AFLW mid-season review: Surprises, standouts and disappointments

Giants will 'never forget' Jacinda Barclay (1:12)

GWS star Alyce Parker remembers the life and legacy of the late Jacinda Barclay, and says her former teammate remains a big part of the values and attitudes currently lived by at the Giants. (1:12)

We've reached the midway point of the 2022 AFLW season and it's time to pause and take stock of where the competition stands, as we prepare to turn for home with everyone still chasing the reigning premiers.

Read on for the mid-season review.

Biggest surprise

Many were left dumbfounded when Richmond found their third win of the season against the previously undefeated and current ladder-leading Brisbane Lions.

The Lions entered the clash as an expected sure bet but were left shocked when they ended the day four points behind the Tigers. Even more impressive was that they did it without some of their key players including Katie Brennan and Sarah Hosking.

The Lions are strong contenders for the flag, having already played in three Grand Finals and winning one, while it took Richmond 386 days and 11 matches to find their first AFLW win after entering the competition in 2020, finishing just shy of the wooden spoon almost every season since.

Standout team

It's a tight tussle between the Lions and the Adelaide Crows but the reigning premiers just never cease being the dominant force in the competition -- no surprises here. They have a lower percentage than the Lions but sit on the same points, however they've bounced back from the loss of the prolific Erin Phillips to Port Adelaide impressively, suggesting they have the strength to remain contenders despite significant list changes.

They're currently sitting second on the ladder behind the Lions, who have also only lost one game, but Adelaide's depth is unquestionable and so is their consistency.

With a star-studded side including the likes of Chelsea Randall, Mariana Racjic, McKenzie Dowrick, Ash Woodland, Anne Hatchard and Ebony Marinoff they've been able to recalibrate without Phillips and remain a near indomitable force.

In the Grand Final rematch against the Demons in Round 1, it looked like it may not be the usual dominance from the Crows when they lost, but they've since avenged defeat and managed to clock the biggest win in AFLW history (96 points), simultaneously keeping GWS to the lowest ever score in that game. They've won their four matches since the opening week and will no doubt be up the again when the whips are cracking.

Best player so far

Ebony Marinoff of the Adelaide Crows is a force to be reckoned with. To date, she has an average of 24.8 disposals, 430.6 metres gained, 13.4 contested possessions and 10.2 tackles, seeing her in the top five of the league almost completely across the board.

She was best on ground when the Crows annihilated the Giants last round by 96 points, the biggest winning margin in AFLW history, opening the scoring for the match and finishing with a career high of 36 disposals, 12 tackles, eight inside 50s and seven clearances. There's no other way to put it, she's an absolute star of this competition.

Biggest disappointment

Georgie Prespakis has emerged as the star we all hoped she would be, becoming the youngest player to notch 32 disposals in an AFLW game in Round 4, an average of 13 contested possessions and 5.6 clearances a game and following in the footsteps of her star older sister, Essendon's Maddy.

While she hasn't topped the stats for best performer, her promise and consistency is undoubtable. However, we've hit a road bump this week, with the Cat being handed a two-week suspension for a heavy tackle in Round 5 on St Kilda's Erin McKinnon.

This ruling means Prespakis will miss Geelong's games against the Western Bulldogs and a showdown against her sister when they face Essendon next week.

Moment of the season

Sophie Locke dedicates Hawks' AFLW first ever goal to late Mum, Sarah

The Hawks faced Essendon in both sides' first ever AFLW games to a packed-out crowd at Melbourne's Marvel Stadium, where youngster Sophie Locke made her debut in the brown and gold. It was a story straight from a fairy tale when Locke earned herself a free kick at the top of the goal square and closed the deal with a major, but it was the story behind it which will go down in history.

Sophie had lost her mother, Sarah, to cancer just a fortnight earlier, and she kissed her black armband and pointed to the sky as her teammates emotionally lifted her up in elation. Her father, sister and many of her local footy and netball club were in the crowd for her, and the roar after that goal won't soon be scratched from memory.