IT WAS the first round of AFLW footy with margins of one, two, three and four points, while some of the best sides in the competition reminded everyone why they sit at the top of the ladder.
Each week Gemma Bastiani will look at a key talking point in each game in this handy wrap up, just in case you missed it.
Clever footy wins out
To open the round Hawthorn jagged its second win in as many weeks off the back of some very clever footy. Playing in a significant wind, the Hawks made clear positioning decisions quarter to quarter based on said breeze. When they were up against it, All-Australian defender Jess Duffin prowled the backline. When they did have it, she sat at the top of the goal square and repeatedly marked the Hawks' long bombs into attack thanks to her elite ball reading ability. She ended up kicking three goals in the second quarter, ultimately proving the difference in the game, in what was a masterstroke from coach Bec Goddard.
Chelsea Randall makes history
Adelaide captain Chelsea Randall made history on Friday night, winning the very first Showdown Medal in her best-on-ground performance. She kicked three goals in the opening half, a career best, as she set a high standard for her team in a real captain's performance. Randall finished the game with 27 disposals at 70.4 per cent efficiency, nine score involvements, 380 metres gained, seven clearances and the medal rightfully hanging around her neck.
For the Giants, it's a mental game
In recent seasons the Giants have developed a similar pattern. Lose big, then bounce back with strength in the following game. The problem has always been in their inability to sustain that spirited performance across multiple weeks. This season we have seen it again. A record-breaking loss to Adelaide last week, backed up by a 17-point win over a struggling Carlton side. This week's win is no doubt good for morale, but the Giants need to take that feeling and carry it through the remainder of the season, lest they become a broken record.
The Cats are the real deal
Plenty of people would be forgiven for remaining apprehensive about just how good Geelong is after its hammering of a depleted Saints side last week, but after a tight win over the Dogs without young star Georgie Prespakis, the Cats have stamped their top-eight credentials. Nina Morrison took up Prespakis' place on the ball and played arguably the best game of her career, registering 21 disposals, eight clearances and 10 tackles. But it wasn't just Morrison; the spread of work right across the park for Geelong was impressive, and the epitome of a team win.
Hannah Stuart has arrived
In what was a heartbreaking loss for St Kilda, Hannah Stuart was the side's best in just her sixth game. Known in the VFLW for her ability to win the ball and thrive at the contest, it has taken Stuart a couple of weeks to find that at AFLW level, but on Saturday she seemed to hit her stride. Winning a game-high 25 disposals, four clearances, 364 metres gained and kicking two goals, Stuart did everything in her power to propel the Saints over the line against Collingwood, only for them to fall agonisingly short.
The Tigers continue to bag clutch wins
Last week it was toppling ladder-leaders Brisbane without Katie Brennan, Sarah Hosking or Bec Miller. This week it was a desperate grind without Ellie McKenzie, Hosking, or Miller against Gold Coast to claim a club-high fourth win for the season. Even as the Suns controlled the ball through the second and third quarters, the Tigers dug in and never allowed the margin to exceed nine points. Richmond's last month of footy has been packed with character building wins that may just result in its maiden finals appearance.
A star's successful return
Just 266 days after rupturing her ACL in the opening round of last season, Brisbane's star defender Kate Lutkins made a successful return to the field in her side's big win over the Bombers on Sunday. It was a quiet day for the star, with just the seven disposals and two intercepts thanks to the Lions' territory control. But making it through the game unscathed will be the club's main focus, after Gabby Collingwood and Lily Postlethwaite had less positive experiences when coming back from their respective ACLs in recent seasons, both leaving the field early having suffered another rupture early in their return games.
Is Kiara Bowers the best player in the competition?
Yes, Kiara Bowers has already won a competition best and fairest - alongside Collingwood co-captain Brianna Davey - but it seems that she has taken that to a whole new level this season. After a slower start as she felt the effects of a heavily interrupted preseason, Bowers is hitting her straps and it is no coincidence that Fremantle's improved form has coincided with that. Against Melbourne she won 26 disposals, eight intercepts and six clearances, laid 12 tackles delivered the ball inside 50 eight times and registered 385 metres gained in one of the most complete performances ever seen in the AFLW.
The Swans are winless but not without hope
Despite sitting winless at the bottom of the ladder and being held goalless for the second time this season, Sydney is finding the positives in the small moments. Against a classy North Melbourne outfit on Sunday, coach Scott Gowans made decisions that would teach his players long term lessons. Prized number one draft pick Montana Ham spent the evening running with Jasmine Garner, Sofia Hurley had the job on Jenna Bruton and Bridie Kennedy, a role on Emma Kearney. While soundly beaten, Gowans backed in his young players to continue to be aggressive and attacking, which will put them in good stead for the duration of their careers.