, and more so, goals.

While it’s usually a good sign to be winning the inside 50 count against their opponents, the Kangaroos scored from 39 per cent of their inside 50 entries - the lowest scoring efficiency of the six finalists, leading to a lack of composure inside 50, being unable to find open spaces and marking forwards, or simply, kicking to the advantage of defenders more than forwards.

FREMANTLE DOCKERS

2022 SEASON FORM - 5th (seven wins, three losses, 134.9%)

Round One v West Coast (Won by 28 points)
Round Two v Greater Western Sydney (Won by 32 points) 
Round Three v Richmond (Won by 30 points)
Round Four v Collingwood (Won by 31 points)
Round Five v North Melbourne (Lost by 10 points)
Round Six v Carlton (Won by 42 points)
Round Eight v Adelaide (Lost by nine points) 
Round Nine v Melbourne (Lost by 88 points) 
Extra match v Western Bulldogs (Won by six points)

The match against Geelong was cancelled 

It was a great start to the season for the Dockers, winning their first four matches with the winning margin between the first four rounds not dropping below 28 points. They, unfortunately, lost Kiara Bowers for a large chunk of the season but it was overall was a positive season.

2022 FORM VERSUS FELLOW FINALS TEAMS:

Fremantle has played four out of the five other top-six sides with Brisbane being the exception. Although it wasn’t the results that they wanted, the Dockers recorded only one win against a top-four side which was against the Magpies in Round Four.

It was absolute domination by the Dockers in the match against the Magpies, only allowing its opponents to score one goal for the game, not giving the Magpies an inch. Hayley Miller was the Dockers scoreboard hero kicking two goals, the only multiple goal kicker for the match. Aine Tighe was among the best for Fremantle, having 14 disposals but played a key role in shutting down the Collingwood forward line. 

In the next round, the Dockers went on to play the Kangaroos and unfortunately weren’t able to replicate the result from the week before. Despite keeping the Kangaroos to a solitary goal it wasn’t enough to get the Dockers the win. Hayley Miller was among the best for the Dockers with 20 disposals and nine tackles.

Fremantle came close against last season's runners-up in Adelaide, only going down by nine points. The Dockers were only able to kick two goals which came from draftee Airlie Runnalls and captain Hayley Miller, with the Crows' pressure being too good for the Dockers. Laura Pugh, Stephanie Cain and Runnalls were among the best for the Dockers, all having 21 disposals each. 

The clash against Melbourne would be one that Fremantle would rather forget, even after losing key personnel to health and safety protocols including both Kara Antonios and Emma O’Driscoll, it was going to be a hard task. The Dockers kicked three goals for the match from Makaela Tuhakaraina, Hayley Miller and Maggie Maclachlan. Miller and Dana East were among the best for the Dockers in the 88-point loss having 22 and 18 disposals respectively.

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FORM IN PREVIOUS FINALS CAMPAIGNS:

Fremantle's first finals campaign came in 2019 although it didn’t go the way that the club was hoping for, coming away with a 36 point loss to Carlton in a preliminary final. Gabby O’Sullivan kicked two goals for the Dockers and Kiara Bowers and Dana Hooker led the disposals with 13 and 12 respectively.

In 2020, it was a dominant display by Fremantle against Gold Coast, coming away with a 70-point win. Sabreena Duffy was dangerous up forward kicking three. Kiara Bowers, Ebony Antonio and Hayley Miller were among the best with 22 disposals for Bowers and 20 for both Antonio and Miller. Although unfortunately for the Dockers the season was cancelled due to COVID-19 so they couldn’t proceed to the next week's fixture. 

In 2021, the Dockers were knocked out in week one of the finals going down to Melbourne by 17 points in a qualifying final. Kiara Bowers was among the best with 20 disposals and 17 tackles.

WHY THEY CAN WIN THE PREMIERSHIP:

Much like Adelaide, Fremantle has a strong team with an even spread across the field. With the likes of Kiara Bowers, Kara Antonio, Hayley Miller and Airlie Runnalls in the midfield, Gemma Houghton, Roxy Roux and Ebony Antonio up forward and Janelle Cumbersome, Aine Tighe and Laura Pugh down back, there are threatening players anywhere across the ground, all capable of inflicting their own type of damage on the game and towards their opponents to help the team.

The game against Collingwood proved how much pressure the collective team can create, it will just be about adding that pressure against those top six sides on a weekly basis, and importantly, in finals fixtures.

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WHY THEY CAN’T WIN THE PREMIERSHIP:

The biggest concern for the Dockers is the fact that they’ve only beaten one of the top six sides that they’ve played during the home and away season. While for some of those matches they were missing some star power, it’s still concerning going into week one of the finals. 

The closest the Dockers went to beating one of those sides was against the Crows over at Fremantle Oval. They were still missing the likes of Kiara Bowers in the middle but they still weren’t able to combat that strong Crows side to be able to get that win but will need others to step up in the absence of that star power.

