In the second of a two-part series reviewing the 2022 rebel VFLW season, VFL reporter Brendan Rhodes assesses the teams that finished outside the top six.
Continue below for a club-by-club review of the teams who missed out on finals action in 2022.
Click here to for a review of each of the finalists.
W-L-D (%): 6-8-0 (73.97)
Players used: 42
Played every match: E McGrath, J Mourney, A Scott, S Skinner
Longest winning streak: 3 (Rounds 8-10)
Best win: Round 9: North Melbourne 4.11 (35) def Darebin 3.4 (22)
Biggest win: Round 13: North Melbourne 8.2 (50) def Western Bulldogs 2.3 (15)
Longest losing streak: 4 (Rounds 1-4)
Worst loss: Round 4: North Melbourne 1.2 (8) lost to Darebin 3.6 (24)
Biggest Loss: Round 7: North Melbourne 2.2 (14) lost to Essendon 13.10 (88)
Lambert-Pearce Medal: E McGrath 8, T Craven 6, J Duffin 6
Coaches MVP: A Scott 43, E McGrath 30, J Duffin 19
Top 3 goalkickers: S Skinner 12, B Gibson 5, E Paterno 5
VFLW TOP 10 STATS
Disposals: A Scott 271 (8th)
Marks: A Scott 54 (9th)
Hitouts: E McGrath 364 (3rd)
What went right: A small step forward, lifting from five wins and 63% in 2021 to six and nearly 74% in 2022, despite using just 10 AFLW-listed players for a total of 43 matches. Former Western Bulldogs player Annabel Scott was one of the best players in the competition and skipper Molly Eastman and Tasmanian import Sarah Skinner earned AFL contracts with the Sydney Swans. They won the games they were expected to win, but the victories over Darebin, Port Melbourne and Carlton in consecutive weeks gave their supporters extra reason to be optimistic about 2023.
What went wrong: Their hopes of making the finals were dashed early when they lost their first four games, with the rise of Hawthorn ensuring that early fixture was extremely difficult in hindsight. The Round 7 and 8 losses to the Hawks and Bombers (47 and 74 points) show how much more improvement is still needed, but the gains were there for all to see.
Summary: There was a clear gap in the end between the top six and bottom six teams, so North’s effort to be ranked as the best of the rest in only their second season is something to be proud of. As said above, there is still a fair bit to do, but Hawthorn showed just how quickly a team can climb the ladder if they can get all their ducks in a row.
W-L-D (%): 5-9-0 (54.05)
Players used: 33
Played every match: A Gunn, G Lawson-Tavan
Longest winning streak: 4 (Rounds 4-7)
Best win: Round 1: Darebin 6.1 (37) def Williamstown 5.4 (34)
Biggest win: Round 6: Darebin 12.12 (84) def Western Bulldogs 0.4 (4)
Longest losing streak: 7 (Rounds 8-14)
Worst loss: Round 14: Darebin 3.4 (22) lost to Port Melbourne 3.6 (24)
Biggest loss: Round 3: Darebin 0.2 (2) lost to Hawthorn 9.14 (68)
Lambert-Pearce Medal: N Callinan 9, N Celebre 7, A Gogos 6
Coaches MVP: N Callinan 43, A Gogos 37, A Mifsud 11
Top 3 goalkickers: A Mifsud 9, E Mackay 7, S Simpson 4, S Cowley Du Parquet 4
VFLW TOP 10 STATS
Hitouts: S Lynch 327 (4th)
What went right: The first seven rounds. The Falcons looked like the Darebin of old as they won five games, their best return since 2018, with the experienced Nicole Callinan and recruit Angelica Gogos leading from the front. Their comeback from five goals to none down at quarter-time against Williamstown in Round 1 was as good as anything they had done since the 2016-17 flags and they backed it up by beating North Melbourne and then Carlton (for the first time in four years).
What went wrong: The last seven rounds. The Falcons lost Gogos to injury and couldn’t overcome the blow, falling to seven consecutive losses to slide out of finals contention. They did front five of the top six in a row during that period so they were never expected to keep the run going, but they would have hoped to perform better against the Kangaroos, a struggling at-the-time Collingwood and Port Melbourne in the last game.
Summary: The Falcons brought a club legend home as coach in Kate Tyndall and it didn’t take long for signs of the glory days to show themselves. Callinan and Gogos lifted the team onto their shoulders, while Gena Lawson-Tavan, Naomi Celebre and Alyssa Mifsud had good seasons, among others. They were the most stable team in the competition with just 33 players used and only four debutants and if Tyndall can lure some of her great former teammates home to help develop the new breed, Darebin’s future looks just fine.
