Coming into Season 7, Belle Dawes had already developed a reputation as one of the most relentless players in the competition.
A hard nut midfielder who loves to take on the contest, the sight of Dawes wrapping up opponents and winning the contested ball has become a familiar sight to Lions fans.
And Season 7 has seen the young gun take her game to new heights.
Averaging 11 contested possessions and 6.6 tackles a game, compared to just 8.2 and 2.9 respectively last season, Dawes has found another gear this season.
Although it isn’t just Dawes upping the pressure in the midfield with the likes of Cathy Svarc, Ally Anderson and Emily Bates also getting stuck in around the contest, Dawes has been a key component of the Lions’ engine room this season.
In the first five games of Season 7, Dawes has registered nearly as many tackles as she did across 12 games in Season 6, with the Lions currently #1 in the competition for average number of tackles laid per game.
Add in the mix a career-best performance on Saturday against Richmond, and it’s clear to see that Dawes is only just getting started.
Gathering a game-high 23 possessions (15 contested) alongside seven tackles, seven clearances, five score involvements, six intercepts and 350 metres gained, the 21-year-old was a bright spark for the Lions in Saturday’s tightly fought contest.
Despite the result not going the way of the Lions, AFLW Head Coach Craig Starcevich praised the way Dawes took the game on in Saturday’s clash.
“She was fantastic,” Starcevich said.
“If you’re looking at things in the first five or ten minutes and you’re thinking “oh, we’re a fraction off here”, and then you see Belle bore in at ground level the way she does, it can’t help but inspire everyone else around her.
“She stood out, didn’t she? Even just from her attack on the ball.”