COLLINGWOOD MAGPIES

2022 SEASON FORM: 6th (six wins, four losses, 123.2%)

Round One v Carlton (Won by 19 points)
Round Two v St Kilda (Won by 27 points)
Round Three v Geelong (Won by 11 points)
Round Four v Fremantle (Lost by 31 points)
Round Five v Brisbane (Lost by 24 points)
Round Six v West Coast (Won by 24 points)
Round Seven v North Melbourne (Lost by 23 points)
Round Eight v Western Bulldogs (Won by 25 points)
Round Nine v Adelaide (Lost by two points)
Round 10 v Richmond (Won by 38 points)

Collingwood scraped into the finals series off the back of crucial wins in the final weeks of the regular season, and other results going the way of the club contributing to its final position. It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the Magpies either, getting to this stage of the season despite season-ending ACL injuries to co-captain Brianna Davey in Round One and Brittany Bonnici in Round Eight.

2022 FORM VERSUS FELLOW FINALS TEAMS:

There was only one fellow top-six side that Collingwood didn’t face in 2022, that being Melbourne, however, the club did compete against the other four, however, couldn’t find a win in either matchup, going down to Fremantle, Brisbane, North Melbourne and Adelaide.

Collingwood kicked just one goal for the game in its Round Four matchup with Fremantle and went scoreless for the entire second half as the opposition piled on the goals in the final quarter. Brittany Bonnici was the lone goalkicker for the Magpies as Sarah Rowe tallied 24 disposals.

The Magpies’ second loss in a row came at the hands of the Lions in Round Five, goalless until the third quarter, with the difference, and result also related to the three-goal-to-none second term. Eloise Chaston kicked the only goal of the game for Collingwood while Jamiee Lambert was the side’s top-disposal winner with 19 touches.

The opening term again plagued the Magpies, going goalless in the first and third quarters against the consistent Kangaroos in Round Seven. Amelia Velardo and Jaimee Lambert each kicked a goal for the Magpies while Ruby Schleicher recorded 20 possessions in the loss.

After a scoreless opening quarter, the Magpies almost completed a come-from-behind victory against the ladder-leading Crows in Round Nine, holding their opponents scoreless in the second quarter to trail by a point at halftime. Collingwood did edge ahead with the first goal of the second half but Adelaide snuck back to win by two points as Eliza James’ two goals and Ruby Schleicher’s 31 touches helped their side’s position during the contest.

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FORM IN PREVIOUS FINALS CAMPAIGNS:

2022 marks the third season in a row that Collingwood has qualified for the AFLW finals after reaching a semi-final in 2020, and a preliminary final in 2021, but have never progressed to a Grand Final.

In 2020, before the season was cancelled due to the impending threat of COVID-19, the Magpies finished fifth and played the Kangaroos in a semi-final, which they lost by two points.

Last season, the Magpies finished third and got their revenge on the Kangaroos in the qualifying final, beating them by six points. The next week, however, in the preliminary final, Collingwood fell to eventual premiers Brisbane by four points.

WHY THEY CAN WIN THE PREMIERSHIP:

Needing to respond early to a season without their co-captain in Brianna Davey, the Magpies won all the games they needed to and were expected to but the loss was still monumental as they also needed to find a way to work together without reliance on, and connection with their star midfielder and forward.

But, the Magpies found their mojo again in the final month of the season with an increased number of contested possessions, clearance and inside 50s in a resurgence to keep in contention for the finals series, creating a brand that the club will be looking to take in momentum into its first week matchup against the Dockers.

Throughout the first seven rounds, Collingwood averaged 28.4 points per game compared to its opponents 28.0 points per game for a 101.5 percentage. In the final three weeks of the season, Collingwood averaged 47.0 points compared to its opponents 26.7 points, for a 176.3 percentage as the goalkicking load was shared across the squad, and accurate too.

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WHY THEY CAN’T WIN THE PREMIERSHIP:

The most concerning factor in Collingwood’s push for a premiership this season is the fact that the club hasn’t beaten any of its fellow finalists throughout the season. While the Magpies didn’t face the Demons at any point during the regular season, that will be the matchup that awaits should they beat the Lions in the qualifying final, meaning anything could happen in a possible first matchup of 2022.

The Magpies have at times proven how close they can get to a victorious result against a fellow top-six side, coming within two points of the Crows in Round Nine. However, in those games against the Dockers, Lions, Kangaroos and Crows, the Magpies averaged 15.25 points - the Crows game bumping it up - compared to their opponents 35.25 points for a percentage of 43.3 against the top six.

The 2022 AFLW finals series begins on Saturday, March 19 with the qualifying final between the North Melbourne Kangaroos and Fremantle Dockers at Arden Street Oval from 2.10 pm AEDT.