WAFL Women’s weekly wrap: Round 4 – Swans triumph over reigning premiers in wet conditions

SWAN Districts finally broke through for a second win after a couple of competitive efforts, defeating reigning premiers East Fremantle by 12 points in wet and windy conditions at Steel Blue Oval yesterday. The result saw the Swans move back inside the top four and move to 2-2 from four rounds, sentencing the Sharks to their third consecutive loss and bumping them out of the finals spots.

Led by young guns, Shanae Davison and Mikayla Morrison who as head coach, Jo Taylor said “played like they were playing with a dry footy all day”, the home side came back from a goalless first term and an eight-point half-time deficit to boot four goals to one in the second half. Both Davison and Morrison kicked terrific goals with clean hands, while fellow State Academy talent Nyra Anderson booted two majors, and Mikayla Hyde was one of the more prominent players through the midfield.

Coming into the day, both Swan Districts and East Fremantle had dropped their past two matches after Round 1 wins over Peel Thunder and South Fremantle respectively in the opening round of the season. Confronted by the wet conditions, and what would turn into heavy rain in the second half, both teams were willing to just win territory early with a lot of soccering off the deck to get the ball inside 50. Taylor said the team had to adjust to the conditions from what it had trained with previously, but knew that the young team could not afford to get too bogged down both metaphorically and physically against a more experienced and stronger side.

“We certainly addressed it and tried to drive home to the girls that it needed to be a territory game and that it was going to be really contested,” Taylor said. “We didn’t want it to just become a slog fest, so we still encouraged the players to take their opportunities and use their speed and their skill to break the game open when the opportunity arose.”

Despite trailing by eight points at half-time and only a sole Anderson goal with two minutes to play in the half following a free kick for an unrealistic attempt as the only major in the opening half, the Swans still kept in touch. They had limited their opponents to just the two majors themselves, which came via a Sharks young gun in Chloe Reilly – who snapped around her body well in the opening term – and then another State Academy member in Roisin Walsh who got on the end of a chain of neat passes to quickly get boot to ball and at that stage, give her side a two-goal advantage.

Taylor said despite trailing on the scoreboard, she was impressed with her side’s pressure all over the ground, and consistently attacked the ball and the ball carrier to wear down the Sharks as more time went on.

I think we were really, our pressure was through the roof for the whole game,” she said. “Our tackle pressure, forward pressure and around the ground and I think at the contest. “In the clearances we were actually holding our own, if not just in front for the majority of the game. “But as the game wore on, the girls were able to adjust to the conditions, but also it’s a young playing group that are still learning to play together, so each week they are feeling that connection a little bit more. “As the game went on, we were able to see that sort of trust in each other to spread the ball from the contest. “We were able to capitalise a bit more from the breakeven early and then dominating the contest as the game went on.”

The game really turned on the scoreboard midway through the premiership quarter when the Swans booted back-to-back goals on their way to four consecutive majors in the second half. Unbelievable pieces of play from Davison in the third, and Morrison in the fourth where they just created something out of nothing was superb, and while Walsh booted her second major late in the game – returning from an injury scare from her earlier goal – it would not be enough for the Sharks.

One player who put in a real four quarter performance was Swan Districts captain, Emily McGuire who time and time again repelled the ball off half-back and limited easy opportunities for the Sharks inside 50.

Em’s been in our system for a while but she’s still a really young player,” Taylor said. “Everyone feels like she’s been around forever and she’s now the captain of our football club. She’s still young and learning these roles. “I still think Em’s best position is behind the footy because she does patrol it well and she uses it really well. “So it was nice for it to come off for her, particularly in those conditions. “It was pretty tough, but she was pretty sure-handed and most of her decisions were very good. “It did give us the opportunity to break that line with her ability to dispose of the ball the way that she does.”

While the likes of Davison and Morrison were taking marks and picking the ball off the deck like it was a warm summer’s day, Taylor also credited the work of experienced players inside 50 who were able to crash the packs and force the ball to ground where the teenage talents went to work.