W-L-D (%): 4-9-1 (65.55)
Players used: 40
Played every match: A Bild, M Di Cosmo, B Gurr, A Klingbeil
Longest winning streak: 1 (4 occasions)
Best win: Round 2: Carlton 5.3 (33) def Southern Saints 3.7 (25)
Biggest win: Round 14: Carlton 13.7 (85) def Western Bulldogs 0.2 (2)
Longest losing streak: 3 (Rounds 3-5)
Worst loss: Round 5: Carlton 3.4 (22) lost to Darebin 4.6 (30)
Biggest loss: Round 1: Carlton 2.2 (14) lost to Geelong 11.7 (73)
Lambert-Pearce Medal: J Borg 5, A Bild 3, J Lew 3, T Nicolaou 3, R Wilcox 3
Coaches MVP: A Klingbeil 32, L Goss 30, M Di Cosmo 23
Top 3 goalkickers: S Lawrence 10, M Cowan 7, A Klingbeil 5, S Gibbs 5
VFLW TOP 10 STATS
Hitouts: J Borg 380 (2nd)
What went right: The Blues went into the season with high hopes and knocking off eventual grand finalist Southern Saints in Round 2 followed by a first-ever victory over arch-rival Collingwood in Round 7 showed what they were capable of. Millie Klingbeil and rookie Lily Goss had strong years, while Jorja Borg averaged almost 30 hitouts per game to give her midfielders plenty of opportunities. While the Bulldogs struggled, the way Carlton put them away in Round 14 gave them confidence to attack next year’s VFLW season.
What went wrong: Apart from those two impressive wins, the Blues only managed two victories over the winless Bulldogs and a draw with second-bottom Williamstown, so it was a step backwards from last year’s six-win campaign. And apart from an eight-point loss to Darebin, the first time they’ve lost to their next-door neighbour since 2018, they were convincingly beaten in every other game.
Summary: A disappointing season for the Blues, especially given the way it started. They were the only club to give at least one game to every VFLW player on their list, which will stand them in good stead for the future, but their struggle up forward was crippling, with only Steph Lawrence (10) reaching double figures in goals – and her tally included a six-goal bag in the last game.
W-L-D (%): 3-11-0 (46.07)
Players used: 43
Played every match: K Adams, K O’Keefe
Longest winning streak: 1 (3 occasions)
Best win: Round 4: Port Melbourne 5.13 (43) def Carlton 3.5 (23)
Biggest win: Round 4: Port Melbourne 5.13 (43) def Carlton 3.5 (23)
Longest losing streak: 5 (Rounds 9-13)
Worst loss: Round 6: Port Melbourne 3.4 (22) lost to Williamstown 7.10 (52)
Biggest loss: Round 11: Port Melbourne 2.2 (14) lost to Hawthorn 15.12 (102)
Lambert-Pearce Medal: S Locke 6, A Peterson 6, C Dyett 3, S Molan 3
Coaches MVP: C Dyett 21, S Locke 19, O Barton 18
Top 3 goalkickers: S Locke 6, B Wilson 5, I Stutt 4, E Harley 4, S Dargan 4
VFLW TOP 10 STATS
Tackles: K O’Keefe 100 (6th), C Bromage 92 (7th)
Hitouts: K Dudley 240 (7th)
What went right: The Borough were a second-year team in the competition and did it largely as a standalone entity, with Richmond players featuring only fleetingly during the season. But they still produced some strong performances, with the win over Carlton in Round 4 standing out, while they also pushed the Casey Demons, North Melbourne and Collingwood and finished the season on a high with the gutsy victory over Darebin in the last game.
What went wrong: The lack of Richmond players denied Port vital experience and star power, with only five Tigers fronting during the season for a combined 18 games and two of those having entered the season with just one VFLW game between them.
Summary: The second-year blues caught up with Port as it dropped from third (before finals) to third last, but as mentioned above there were significant reasons for that. They had 22 debutants, a huge number for what was virtually a standalone club and will be better for the experience. If they can see more Tigers back on ETU Stadium next year, they can expect a fast bounce back.
