2021 WAFL Women’s Round 5 preview: Tigers and Thunder to do battle in huge top three clash

THREE games across three days means there is plenty of West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s action for fans to check out in a big weekend for the league. The highly anticipated clash is between top three sides, Peel Thunder up against Claremont, whilst at the other end of the table, South Fremantle will search for its first win against East Fremantle, and top-of-the-table Swan Districts will host Subiaco to try and increase their unbeaten streak to five this year.

The opening game of the round pits the winless Bulldogs up against the 1-3 Sharks in what is a crucial match in terms of the respective sides’ season aspirations. South Fremantle has shown it can take it up to sides each week and this could be its best chance of a win to-date, whilst the Sharks have been a touch inconsistent, which can be attributed to bringing through a lot of talented youth into the League side. Both teams will have an abundance of young guns running around which should make it a tight contest.

Makayla Cocking and Ash Little are into the side with Ash Reidy out of the team for the Bulldogs, while for the Sharks, Evie Gooch‘s three majors last week were enough for Trent Cooper to recall her to Fremantle’s AFL Women’s side. Into the team comes Kate Inglis-Hodge, Paisley Prentice and Georgia Bett, with Inglis-Hodge hoping to provide that spark in the midfield alongside Ann McMahon, Kahra Sprylan, Sharon Wong and captain Ashleigh Gomes. That East Fremantle midfield is rock solid, and the battle with the likes of Liusaidh Gilchrist, Tahlia Holtze, Pia Durk, Lauren Vecchio and Aaliyah Ugle will be a huge test within the overall scheme of things.

In terms of youth, South’s Hunter Cronin and East’s Alli Nokes might find themselves opposed to each other in what would be a great battle, whilst Chloe Reilly really stamped her authority last week, teaming up in a young forward line with Gabby Radojkovich and Anjelique Raison. Up the other end, Makaela Tuhakaraina and Lauren Wakfer are ones to watch – with the latter also rolling through the ruck, while Ebony Clarkson continues to show promising signs wherever she plays.

Two teams with very different hands at the selection table do battle in a clash of the 3-1 sides. Reigning premiers Peel Thunder have just added four players to an extended team in what remains one of the title contenders. The Thunder have recalled dominant key forward and rotating ruck Kira Phillips, as well as young gun Aisha Wright, and Katie Jayne Greive and Nel Baxter, without having to make any forced changes. For the Tigers, Sarah Garstone, Kate Orme and Sophie McDonald are out meaning Claremont has lost a fair chunk of experience, while the likes of Emily Pickett and Adele Arnup return to the side.

The battle between the Peel attack and the Claremont defence will be a fascinating one, with competition leading goalkicker Kate Bartlett set to be watched by Amy Fortescue, while the likes of Bailey Molloy and Ella Roberts – who both kicked multiple goals last week – and youngster Jade Briggs will be closely watched by young talent Emily Bennett, as well as reliable rebounders Rachel Ortlepp and Brooke Hongell. Claremont have the stronger inside midfield with Jess Low, Sasha Goranova and Ella Smith forming a great inside presence, while Peel’s wings in Courtney Rowley and Jaide Britton provide run and carry on the outside.

In Claremont’s defence, Amy Franklin will lead the attack, and whilst Cassie Davidson will likely get first crack at the talented teenager, it will be quite the matchup if the equally athletic Beth Schilling is able to lock horns with Franklin at some stage. Schilling has been named in defence to take on Jacinta Valentini. Also back there, rebounding types Tanisha Anderson and Ebony Dowson, along with Bella Mann will try and contain the likes of Tessa Doumanis and Brooke Whyte.

Swan Districts will eye off a fifth straight win, this time taking on Subiaco in the final match of the round on Sunday. Unfortunately they will be without Mikayla Morrison whose seven goals in two games were enough to force a recall to the AFL Women’s. Bianca Webb is also out of the side, but the Swans have been able to bring in a couple of talented youngsters in Emma Nanut and Chanel Jetta who have been added to one of the youngest benches going around. Of the five players on the Swan Districts’ bench, the oldest is 18-year-old Naomi Baker, who will be there alongside fellow teenagers Melisha Hardy and Kloe Taylor.

Subiaco has lost some experience out of its side, with Maggie Maclachlan, Katelyn Pope and Beatrice Devlyn all out, with an extended bench added, including Taylisha Brown, Hayley Corlett and Selina Spiers among seven inclusions to the visiting side. The Lions midfield of Lara Filocamo, Tarnica Golisano and Liana Burchell will face a very young onball brigade including the in-form Dana East and Jessica Cox, while Sarah Lakay is gaining great experience in the ruck. Rotating with Sarah Wielstra up forward, Lakay has the athleticism to worry the opposition, whilst the Swans forward line – even without Morrison – is still damaging.

Bella Edgley is a sensational overhead mark, Taylah Edwards is ever-dangerous and Nyra Anderson has some of the cleanest hands out there. It will be up to the likes of Claire Ortlepp, Tayla Thorogood and Jayme Harken to try and contain them, whilst the wing battle between young gun Tara Stribley and Subiaco’s Ellie Blackmore will be one to watch. Up in the Lions’ forward line, Abbey Dowrick, Kia Buckley and Jamie Rust are developing talents, while the experience of Emily McGuire, Lauren Osborne and Aimee Ralph has made life difficult for opposition teams to score.

The round is set to be a cracker with plenty on the line for all six teams.

WAFL WOMEN’S ROUND 5 FIXTURES:

South Fremantle vs. East Fremantle
Claremont vs. Peel Thunder
Swan Districts vs. Subiaco

Picture credit: Owen Davies / Peel Thunder

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