Richmond will surely play finals this season, for the first time, on the back of five consecutive wins.
The Tigers loom as a dangerous opposition too.
Despite being hit by injury, they are still in the hunt for a top four finish, which will put them among the main contenders.
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After this round, there will be only three games to play and they will be at least one win and percentage ahead of whoever finishes Round 7 in ninth spot, after they beat West Coast by 19 points at Mineral Resources Park on Friday night.
The 6.7 (43) to 3.6 (24) victory also leaves the Tigers with a perfect 3-0 record against the Eagles in AFLW since both sides joined the league in 2020.
The Tigers are enjoying their best ever season.
The win in the West follows an earlier victory against Brisbane and narrow losses against other top sides, Adelaide (by nine points) and Geelong (four) in the first two rounds of the season.
Since slumping to 13th on the ladder after those first two losses, Richmond has not been beaten.
Its previous best tally of season wins was three, achieved in both of the previous two seasons.
The Tigers have plenty of chance to hone their game play for finals action with games to come against Carlton, Greater Western Sydney and North Melbourne, with the Kangaroos the only on that trio ahead of them on the AFLW ladder.
As well as Richmond is going this season, its final quarters have almost let it down.
On Friday night, the Tigers again led at three-quarter-time, for the sixth time in seven games.
Even in their two losses to start the season, against Geelong and Adelaide, they led at the last change.
The only time they have trailed going into the final quarter was in the Round 6 win over Gold Coast when they fought back from three points down to win by four.
Richmond had led West Coast by as much as 20 points late in the third term. But a goal from Emma Swanson half-way through the term brought the margin back to just eight points.
The Eagles were quickly back within six points with as many minutes to spare on the clock, having wasted a couple of difficult shots on goal.
But two Grace Egan goals late in the final term, who’d kicked only three goals over her previous 29 games, sealed the result for the Tigers.
They Tigers have kicked only 5.9 from seven final terms this season.
They will need to find a way to run out four quarters against more experienced opposition before finals start.
Rising star of Eagles defence
West Coast’s Charlie Thomas is emerging as one of the best and most reliable young defenders in the AFLW.
Remember, she has just turned 19 and played only her 17th game at the top level, against Richmond on Friday night.
With Sophie McDonald keeping tabs of the opposition’s key defender, Thomas is enjoying a terrific season in support.
McDonald did another great job against the Tigers, keeping the dangerous Courtney Wakefield goalless, although she did get a bit of the ball.
Thomas again showed a steady head and clean hands, rebounding many of Richmond’s 39 journeys inside their attack.
Thomas finished with a career best 23 touches on Friday night and took seven marks in defence.
She is already showing why West Coast was so keen to pick her up with its first pick of the 2021 draft.
Help coming in attack
Richmond’s season has been built on a miserly defence and they allowed only three goals in against the Eagles on Friday night.
They might have averaged only 27 points a game themselves this season, but have given up only just over 20 points per game at the other end.
They have played in five games decided by a single-figure margin; four of them by less than a kick and have won three of them.
The Tigers are only three straight kicks away from having not lost a game and being on top of the ladder.
Help is coming in attack also, with Katie Brennan due back from a foot injury.
With her, the Tigers will be dangerous at both ends of the ground.
Courtney Wakefield has led the Tigers attack this season with 7.8. She was goalless against the Eagles on Friday night, but has scored goals in four of seven games this season.
A few players have kicked goals in more than one game, but none more than two before Conti kicked a goal against the Eagles, the third time she has hit the scoreboard this season.
EAGLES 1.2 1.4 2.4 3.6 (24)
TIGERS 2.2 4.5 4.5 6.7 (43)
Eagles: Thomas, Swanson, McCarthy, Roberts, McDonald, Rowley.
Tigers: Conti, Egan, Sheerin, Wakefield, Dempsey, Macdonald.
GOALS Eagles: Simmons, Rowley, Swanson. Tigers: Kiely, Conti, Reid, Sheerin, Egan.
INJURIES Eagles: B Smith (knee). Tigers: Molan (head knock).
UMPIRES Evans, Mollison, Wharton
VENUE Mineral Resources Park.
3 Conti (TIGERS)
2 Egan (TIGERS)
1 Thomas (EAGLES)
BLUES KEEP SEASON ALIVE
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It started with two blistering wins against newcomers Sydney and Hawthorn, but St Kilda’s season died a brutal death in its 27-point loss to the Blues.
It means the Saints have lost five in a row and leaves them needing to win all their remaining games with other results going their way to have any chance of finals. It won’t happen.
It’s a shattering result for the Saints who would’ve backed themselves to knock the Blues off after letting a certain victory slip against the high-flying Pies last week.
Carlton has moved to within a win and percentage of the top-eight and set up a mammoth clash against Richmond next Friday night and with games against Gold Coast and Western Bulldogs to follow an unlikely finals berth is not out of the question.
They were the first player to kick 50 AFLW goals, but outside of a three-goal performance against Essendon Darcy Vescio had suffered a stinking season up forward for the Blues.
The marquee forward had struggled to find the footy and get involved in games, but an inspired move with the magnets by Daniel Harford reinvigorated the 29-year-old’s season.
The Carlton coach stationed Vescio across half back and by halftime the switch had already paid off in spades.
Vescio led allcomers for intercepts with five and provided much needed bounce out of defence for the Blues.
It may be a move Carlton sticks with as it pushes for a spot in the top eight late in the season and needs extra surety in the back half.
Vescio finished with 15 disposals and a game-high for both metres gained (346m) and intercepts (10).
Her side may have been trailing at quarter-time, but Rosie Dillon put together in a term what most players would consider a successful outing.
Dillon was everywhere early for the Saints and despite the two-goal deficit the home side faced she was best on by the length of the Flemington straight.
The 26-year-old had the ball on a string, notching 11 touches as she dominated the midfield with four clearances.
She was able to use the footy effectively, gaining her side 138m, thrusting them forward to hand her side two early scoring chances that were wasted.
Unfortunately she gave away a free kick in the shadows of quarter-time that handed Blues’ skipper Kerryn Peterson Carlton’s second goal deep inside 50.
Dillon finished with a career-high 19 touches, seven clearances and four tackles.
GOAL OF THE YEAR
Jess Dal Pos’ seventh career goal was one to remember, so much so that it could be goal of the year.
The 29-year-old roved the ball from a Rebecca Ott dropped mark deep in the forward pocket of RSEA Park.
Almost facing backwards, Dal Pos had no right to centre the ball let alone have a shot as St Kilda defenders bared down on her from all angles.
But the 54-game veteran took one step and threw the ball on her boot, bending it with a kick that looked like it would take it away from the goal mouth.
But Dal Pos, in the blink of an eye, had judged the snap to perfection, sliding it through on the angle to kick one of the more memorable goals of the season.
SAINTS 0.2 0.2 0.2 2.5 17
BLUES 2.2 4.2 5.7 6.8 44
Saints: Dillon, Vesely, Patrikios, Jakobsson.
Blues: Moody, McKay, Vescio, Hill, Peterson, McEvoy.
GOALS Saints: Matin 2. Blues: Moody 2, Peterson, Skepper, Dal Pos, Pound.
INJURIES Saints: Nalder (concussion). Blues: nil.
VENUE RSEA Park
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
JAMES MOTTERSHEAD’S VOTES
3 B Moody (CARL)
2 A McKay (CARL)
1 D Vescio (CARL)