BRISBANE has got one hand firmly on the minor premiership, and Jesse Wardlaw the leading goalkicker award, after a big 54-point win over Hawthorn on Saturday evening.
Wardlaw kicked three goals, taking her season tally to 17, as the Lions beat the Hawks 1.1 (7) to 9.7 (61) at Skybus Stadium.
HAWKS v LIONS Full match coverage and stats
Hawthorn made it an arm wrestle early, not allowing any time or space for the Lions to use their outside run. As the opening quarter ticked on, however, Brisbane's professionalism came to the fore as the visitors piled on four goals, their highest scoring opening term of the season.
It was a tighter second quarter as the Hawks were able to control territory for longer periods of time and even up the inside 50 count to half time, thanks in part to Akec Makur Chuot's positioning just outside of the attacking 50, repeatedly intercepting Brisbane's attempts to exit. This control resulted in their opening goal via vice-captain Jess Duffin.
In her final AFLW game in Victoria, Duffin started in attack, with none other than Brisbane captain Breanna Koenen marking her, while swing player Tegan Cunningham was used in defence in an effort to contain Wardlaw.
The final term was effectively played in Brisbane's forward 50 arc but proved to be ping-pong between the Lions' peppering shots on goal and Hawthorn's desperate last line of defence. Due to this, it took Brisbane almost 10 minutes to break through for a goal, off the boot of Dakota Davidson.
Brisbane dominated at the contest, winning the clearances 21-31, with the rotating quartet of Ally Anderson, Emily Bates, Belle Dawes and Cathy Svarc proving a powerful force, while ruck Tahlia Hickie continued her strong season with 18 hitouts and three intercepts.
This was supported well by an experienced backline, which set up expertly to repeatedly move the ball to the open side of the ground, and from there moved with speed to isolate their many forward options.
Even when they were up against it, the Hawks looked to pick off aggressive kicks into the corridor as they worked to play an attacking brand of footy, although the speed that Hawthorn has made its signature in recent weeks was largely shut down by the Lions. This meant the likes of Tahlia Fellows, Aileen Gilroy and Kaitlyn Ashmore were instead forced to work in close, contested situations.
The Hawks now sit in 13th spot on the ladder with three wins and six losses, with one final game to play, while the Lions have all but secured the minor premiership with a handy percentage boost of 24.
Ally Anderson, All-Australian?
The inaugural Lion has been having a career-best season, and that only continued against the Hawks on Saturday evening. Strong and relentless around the ball, with her game-high 30 disposals, 10 clearances and 399m gained, Anderson led her team to victory from the middle. The Brisbane stalwart has earned an All-Australian call up once before and might just be on track for the second of her career.
Containing Brisbane's endless attack
As eight teams before the Hawks have had to ask, just how do you contain Brisbane's impressive attacking line? Well, coach Bec Goddard had options. Opting to swing Tegan Cunningham back into defence to play a direct role on Jesse Wardlaw, Catherine Brown was tasked with the rotation of Dakota Davidson/Taylor Smith deep, while the stingy Jenna Richardson had the challenge of Greta Bodey. Individually they each worked very hard, but ultimately the weight of numbers was just too much for the Hawks defence.
The Hawks will close out their maiden AFLW season with a trip to Western Australian to play a rejuvenated Fremantle outfit on Saturday evening, while Brisbane returns to its home away from home, Metricon Stadium, to host Collingwood on Friday night.
HAWTHORN 0.0 1.1 1.1 1.1 (7)
BRISBANE 4.0 5.1 7.4 9.7 (61)
Brisbane: Wardlaw 3, Davidson 2, Bates, Bodey, Conway, R.Svarc
Hawthorn: Makur Chuot, Fleming, Lucas-Rodd, Ashmore
Brisbane: Anderson, Wardlaw, Bates, Grider