It wasn’t pretty, but AFLW just needs time
THE growing pains are real for AFLW.
You had to look no further than the first half of Friday night's season opener between Richmond and Carlton to see that.
One of four new teams entering the competition this year, the Tigers went into the main break with just two behinds to their name from a measly four inside-50s.
The Blues - grand finalists in 2019 - had kicked just 1.8 themselves, despite dominating with 22 entries into their scoring arc.
But it was a fierce contest and there were some moments of brilliance - particularly from two young Carlton rising stars in Madison Prespakis and Lucy McEvoy.
But for the most part it was not particularly pretty footy.
And given the AFLW's rapid expansion - Gold Coast, St Kilda and West Coast are also new teams this year after North Melbourne and Geelong joined last season - there might be a few more halves like it to come.
"I think it does take a bit of getting in and embedding a club into the competition and I know that Geelong and North Melbourne saw that last year," AFLW boss Nicole Livingstone said.
"We just need to allow Richmond to get themselves into this competition and learn what it's all about. These are baby steps at the moment as they learn, as a club, what AFLW's all about.
"They'll get better from here. It's the opening night nerves and just experiencing AFLW for the first time."
As it often does in AFLW, scoring opened up in the second half.
The match ended up producing a combined eight goals, but Livingstone said scoring should not necessarily be the measure of a good match.
"I think we concentrate on the battle that's taking place on field rather than thinking, 'How can we get more scoring going?'" she said.
"Because I see the football skills there and the football skills are improving year on year.
"We've got a big first round and, importantly, we've gone from the first couple of years having 28 matches to having 61 matches in total. So there's more opportunity for girls to learn the craft and hone their skills."
Sabrina Frederick made history as Richmond's first goalkicker in AFLW, scoring in the final quarter.
The key forward moved to Punt Rd this year after being part of the Brisbane Lions' first AFLW game in 2017, so she knows what it is like to be part of a brand-new team.
"More than half of the team were playing their first AFLW game and I think people need to realise and respect that Carlton played in the grand final last year, they've played together for three years. We're a new team," Frederick said.
"We showed great promise in that last quarter and to do that against a team like that when you're five goals down, I think we definitely have it in us. You know what, it might turn sooner than you think."
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