2021 WAFL Women’s Round 10 preview: Sides return after forced cancellation

AFTER Round 9 matches were unable to go ahead due to the state lockdown, the Round 10 teams – which saw the return of the State Academy talents and more AFL Women’s players – were largely left the same with a few odd movements.

Up first is Peel Thunder taking on East Fremantle with the former stacked with returning talent and the latter also including some serious excitement. The reigning premiers have been able to bring their State Academy talent in recently named Most Valuable Player (MVP) Ella Roberts, with Courtney Rowley, Jaide Britton, Bella Mann, Beth Schilling and Aisha Wright all back in the side. Add in AFL Women’s talents in Sabreena Duffy, Sarah Verrier and Katie Jayne Grieve and the home team is absolutely stacked. Nel Baxter is another to return and slot straight onto a wing opposite Rowley as Chloe Wrigley has been named onball, while Roberts joins Grieve, Kira Phillips and Kate Bartlett inside 50, and Verrier is named off half-back with Cassie Davidson, Tanisha Anderson and Ebony Dowson among the players back there.

The Sharks have been able to add their two State Academy talents back into the side after the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships in Chloe Reilly and Mylee Leitch, while Anjelique Raison is another young gun returning for the match. Gabby O’Sullivan will be a massive boost to the Sharks in the second half of the season, as will Philipa Seth up the other end, with the pair coming in alongside experienced forward Sara Lewis. The Sharks had to make six changes last week with Rachel Ashley and Gabby Radojkovich among the outs, though one name who has quietly snuck into a forward pocket is Roxanne Roux, who is a tall target that might just worry the Peel Thunder defence. If she can get off the chain with her athleticism and AFLW experience, then watch out.

The match of the round has to be the top of the table battle between the undefeated Swan Districts and one of the Swans’ biggest threats in Claremont. The Tigers have added in their State Academy players with Emily Bennett and Matilda Dyke going straight back into defence, and Amy Franklin named in her preferred position up forward. Matilda Sergeant and Jasmin Stewart come back to state level with captain Ella Smith returning alongside ruck Matilda Husband. The midfield featuring Jess Low, Sasha Goranova and Hayley Bullas is a major strength for the Tigers, while Dyke and Sophie McDonald holding the key position defence roles alongside Bennett, Rachel Ortlepp and Laura Pugh, while Amy Fortescue is one out from Round 9 to 10 selection sheet named as an emergency. Claremont have the talent to win the ball in the midfield and give their forwards first chance, but the Swans lineup is absolute A-grade and are the premiership favourites right now.

Swan Districts has also been able to roll out the welcome mat for plenty of inclusions as the State Academy members return for Round 9. Dana East, Nyra Anderson, Melisha Hardy, Sarah Lakay, Emma Nanut and Tara Stribley are all back into the side which has an extended bench, as AFL Women’s-listed players Kellie Gibson and Bianca Webb all return as well, Caitlyn Appleford is the other including of the 11 changes to the Swans, with the entirely new midfield of Lakay, East, Webb and Gibson will flank the damaging Mikayla and Brianna Hyde on the wings. The reliable Emily McGuire is at half-back, with young gun Jaime Henry also there while Jess Cox and Kloe Taylor are among the other young talents coming through the team, and Sarah Wielstra named up forward. The Swans will be keen to have a win over the Tigers and all but lock up top spot this season.

In the final game of the round, Subiaco hosts South Fremantle in a battle of  fourth against sixth. South Fremantle has also allowed for a ton of chances, as Makaela Tuhakaraina and Lauren Wakfer return from State Academy duties, with Sarah Wright also back on the extended interchange. Lauren Vecchio has come in to provide some extra experience, and Lara Rodin-Zimdahl, Cali Hunt and Ashleigh Little are the others to be coming back into the team. The Bulldogs will be heavy underdogs against an unbelievably strong ladder leaders lineup, though the forward line of Little, Wakfer, Ebony Clarkson and Tuhakaraina combining with Zoe Huggett, and then through the midfield Pia Durk, Kiara Templeman and Aaliyah Ugle will be one to watch, and particularly great experience for the younger South Fremantle players.

The Lions have not been forced to make any changes back in Round 9, and have instead recalled some experience in Hayley Miller, Ange Stannett, Beatrice Devlyn and Ashtyn Cowie. The midfield battle will be fascinating with Jess Ritchie in the ruck as Tarnica Golisano, Abbey Dowick and Lara Filocamo will look to win first possession. Kia Buckley, Jamie Rust and Madi Wilkins are among the talents forward of centre for the Lions, and Claire Ortlepp and Jayme Harken those holding up in defence. Maggie MacLachlan has been named on an extended interchange, and the depth of the Lions is clear in a game they should win to create separation from the bottom two sides and look towards finals footy.

WAFL WOMEN’S ROUND 10 FIXTURES:

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

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