W-L-D (%): 2-11-1 (64.33)
Players used: 41
Played every match: E Baxter, G Biedenweg-Webster, S Bridgewater
Longest winning streak: 1 (two occasions)
Best win: Round 6: Williamstown 7.10 (52) def Port Melbourne 3.4 (22)
Biggest win: Round 2: Williamstown 8.9 (57) def Western Bulldogs 1.1 (7)
Longest losing streak: 4 (Rounds 7-10)
Worst loss: Round 1: Williamstown 5.4 (34) lost to Darebin 6.1 (37)
Biggest loss: Round 4: Williamstown 2.1 (13) lost to Essendon 10.5 (65)
Lambert-Pearce Medal: R Tripodi 8, E Meade 6, G Biedenweg-Webster 4, S McCarthy 4
Coaches MVP: R Tripodi 43, A Whelan 38, J Kawa 22
Top 3 goalkickers: S McCarthy 10, L Stepnell 5, E Straford 4, E Mangan 4, E Baxter 4, E Cleland 4
VFLW TOP 10 STATS
Kicks: S Whiting 205 (3rd)
Tackles: T Dinuccio 80 (9th)
Hitouts: A Sarec 219 (9th)
What went right: The Seagulls got plenty of games into their young squad, with 17 debutants and plenty of strong performers, including Gabrielle Biedenweg-Webster, who was picked up by Gold Coast AFLW, Ruby Tripodi, Sharnie Whiting, Aimee Whelan, Jasmine Kawa, Sophia McCarthy and skipper Erin Meade. A big away win over arch-rival Port Melbourne was the highlight of the year, while they pushed many of the top teams and their defence showed a marked improvement – 52 points was their biggest defeat, a losing margin surpassed by all the other five non-finalists.
What went wrong: Hard to go past that opening round game against the Falcons when they kicked 5.2 to 0.0 in the first quarter, only to manage just two more behinds for the rest of the day and go down by three points. They also had their chances against Carlton and North Melbourne but couldn’t quite get over the line.
Summary: On face value, the Seagulls only matched last year’s 2½-win season, but there were positives to take out of almost every game in 2022. They increased their percentage from 44 to 64 and challenged grand finalists the Southern Saints (16 points), third-placed Casey (21), fourth-placed Hawthorn (14), sixth-placed Collingwood (20), the seventh-placed Kangaroos (two), eighth-placed Darebin (three and 12) and ninth-placed Carlton (draw) while recording big wins over Port (10th) and the Bulldogs (12th). The signs are there.
W-L-D (%): 0-14-0 (16.15)
Players used: 53
Played every match: M Sandral, L Schneider
Longest losing streak: 14
Worst loss: Round 1: Western Bulldogs 0.0 (0) (Best: Barnes, Hards, Schneider) lost to Essendon 15.8 (98)
Biggest Loss: Round 5: Western Bulldogs 1.1 (7) lost to Hawthorn 16.12 (108)
Lambert-Pearce Medal: T Delgado 2, B Gutknecht 2
Coaches MVP: E Vale 29, E Morrison 13, L Schneider 13
Top 3 Goalkickers: M Sandral 7, A Xanthos 3, J Webster 2, M Marks 2
VFLW TOP 10 STATS
Disposals: L Schneider 316 (4th)
Kicks: L Schneider 200 (7th)
Marks: E Vale 70 (2nd), L Schneider 54 (10th)
Handballs: L Schneider 116 (7th)
Hitouts: J Morrow 257 (6th)
What went right: The Bulldogs used a competition-high 53 players across their 14 defeats and almost half of them (25) were debutants, meaning they were always behind the eight-ball experience-wise. But they still pushed the Saints twice, kicking two of their three highest scores against the eventual grand finalists, and very nearly pinched what would have been a monumental win over Collingwood in Round 12. Lucy Schneider and Eliza Vale were real bright spots throughout the year.
What went wrong: Having played in the 2019 Grand Final and just missed the top six in 2021, it has been a huge fall for the Bulldogs, and the writing was on the wall from the time they were held scoreless by Essendon in Round 1. They only had eight AFLW-listed players line up for a total of 24 games and at times had none at all, which made it extremely difficult to be competitive. Only Collingwood and Port Melbourne failed to set a scoring or margin record against the Bulldogs this year.
Summary: Kirby Bentley unfortunately didn’t have a great deal to work with this season, but she impressed enough to earn a promotion onto Essendon’s AFLW coaching staff. Schneider and Vale were among those to improve, while the results in the last month (Round 14 excluded) showed there is something to work with heading into 2023.