Category: Peel Thunder

Schilling follows brothers into footy, rises to challenges

PEEL Thunder’s Beth Schilling is naturally an eye-catching player with her athleticism and overhead marking ability among a number of strings she has in her bow. The talented tall has been a key member of Peel Thunder’s side this year, and showed during the AFL Women’s Under 19s National Championships that she can match it with the best in the country. Often utilised in defence, but could play forward, or even pinch hit in the ruck due to her vertical leap, Schilling is the ultimate utility,.

“I’d say my overhead mark is definitely one of my greatest strengths,” Schilling said. “As well as my overall physical capability which is really good, and another thing that I think is one of my strengths is the reading of the play. “I can tell what’s going to happen when the ball is coming down.”

While the Peel Thunder tall admittedly said she struggled with her fitness and wanted to build her endurance further, she was thankful for all teh support around her, particularly from her local club. When asked who had had the greatest impact on her career to-date and was an inspiration to her, she was thankful for Carey Park Panther’s women’s coach Geoff Nischke‘s ongoing support.

“I would have to say probably my local club, my coach Geoff Nischke,” Schilling said. “He’s still such a great inspiration to me because he has been so supportive and he’s told me and really let me know that I can progress as far as I want to go. “Even now he calls up once in a while and asks how I’m going and watches my games. “I guess that support’s been really inspirational to me as a player.”

Despite having made her way through the pathways, Schilling was not always a footballer, having originally started with the round ball. Once her brothers decided to change into Australian rules football, Schilling followed suit, and has never looked back over the past seven years.

“I pretty much started playing when I was about 11-years-old and I started playing because of my two brothers, one older, one younger,” Schilling said. “They were playing soccer previously the same as me, and so they changed and they convinced me to switch from soccer to footy and I just enjoyed it so much, I continued it until today.

“From there I went to play first my local junior team and then I transitioned into the women’s league, and from there I was asked to play for the WAFL and Peel Thunder and also at the same time as playing WAFL I was doing things with State as well and the development academy.”

Schilling immediately noticed the difference in quality once she stepped up to the West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s competition, and while 2020 was a disrupted year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Schilling is pleased to be running around for the Thunder in 2021.

“It’s been really good (playing for Peel),” she said. “This year’s been my first proper season with them. “I played a few games with them last year, but because of COVID we couldn’t play as many. “But it’s been a big transition from local footy and the standard that they expect. “The speed’s a lot faster and the skills are a lot better, so I guess it’s been good for me and my development as a player.”

Now in her draft-eligible year, Schilling is eyeing off going one step better and reaching the elite level of the AFL Women’s competition. While she understands it is tough to gain and maintain a spot in the league, her main goal is to continue her rate of development in order to become the best possible player she can be.

“Obviously to be drafted would be amazing but I guess even if I don’t get drafted into the AFL, I would be happy if I can play the best footy I can achieve as a player and I’d be satisfied with that,” she said.

2021 WAFL Women’s Round 11 preview: Swan Districts focused on staying grounded ahead of blockbuster clash

ROUND 11 of the Western Australia Football League Women’s (WAFLW) is set to deliver one of the most exciting games of the season as second-placed Peel Thunder is set to take on the undefeated Swan Districts in a top of the table clash on Sunday afternoon. The matchup has been highly anticipated all week, with plenty at stake for both sides. Swan Districts have continued to display their class on a weekly basis, while Peel Thunder have executed a terrific rise to prove themselves as a legitimate contender to dethrone their opponent in the near future.

Swan Districts coach Adam Dancey said the club’s preparation heading into the game will not be majorly adjusted despite the hype around the match and referenced the club’s narrow win over Subiaco as an example that any team can win or lose at any time.

“Our preparation has been pretty normal,” Dancey said. “Subiaco showed us two weeks ago if we give people an opportunity, they’re going to take that, and we’ve got to be at our best at all times. “We discuss who we are playing but that’s all it is, a discussion.”

Swan Districts made WAFLW history last week, becoming the first team to win nine consecutive games since the inception of the league in 2018. It is an amazing feat and one could be forgiven for getting ahead of themselves in this situation, but Dancey has thanked a popular book for keeping his players in reality for the entire season. Dancey has had a fantastic influence on the club since arriving and credits changing his mindset.

“The Resilience Project changed the way I thought about my coaching significantly,” Dancey said. “We’ve taken the principals from that book and rolled it into our footy, this is how we want to enjoy our life and our footy, to be grateful for the opportunity. “We asked a lot of the girls to read the book and a lot of them came back, and they came back with different attitudes.”

Sides all over the league are improving their team lineups heading into round 11, with the conclusion of the AFLW season resulting in an influx of players. Dancey described the difficulties of managing having an excess of performing players.

“The biggest challenge is managing the personnel, to go to a player to tell them they are going to miss because of the talent coming back from the AFLW,” Dancey said. “It’s a tough conversation to have. “We said early on that as a coaching group, we are going to do our best to pick the best 22, and if you’re in that, enjoy it, if you’re not, come and see us for feedback. “Be grateful you are apart of the club, and that you have an opportunity to improve. “To the girls credit, they have.”

