It was another frustrating season for the GIANTS, resulting in head coach Alan McConnell ending his term at the helm. The side enjoyed famous wins over the Western Bulldogs and Geelong, but when reverting to its old formula really struggled to put a dent on the scoreboard.
Over the next few weeks, womens.afl will look at each of the seasons of the 14 AFLW teams in reverse ladder order.
Coach: Alan McConnell
Leadership group: Alicia Eva (captain), Nicola Barr, Chloe Dalton, Alyce Parker, Pepa Randall, Cora Staunton
2021 home and away finishing position: 9th, four wins and six losses, 74.1 per cent
Best team performance: In round four the Giants were without a number of key, experienced players as they took on the Western Bulldogs - a side returning from two weeks off the field due to health and safety protocols. Without important players Rebecca Beeson, Chloe Dalton, Tarni Evans, Georgia Garnett, Katie Loynes, Rebecca Privitelli or Pepa Randall the Giants found themselves playing creative, free football for the first time in an age, moving the ball forward with precision toward newfound targets Nicola Barr and Louise Stephenson. The pair combined for five goals as GWS enjoyed a 21-point victory.
Best individual performance: In the final home and away round of the season, the Giants took a trip to Geelong to face off with the Cats. Geelong got the fast start, but thanks to some flashy work up forward from Cora Staunton GWS came away with an 18 point win. Staunton kicked four goals for the game, taking her season tally to 18, while also laying five tackles and registering 305 metres gained. Staunton put the icing on the cake with an impressive snap under pressure in the dying moments to claim yet another goal of the week nomination.
NAB AFLW Rising Star nominations: Nil
Debutants: Ally Dallaway, Jess Doyle, Georgina Fowler, Ally Morphett, Brodee Mowbray, Emily Pease, Casidhe Simmons, Bris Stack (AFLW debut), Chloe Dalton, Jasmine Grierson, Katie Loynes (club debut)
Retirees: Yet to be announced
Delistings: Yet to be announced
Most improved: After being the very first player drafted in the AFLW, going at number one back in 2016, Nicola Barr really came into her own this season playing various new positions. Winning a career-high 12.9 average disposals, Barr wasn't restricted to the defensive wing we are so often seeing her in, instead becoming a realistic forward target during different periods, including three goals over the Western Bulldogs in round four.
Star recruit: Ally Dallaway might have been an inactive replacement signing but proved to be a vital cog in the Giants' midfield. She played all ten games, averaging 10.2 disposals and 5.3 tackles. Dallaway starred in round five as the Giants scraped over the line against St Kilda, winning a career-high 16 disposals and laying seven tackles, and formed an impressive partnership with fellow midfielders Alyce Parker and Alicia Eva.
Unsung hero: Pepa Randall's work as a dour key defender in the Giants' backline typically goes unnoticed but is one of the most important parts of the side's game. Typically tasked with the opposition's most dangerous key forward, Randall has the art of being a nuisance on a footy field down to a science, knowing when to niggle, when to hold off, and how to win crucial one-on-one battles.
- Blooding a number of new recruits this year, the Giants have unearthed some genuinely exciting talent. Ally Morphett has been a revelation in the ruck, Ally Dallaway a reliable on baller and Jess Doyle knows how to impact despite winning limited touches.
- A number of times this season the Giants started slowly, giving up early leads, but didn't drop their heads and battled strongly for the remainder of the game. This drive and persistence is really important and ultimately saw them challenge some good sides this year.
What needs improvement:
- When the side was forced to get creative, throw the magnets around and try new things it looked refreshed and played with an excitement rarely seen from those in orange and charcoal, but as soon as players returned, they reverted back to the same old game style that has brought minimal success. Finding more willingness to try new things and take risks would do the Giants well going forward.
- Going hand in hand is their reliance on too few players to carry the bulk of the load. The Giants have still won just two games since 2018 without Cora Staunton kicking a goal, and Staunton has kicked 27.2 per cent of the club's score in that time. Finding more reliable spread through the forward line and, to a lesser extend the midfield, is an important off season task for the club.
Early call for next season: Despite the likelihood of losing some players through expansion, a fresh perspective from a new coach will see a reborn Giants in season seven.
Season rating: 5/10