IN our Top Performers for the West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s competition, we took a look at the two streamed games between Swan Districts and East Fremantle, and Peel Thunder and South Fremantle and noted down some of the youth prospects, and previous Draft Combine talents who stood out.
#25 Jade Briggs (Peel Thunder)
Kicked a great opportunistic goal off the ground in the goalsquare being in the right place at the right time 11 minutes into the second term. She had a number of long kicks both inside 50 and from the defensive 50, and whilst it was not a huge game, she did hit the scoreboard again with a set shot going through for one behind and using her long kicking to advantage.
#20 Jaide Britton (Peel Thunder)
Won a lot of her touches off half-back and then pushing up through the midfield, Britton was a reliable source of rebounding from the back 50. She took a number of good marks and was presenting well as a viable switch option to springboard forward, winning her fair share of the ball in the second and fourth terms particularly. When she did make a mistake such as a kick in the second term late in the quarter, Britton got over to mop up and win the ball and drive the ball forward.
#29 Jess Cox (Swan Districts)
After a quieter start to the game, Cox had a really big second term, involved in second and third efforts during a passage of play. She quickly kicked from half-back to the wing, ran up and won a second kick which went into the middle but was turned over, but worked hard to win the ball back and hit the target who was spreading well. Her best kick of the day was a pinpoint 45-degree kick to the leading Taylah Edwards at half-forward out of the middle. Providing great defensive blocks and pressure around the ground, Cox had a number of piercing kicks going forward in the second half, one of which led to a goal in the final term.
#7 Hunter Cronin (South Fremantle)
A productive player throughout the match for the Bulldogs, Cronin attacked the contest hard and had a bit first term, carrying that form throughout the match. In the opening minute of the second term, Cronin spun one way and then the other to snap forward, and was able to use clean hands quickly when under pressure inside 50. She kept attacking the contest hard right to the end and put in a promising performance leading out from the forward line and pushing up the ground.
#3 Dana East (Swan Districts)
The draft-eligible talent just keeps getting better and better and would be a good shout as the most improved of the top-age teenagers in the competition this year. She looked so classy in her movement and clean hands at ground level or in the air, reading the play before anyone else and running out the game with four quarters of effort and racking up the ball with ease. From start to finish she had the ball on a string, but some of her highlights included a pickpocket effort at half-back to give it to Jess Cox, then running at top speed to receive the handball from Danielle Wright and kick a great goal in a smooth motion late in the game.
#38 Bella Edgley (Swan Districts)
Having the experienced Alex Williams for company early, Edgley struggled to get too much free space, though she did take a strong mark up at half-forward. It was her third term that saw her take the game by horns and not only take a great one-on-one mark against Williams, but then clunked a grab between two opponents close to goal. Her set shot never looked like missing five minutes into the third term, and then set up a goal to Mikayla Morrison with a lovely kick forward, showing a clean pair of heels and great decision making in the process.
#10 Melisha Hardy (Swan Districts)
Opposed to Chloe Reilly at times, Hardy did well in a number of one-on-one situations considering Reilly’s ability in the air. She has the strength and speed to match her, and showed with her defensive touches and deft spoils. She nearly took a good mark at half-forward late in the first term but it slipped through her hands though she did take a great mark in the final term after a quieter third quarter. Was a reliable defensive option in the back 50.
#13 Jaime Henry (Swan Districts)
The Under 16s prospect did not win as much of the ball as the week before, but still showed some great talent with a lovely left foot kick with a well-weighted pass in the middle, as well as showing composure in defence to kick quickly to half-back. There were a couple of mistakes by foot, but as a whole Henry had some promising moments.
#33 Sarah Lakay (Swan Districts)
Getting better by the week, the athletic ruck talent is gaining great experience ahead of the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships. A strong body at ground level and an athletic leap, Lakay rotated between the forward line and into the ruck. She showed clean hands at the stoppages and took a strong mark at half-back to kick long to the wing in the third term.
#6 Alli Nokes (East Fremantle)
Had a number of nice plays in the defensive half of the ground, and is a player who does not need to win a lot of the ball to be effective, with a lovely long kicking action capable of hitting targets across multiple distances.
#7 Gabby Radojkovich (East Fremantle)
The exciting forward tracks the ball well and gets to the right positions regularly, with clean hands once on the move. She had a couple of chances, but it was her second efforts in the second quarter where her snap on goal was smothered, she laid a tackle, won the ball back and drilled it from 20m out. Continuing to compete strongly in the air, Radojkovich is a strong competitor in the air, and will either clunk the mark or bring the ball to ground and be quick to dispose of it.
#22 Anjelique Raison (East Fremantle)
Started well with a good intercept mark at half-forward and long deep kick, that despite being intercepted was the right idea. She stood up in tackles and moved well around the ground, having her greatest impact in the third term. Raison had a number of second efforts in the quarter, and moving the ball quickly in transition from half-back to the wing, and when competing for the ball herself, was not afraid to lay tackles. She spent some time in the ruck to go head-to-head with the athletic Sarah Lakay, then in the final term had a fantastic piece of play where she picked it up cleanly, turned and spun with a snap but just missed.