I think most importantly we worked a lot on the way we’re trying to move the ball into the forward line and to have players like Fiona Boucher who’s been around for a while, but she contested all day and crashed the pack and allowed the young players to use their skills and run through, so I think both her and Steph Graskowski were key for those young girls being able to play that role. “Which was just they presented in conditions they were never going to take the big grabs, it was always going to be tough, but they led up all day and brought the ball to ground so we could utilise the skills that those young ones have.”

Boucher worked a tireless game through the forward 50, having a couple of chances close to goal in the third term, with one quick kick in the goalsquare seeing her knocked off it, but a second chance – thanks to a long Morrison bomb in – resulted in a soccer off the ground a metre out. When asked just how crucial the likes of Boucher was for the younger players, Taylor said it was “absolutely crucial” to the development and success of the playing group.

For us to have someone like Fi Boucher and then down back, (Eliza) Gelmi, (Aimee) Ralph and (Lauren) Osborne who are all playing the same role down there. “Just to have that level head that experience it makes the young ones who are a little bit more confident. “It’s also creating that bit of crash and bash, creating a bit of chaos where as you say, Mikayla Morrison, Shanae Davison they thrive in that environment. “For us we’ve lost a lot of leadership out of our group, but the ones that we have are really crucial to allow us to play the game that we want to play.”

Taylor said Sarah Wielstra impressed her through the ruck, with the recent addition’s follow-up work “outstanding”. She praised the cleanliness of Davison and Morrison throughout the day, whilst said Mikayla Hyde’s progression into the midfield has been terrific, with the lightly-built forward-cum-midfielder playing “one of the best games (Taylor has) seen her play in the contest”. While the win was important in terms of Swan Districts’ finals hopes this season, Taylor said she still wanted her team to improve on the areas it had focused on all through pre-season and the first half of the season – transition and ball movement.

Our transition from defence to attack and then the way we’re moving the ball forward and in women’s footy and with us over the last few weeks, it can tend to get clogged up at that 40m mark,” Taylor said. “Between 40 and 60, rather than we’d like to see the ball go in deeper. “Our ball movement and transition to try and get some deeper entries is definitely something we’ve been working on for the last 10 weeks and will continue to work on those.”

PLAYER FOCUS:

Shanae Davison (Swan Districts)

The talented forward amazed with her ability to take mark after mark around the ground as if it was a perfectly dry day. She presented well, got stuck in playing a high amount of midfield minutes, and won the ball in each third of the ground. She protected the ball drop well in the contest, took a number of contested marks, and then looked to play on at every opportunity she can. Given Davison possesses nice wheels and decision making skills, she was able to get the ball in quickly, and try and open up the game, earning her best on ground in our eyes. Her goal from a quick snap was absolutely superb in the third term.

SWAN DISTRICTS 0.2 | 1.2 | 3.3 | 5.3 (33)
EAST FREMANTLE 1.1 | 2.3 | 2.3 | 3.3 (21)

GOALS:

Swan Districts: N. Anderson 2, F. Boucher, S. Davison, M. Morrison.
East Fremantle: R. Smith 2, C. Reilly.

ADC BEST:

Swan Districts: S. Davison, M. Morrison, E. Wielstra, E. McGuire, M. Hyde
East Fremantle: J. Norrish, G. O’Sullivan, R. Walsh, K. Tinson, A. Williams

In other Round 4 results, the top two sides continued their strong outings with wins over respective opponents. Subiaco’s unbeaten start to season 2020 rolled on with a massive 14.11 (95) to 2.2 (14) win over South Fremantle at Leederville Oval on Saturday, while Peel Thunder took a crucial away win against Claremont, 3.6 (24) to 2.4 (16) yesterday.

The Lions piled on seven goals in each half on their way to the 81-point smashing, as Aimee Schmidt (five goals), Lara Filocamo (three), Kia Buckley (two) and Abbey Dowrick (two) all had big days out. For the Bulldogs, Kiara Templeman and Lauren Vecchio both hit the scoreboard as the South Fremantle team score continues to increase each week in promising signs.

In Peel Thunder’s eight-point win over Claremont, the Thunder booted three goals to two in the opening half, and just held on from there in a really tight tussle with both teams combining for five behinds in the second half. Kira Phillips was the only multiple goalkicker for the Thunder with two, while Bailey Molloy booted one for the winners. Lewis Bella and Amy Franklin were the two major goalkickers for the Tigers.

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