2021 WAFL Colts MOTR: Preliminary Final – Swan Districts vs. East Fremantle

MINOR premier Swan Districts advanced through to this year’s WAFL Colts Grand Final on Sunday morning, holding on to defeat East Fremantle by two points. Star forward Jack Williams pulled the Sharks back to within the final margin with 30 seconds left on the clock, but his side ran out of time in what was a weather effected match. Both sides were forced to take cover in the change rooms for 45 minutes at quarter time, as lightning strikes were recorded close to Fremantle Community Bank Oval. The action got back underway with a conventional second term, but saw the closing half reduced to two 20-minute quarters. It meant there was not enough time for the Sharks to complete their late charge, having fought back from 27 points down at half time. We highlight a few of the top performers from either side in our Scouting Notes, with a particular focus on state Under 17 and 19 squad members.

SCOUTING NOTES SWAN DISTRICTS 9.9 (63) def. EAST FREMANTLE 9.7 (61)

Swan Districts:

#1 Rhett Bazzo

Stationed in the Swans’ defence, Bazzo got to work with five marks from his 13 disposals – all of them being intercepts. The recent state standout often took back position and organised his well-drilled back six, reading the play well to get into good positions as it came his way. He again showed a sound ability to distribute by foot, calmly hitting targets across defensive 50 and on the rebound. He was caught out on a few occasions for playing behind, but managed to snap up plenty of East Fremantle’s higher or longer kicks forward.

#2 Max Chipper

The only player afield to rack up 30 disposals, Chipper again worked hard out on the wing to help spark chains of possession. He was almost unassuming in his accumulation of disposals throughout the game, but slotted a terrific goal in the last 30 seconds of term one with a classy finish on a tight angle. Chipper dropped back and ran hard in transition to always be a switch option or easy outlet, dishing off quickly and working towards his next touch. It was the sort of game we’ve come to expect from the running machine, who looms as an important figure in the grand final.

#8 Elijah Hewett

With plenty of class in the East Fremantle engine room, Hewett and his fellow Swans midfielders were up against it but competed well on the inside for most of the game. While not his most prolific outing (15 disposals, six inside 50s), Hewett started well and offered some brawn around the ball. His strength was noticeable, even as a bottom-ager, absorbing and taking on tackles while looking to distribute by hand. He was often able to stand up with opponents hanging off him, waiting for the right runner to come by on the outer.

#35 Lawson Humphries

With West Coast in need of some drive off half-back, this Eagles NGA prospect continues to show promising signs for Swan Districts. Humphries was one of the many Swans defenders who chimed in with several intercept marks, setting up well behind the ball and chopping off many an East Fremantle attack. He also looked to move the ball on quickly, looking assured in his use by foot and looking for options other than the dump kick down the line. He finished with 13 disposals and six marks having made a bright start.

#38 Darcy Jones

Jones took a bit of time to warm to the contest, but popped up with his typically exciting speed and energy on the attack. Stationed out on the wing, he had a tough match-up on Jed Hagan and was made to earn his touches. Jones was not afraid to take on opponents and sliced through the lines on occasion, just lacking the finish product at times in a game which saw him register 15 disposals and four inside 50s.

#45 Riley Hardeman

Another speedy wingman for Swan Districts, the 2005-born bullet also rotated forward and constantly looked to put speed on the ball. More often than not, Hardeman would collect on the move and continue his forward momentum, burning opponents and sending the Swans inside 50. He latched onto a bouncing ball deep to convert his sole goal for the game in term two, but was caught holding the ball shaping up for another shot soon after. Undeterred, the under-ager went on to register 11 touches in a promising display.

Others:

Ben Hewett and Noah Hannan were constants among the Swan Districts centre bounce mix, collecting just under 20 touches apiece while combining for 10 inside 50s and 15 tackles. State Under 19s defender Bryce Watson was quieter than usual with eight touches, but fellow backman Angus Laurisson stood up well to clunk seven marks. Up the other end, Jaxon Pitts and Braydon Fawcett chimed in with two important goals each.

East Fremantle:

#4 Jed Hagan

Stationed out on the wing, Hagan proved he can find plenty of the ball in just about any role required of him, as he racked up 27 disposals, seven marks, nine inside 50s and a goal. His major was taken sharply in the third term, as Hagan collected and finished cleanly under pressure from behind. His usually clean skills were again on show and the bottom-ager was particularly impactful with his kicking in the third term. He also dug in to lay six tackles, including two which prevented shots on goal. It was an outstandingly well-rounded performance from the 2022-eligible talent.

#5 Corey Warner

Unsurprisingly one of East Fremantle’s top ball winners on the day (24 disposals, four inside 50s), Warner looked to drive his side forward with bustling runs and long kicks. He was a touch reliant on finding his left side, but proved damaging when able to find it with a couple of searing kicks inside 50. While that end product was not always present, Warner played a key part in helping turn the tide for East Fremantle after half time, winning plenty of ball on both the inside and outside.

#6 Josh Browne

Recently announced as this year’s Jack Clarke Medal winner, Browne showed just why he earned said best and fairest honours with a team-lifting second half performance. He found plenty of ball throughout the day to notch a team-high 27 disposals, but became far more impactful when the game was there to be won. Browne went from accumulating by hand and hacking clearances forward, to releasing runners, driving his legs, and hitting targets with sharper field kicks. His handling was generally clean and he became a dominant figure around the ball, even snaring a goal out the back of a forward 50 stoppage in term three. As consistent as they come, Browne rounded out his season in style despite the result.

#8 Taj Woewodin

Perhaps riding the high of Melbourne’s AFL Grand Final victory the day before, Demons fan and father-son candidate Woewodin made a terrific start to the game. He was part of the Sharks’ starting midfield mix and got his hands on the ball, shifting onto his right side to release long kicks forward. He also rotated into attack, missing a set shot in term one but sinking another from 40m in term two. He ended up with 22 disposals, seven marks and a goal in a clean display to round out the Sharks’ season.

#20 Josh Cripps

He took his time getting settled in, but Cripps ended up having a solid game for East Fremantle, contributing 14 disposals, six marks and nine hit-outs in his usual forward-ruck rotation. The fast improving bigman presented strongly on the lead and was clean with his handling, while moving the ball on fluently with really sharp skills for a player of his size. Cripps missed his lone clear chance to find the goals, hitting the post with a 40m set shot after marking well in front.

#25 Jack Williams

Williams started his day in the ruck before shifting forward, where he ended up having a greater impact with three goals. His reach proved handy while on-ball, but it took Williams a bit of time to adjust to being marked by Bazzo in attack. He turned his state teammate and steadied for a nice goal running inside 50 in the opening term, before struggling to get a handle on the ball in marking contests. He made amends after half time, taking two strong marks inside 50 for his remaining goals, with the latter coming within the final seconds of the match to draw the Sharks back to within a goal.

Others:

Samuel Emery was as productive as many other Sharks afield, rotating forward off the wing for 22 disposals and four inside 50s. He provided the speed, and Ed Curley added some class in the mid-forward rotation, while Judd McVee kicked a crucial goal as he was shifted forward from defence. The likes of Thomas McGrath, Rory Williams, and Roc Hughes were also solid for the Sharks.

Featured Image: East Fremantle’s Taj Woewodin celebrates a goal | Credit: Pixell Photography via East Fremantle FC

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