#5 Chloe Reilly (East Fremantle)
Having split her time up both ends in recent weeks, Reilly was a more permanent forward in Round 4, looking lively and creative when around the ball. Her first flying shot on the run went out on the full, then tried to pull down a one-handed mark but could not quite do it. Shaking off a Melisha Hardy tackle in the second term and pumping it deep, Reilly had a number of chances but could not quite strike it right with a shank on the run 20m out and then a set shot following a good mark just falling short. The latter still led to an Evie Gooch goal, whilst Reilly’s supreme footy IQ and hard running saw her beat everyone to the ball over the back and run home and convert at the top of the goalsquare.
#8 Ella Roberts (Peel Thunder)
The talented bottom-ager had her usual impact across the game with stints up forward and through the midfield. She slotted two goals in the third term, both from sets shots. Her first came after a double 50m penalty, nailing the set shot from 25m out in front, then slotted through another from the tightest of angles 20m near the boundary, like she was popping one home from 10m out in the goalsquare. Standing up in tackles and winning the ball at stoppages, Roberts showed she can not only be that high-impact forward, but the regular ball-winner as well.
#18 Courtney Rowley (Peel Thunder)
Clean as can be, and as spectators have come to expect from Rowley, who just looks classy every time the ball is in her possession. Rowley was quick to make her impact known with a goal on the run inside 50, chucking the one mitt out to velcro-like grab it and not break stride then slot it on the move from about 30m out. She did not need a lot of touches to really standout, but aside from being pinged for throwing it in a tackle, could not be faulted for her ability to provide the right deft touch going forward with teammates looking to her to distribute in the front half.
#40 Beth Schilling (Peel Thunder)
Showed off her versatility in Round 4, not only playing up forward and in the ruck, but also being thrown into defence in the final term where she took a great one-on-one intercept mark, then pulled down a second intercept mark later in the term. Her athleticism in the ruck is always noticeable, but it is her second efforts at ground level that make her such a valuable tall. Her leap, timing and reading of the ball in flight are handy skills to have across all the key position posts.
#2 Tara Stribley (Swan Districts)
The classy outside mover played her usual game with an ability to take off and leave opponents in the dust. She won the ball at half-back, on the wing and half-forward, even featuring in the final term deep in attack. She had a quick kick off the ground in midair which was a little ambitious in the second term, but it went close hitting the post. The third term she had a brilliant passage of play out of midfield, turning on the jets and bursting to half-forward, drawing the opponent and handing it off to Bella Edgley which led to a Mikayla Morrison goal. A low drilling ball to hit Edgley on the wing after taking a good mark on her chest was another classy passage of play.
#19 Makaela Tuhakaraina (South Fremantle)
Had her moments inside 50 as you would expect, showing off her upside, and while she did not have as many moments as the week before, her blistering speed was on display with her powerful burst past some opponents. In the second term it was her elite speed that set up a goal to Lauren Wakfer, then set up another goal to Aaliyah Ugle through the same running power. A chance to add a third goal assist – this time to Zoe Huggett – late in the term came close but the set shot missed. Her defensive pressure is what makes opposition defenders nervous.
#10 Aaliyah Ugle (South Fremantle)
A deft touch and clean by hand and at ground level, Ugle was often set upon the moment she won the ball, but when she found some space in the final term inside 50, she kicked a great running goal with four minutes on the clock. It was a hard worked effort where she cleanly picked it up off the deck and put it through from a few metres out, which was the highlight of her day.
#9 Lauren Wakfer (South Fremantle)
This week Wakfer did not only look impressive with her athleticism in the ruck, but the Under 16s talent also stepped up inside 50. Having taken a good mark at half-forward early in the game to work into it, she had a couple of shots on goal, which featured one major thanks to her nimble turning circle allowing her to collect the ball close to the boundary line, run for 10m and slot it home with impending pressure coming. She used the ball well and found more of it, and while she is still a raw talent, there was plenty to like.
#27 Sarah Wielstra (Swan Districts)
The mature-age tall forward/ruck kicked a goal off a few steps in the third term with a one-two play which was a massive highlight. She had a few chances on goal to make it a really big day out, but either just dropped the mark or her set shot drifted. She was still involved in plenty of play up forward and put herself into ball-winning places to keep the transition working for the Swans.
#11 Danielle Wright (Swan Districts)
After an early touch on the wing to kick forward, Wright had a more productive second half where she showed some great skill by both hand and foot. She showed fierce defensive pressure, then perfectly weighted a pass to Sarah Wielstra, and a well weighted handball to Dana East to set up a fourth term goal. Late in the game she pickpocket work and kicked from half-back to the middle.