AFLW Round Table: How is the summer heat affecting the scores we're seeing?

Depth to be a big key for COVID-interrupted AFLW season (1:40)

The ESPN Footy Podcast's Marnie Vinall says teams with strong depth across every line are going to fare much better with the COVID challenges seen early in the AFLW season. (1:40)

Our AFLW experts tackle some of the burning questions ahead of the remainder of Round 4.

Was West Coast not sporting a pride guernsey a bad look?

Marnie Vinall: It was disappointing, frustrating and heartbreaking for the competition, particularly for those involved in the AFLW and Eagles community when they see every other team celebrating their special designs. I think it's safe to assume the West Coast players didn't stick their hand up and say 'we don't want a pride guernsey', so given it was a decision that was made probably without a lot, or any, of their input, is disappointing. But hey, at least they had a training singlet...

Marissa Lordanic: There is no doubting there would be a lot of people that were hurt by that decision, and then to be dunked on further by Michael Prior's comments is a real slap in the face. Here's my thought process: this could have been avoided if you just had a pride jumper for Pride Round! It's not like they wouldn't have known Pride Round was coming up - every other club did it, it was such an easy controversy to avoid!

Jesse Robinson: When every single other club releases a pride guernsey and you can see the impact it has at the ground and on social media, while one club lets its coach call the movement "done to death"... it's a terrible look and importantly misses out on the importance of the round that Marnie touched on in her review.

Do you think the summer heat is affecting the high scores/last-quarter surges we're seeing?

MV: I'm no doctor, but we do know that it does slow people down and spurs on fatigue in an athlete, and it potentially did, and has, had an affect this season. It slows the entire pace of a game down - noticeable in the Dees' run home against the Saints last week, ditto Freo's last quarter avalanche against Richmond. In the contrary, the Collingwood-Geelong game was the most hotly contested game of Round 3 and it was played at night time which I guess does support this theory.

ML: I think the heat does have something to do with the big scores we're seeing. We know it's a summer competition so playing in the hotter conditions is unfortunately inevitable, and the fact the Melbourne-St Kilda game was so close for three quarters could be put down both teams feeling sluggish and needing to really grind it out. Whether it be better conditioning, better recovery or another factor, the Demons and Dockers seemed to be able to leave their opponents in the dust which could prove to be a pattern for these early-season contenders.

JR: We've heard for years about how difficult summer preseason camps are on AFL footballers, imagine having to play a full match in that heat, and with less players on the ground... It absolutely has an impact and it's not really fair on the players.

Which player impressed you the most in Round 3?

MV: Everyone will be very surprised to hear that I'm saying Zimmie Farquharson. Twitter was going OFF about her during and after her performance, and fair enough! she debuted in absolute style; she looked very composed, she has so much pace and kicked a goal for good measure. She's one of those players that are incredibly exciting to watch, and I've got a feeling this is the start of something special.

ML: I'm with you, Marnie, Zimmie was unreal! We spoke about it in last week's podcast about how these young players step up as debutants and don't miss a beat, fitting in so seamlessly and looking confident and assured, and Zimmie was absolutely no exception. Twelve disposals, 10 kicks, five marks, one tackle and goal - and should have kicked more! Everything she did just looked so good. Rising Star, anyone?

JR: As great as Zimmie was, I have to go with the reliable Kiara Bowers who's stats had to be seen to be believed (28 disposals, 16 tackles, nine clearances) helping Fremantle to a record-breaking win.

Which Round 4 match are you most looking forward to?

MV: Adelaide-Melbourne. These sides have for the past three rounds been raging favourites by far, so this is a clash that is hard to pick but very enticing for the casual viewer and AFLW lover, and hopefully that's reflected in the game itself and it proves to be a highly contested contest. Phillips vs. Pearce, Woodland vs. Harris; there'll be players to look for everywhere and as we reach the halfway mark of the season, I think the side that wins this cements itself as the team to beat.

ML: Yet again, I'm gonna have to follow the leader! What's going to be a fascinating with this game is how Melbourne deals with it - the Crows have been somewhat unchallenged, strong, but they've been allowed to be strong. The Dees, however, haven't necessarily shown signs of weakness, but teams have been able to keep up with them throughout matches, and we saw this in their most recent outing against a lowly St Kilda. I'm just not sure the Crows will let them blast away late like they have been, so let's see how this one plays out.

JR: Adelaide and Melbourne is a potential Grand Final preview, the Adelaide defense squaring up with Tayla Harris and Daisy Pearce will be one to watch, while the midfields are both bursting with talent. There will be stars all over the ground, a good crowd... it's going to be a cracker!