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Brisbane Lion Ally Anderson wins AFLW best and fairest, Hannah Ewings named rising star

Brisbane Lion Ally Anderson says she is "shocked" and in "disbelief" over her surprise AFLW best and fairest victory.

Remarkably, Anderson became the first winner in AFLW history not to make the All-Australian team, and finished 11th in the AFL Coaches' Association (AFLCA) Champion player award.

She is also the second Brisbane Lion to win the award over the last two seasons, following teammate Emily Bates earlier this year.

Asked if she had considered herself a chance of winning the medal, Anderson replied "not even a little bit".

"Obviously, if you watched my speech, I wasn't very prepared," she told a press conference after the count.

"So I probably didn't sound great on stage, but I just had absolutely no idea [I would win]."

Reflecting on her omission from the All-Australian team, the 28-year-old was typically humble.

"I guess it was disappointing [to miss out]," she said.

"But I was so happy for my teammates who made it, so at the end of the day it didn't really matter to me.

"I guess I had a consistent year, but I was surrounded by such great teammates, and that's sort of what got me over the line."

A proud Ghangalu woman, Anderson also becomes the second First Nations player to take out the AFLW's highest individual honour, after Dja Dja Wurrung woman Maddy Prespakis in 2020.

Anderson said the cultural significance of her win had hit her after teammate Courtney Hodder congratulated her with a hug.

"I was just sort of like, oh yeah, I'm the first Indigenous Brisbane Lions player to wear this medal," Anderson said.

"It's such an exciting feeling. It makes me really proud, and you know, if young girls can sort of look at me and be like, that's a pathway that they want to take, then that means a lot to me."

Anderson finished the count on 21 votes, two ahead of the hot favourite, Richmond midfielder Mon Conti.

The Brisbane midfielder began the final round of the count one vote ahead of Conti, before Conti polled two votes for her game against North Melbourne.

But, in a thrilling finish, Anderson was awarded best on ground for her 26-possession game against Collingwood, leapfrogging Conti. It was her third three-vote performance in a row to round out a barnstorming end to the season.

The count was close all night, with five players (Anderson, Conti, Ebony Marinoff, Alyce Parker and Maddy Prespakis) within one vote of each other with two rounds remaining.

In one of the quirks of the evening, pre-count favourite Kangaroo Jasmine Garner failed to poll a vote in the first four rounds of the season, despite having twice been recognised with a perfect 10 votes in rounds one and two of AFLCA voting (and polling again in rounds three and four).

Garner was named AFLCA player of the season, and recognised for her outstanding campaign by being named captain of the All-Australian team, but did not finish in the top five of the count.

Marinoff (18 votes), Perspakis (17) and Melbourne's Olivia Purcell (16) rounded out the top five at the end of the night.

Ewings recognised as best first year player

Meanwhile, Hannah Ewings was named season seven's Rising Star, beating out Power teammate Abbey Dowrick for the award.

South Australia's top draft pick in 2022, Ewings led her club for clearances (3.9 per game) and inside 50s (3.7 per game) in her debut season. She was also first for clearances and equal-second for inside 50s among first-season players.

Ewings (42 votes) was a comprehensive winner, with Dowrick (32 votes) the only player to come close to her Alberton teammate. So dominant were the Power pair that all nine Rising Star judges opted for either Ewings or Dowrick with their maximum five votes.

Emerging Hawthorn midfielder Jasmine Fleming (17) was third for the expansion side, followed by West Coast Eagle Ella Roberts (15) and the Bulldogs' Riley Wilcox (10).

In the feel-good story of the night, Courtney Wakefield secured a spot in the forward line of the All-Australian team after recently announcing her retirement.

Wakefield played 30 games over four seasons with Richmond after attending a talent identification day at age 31, just seven weeks after giving birth to her second child.

Emma Kearney, meanwhile, became the only player to be named in every All-Australian AFLW team to date (seven total).

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