AFLW Round 1 is done, so it’s time to start jumping to all sorts of conclusions.
A little early for conclusions?
Welcome to football, where it’s never too early for a good conclusion.
First of all, we can conclude that the rate of scoring hasn’t improved and we are in for a season of soccer scores again.
It’s a fine conclusion, unless you look at the details.
One-handed or two? Giant, Lion or Blue?
— AFL Women's (@aflwomens) February 10, 2020
The game in Sydney between Greater Western Sydney and Gold Coast was played in 200 millimetres of rain and on a day when horse racing was cancelled.
We won’t run horses around a track on days like that, but expect players to put on a high-scoring shootout.
The same applies to the game at Casey Fields between North Melbourne and Melbourne.
Casey Fields is possibly the windiest sporting facility in the history of sporting facilities.
You can all but rule out scoring at one end of the ground.
The game at Moorabbin had an equally vicious wind for the players to contend with.
If you add in the detail that games average 70 minutes instead of more than 100 for the men, then the conclusion doesn’t stack up so well any more.
Already we can conclude that the conference system will once more be a blight on the game.
The anomaly that has everyone up in arms is that North Melbourne lost its game and currently sits third in their conference.
Remember the top three teams from each conference make the finals.
North’s opponent Melbourne, the winners, sits fifth in its conference and out of the finals.
After Round 1 this is enough evidence for some to suggest the season is ruined.
Good news is that there are some who quite sensibly suggested that we should wait at least until maybe Round 6 or 7 before we jump to conclusions that the conference system is again a bust.
Would I prefer everyone to play each other once and do away with conferences?
Absolutely I would, but until that day we have conferences so how about we just wait and see for a few weeks before condemning them?
The two preseason favourites lost their opening-round matches so in good football vernacular, they are gone.
Adelaide has too many injuries and rely on too few, and North are all duck and no dinner.
I pity the team who believes this rubbish and underestimates either team.
Speaking of losers … because all four expansion teams lost we can conclude any number of things.
Such as the league wasn’t ready for four teams, there isn’t enough talent to go around, they won’t win a game and even that it will delay any further expansion of the competition.
Having watched all the expansion teams closely in the lead up to the start of the season, I guarantee you they will win games.
Probably the most likely is St Kilda, which took a different tack from some other expansion teams.
Instead of going for the high-profile players they concentrated on getting even talent that they could develop into a great team.
Mark my words they will surprise a few teams.
The Saints do however have a leg up on the opposition as they did have a VFLW team for the previous two seasons.
Many of the players played together under the same head coach in Peta Searle and already have a great synergy.
Richmond likewise had a VFLW season to prepare many members of their team.
It is tougher for the clubs like Gold Coast and West Coast whose players had one official practice game, yes one, before fronting up in Round 1.
If you don’t think they will improve as the season progresses, then you are delusional.
Finally, let’s discuss the skill level on display.
Coming off one practice match, playing at grounds without huge grandstands or a roof to shield the elements,
I think the players’ skills were markedly advanced on previous seasons. And it will keep improving as the season moves along and players become more accustomed to match conditions.
I suppose what I am asking for is common sense to prevail and for people to look at the facts and the positives.
Huge crowds returned, interest is higher than ever, and the product is outstanding.
I think these points are a good place to conclude.
Nathan Burke is a former St Kilda captain who played 323 AFL games for the Saints, winning three Trevor Barker Awards as best-and-fairest player.