Their opponent in the Peel Thunder have greatly improved since their Round 3 clash, where Swan Districts scored a 28-point victory. Since then, Peel Thunder have lost just one game (by three points) and have really found a style of football that works. The Swan Districts coach is aware the winning streak could be over at any moment, and the Peel Thunder will be hoping to be the side that does this.

Around the grounds, Subiaco will travel to Revo Fitness Stadium to take on Claremont on Sunday morning. In the Mother’s Day clash, Claremont will look to bounce back from their loss to Swan District, and keep themselves in contention, as they sit one win behind Peel Thunder for second place. Subiaco sit one spot below their opponent, but with three less wins, so a victory here would keep them in the hunt.

The final match of the round features a cross town clash, as South Fremantle host East Fremantle at Fremantle Community Bank Oval, in a crucial clash for the bottom two sides. South Fremantle remain winless after nine games, and will be looking at this match as an opportunity to break the drought. Meanwhile, East Fremantle have found themselves on a four-game losing streak, to end up with a 2-7 record, but only one win out of the top four. With plenty on the line for both teams, expect a ferocious contest.

Picture credit: Swan Districts

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

Rowley’s “crazy” rise only getting started

COURTNEY Rowley might only be in her top-age draft year, but the West Australian teenager already has an enviable résumé. Having joined Peel Thunder in the team’s first season when it was the West Australian Women’s Football League (WAWFL) – now West Australian Football League Women’s (WAFLW) – Rowley was the club’s equal games record holder heading into 2021, and had a best and fairest and premiership medal to her name.

“Basically I pretty much played netball when I was younger,” Rowley said of her journey. “I kicked the footy with my dad and my brother all the time because he played footy and I always wanted to play footy so I went down to Mandurah Mustangs, the local club and ended up playing then next year went to Peel.”

Only 15-years-old at the time, Rowley was just excited about the prospect of playing against senior women, some of whom had already reached the elite level. Instead, the talented teenager announced herself on the big stage, coming away with a best and fairest as the youngest in the senior side.

“That was just crazy,” Rowley said. “They called my name up and I was like ‘what the hell? How?’ I was like 15 and I was like I don’t’ know, I was pretty proud of myself, but it was insane, I had no words.”

The outside midfielder admitted it was a clear step up when she moved from the local leagues to the WAFLW, but she quickly adapted to the tempo of the competition and said she would not have it any other way from now on.

“First game it was like the change of pace was the hard thing and I was like ‘woah this is so much quicker’ but playing against better players makes me play better so I love it,” Rowley said. “The competition, everything, if I went back I don’t feel like I’d be able to play as good because I play better against better people.”

When asked about her favourite position, Rowley said she had become used to the wing – having also played on either flank – but a new lease on life playing inside midfield gave her a new perspective on where she might like to play in the future.

“I don’t know hey? I don’t mind,” she said. “I’ve been trained to be playing on the wing, but for this state carnival I’ve been going inside mid and I like it so much better, winning my own ball. But either or.”

The modest talent described her strengths as her speed and marking, though if you talk to anyone out west, her composure with ball-in-hand, ability to find space and hit targets, and her run-and-carry are all areas where she excels. But like any aspiring AFL Women’s talents, Rowley said she had plenty of areas she wanted to improve on going forward.

“I’d say I’m fit but I just want to be fitter, like working on that over the off-season and then probably my opposite foot kicking,” she said. “I want to be able to kick on both feet. I can do it standing still, but I need to be able to do it in a game I reckon.”

In the preseason, coach Steve Markham said he would like to have “four or five” Rowley’s.

“She can play all over the ground, but I love her on the outside because she runs and spreads and delivers inside 50,” Markham told Draft Central. “We’ve used her a little bit last year forward when she copped an injury and she was able to hit the scoreboard.” So at points we’ll drift her forward and she’s done some impressive things inside 50, so we’ll throw her around a little bit this year and just see what suits us best on the day.”

Speaking of Markham, Rowley had plenty of praise for the coach that took her side from wooden spooners to premiers within a season, describing the feeling from going bottom to top as “insane”.

“It was so good,” Rowley said. “Because that year we had so much hope when became wooden spooners, we were like ‘we can do it’ but then we got the new coach and he was just drilling confidence into us and ‘you can do it, I can feel it, you just need to believe in yourselves’ and we just took that belief into the season and then won the premiership.”

Rowley said Markham was her first coach at the Thunder – having led the Rogers Cup girls to the same success – and was the main influence on her football journey. As for an AFL Women’s leader to look up to, a recently crowned league best and fairest was a standout choice for the teenager.

“It’s hard because there’s so many,” Rowley said. “I do love Kiara Bowers from Freo, everyone does, that’s a bit typical, but just the way she goes about it, she’s so good. “Even Georgia Patrikios from St Kilda, her run and carry and everything like that.”

A member of the AFL Women’s Academy, Rowley said the trip with the nation’s most talented prospects to the Top End was “sick” and something she would never forget.

“When I went to Darwin, I learnt so much about professionalism and it made me want to make it to the top level so much more,” Rowley said. “Just about what you learn.”

Now edging closer towards achieving her dream of being picked to play at the top level, Rowley said she had no intention of slowing down. While playing AFL Women’s was the “obvious” goal, she did not want to just make it, but continue to improve her game in any way she could.

“Well obviously the main one is to make AFLW, but just be the best player I can and keep improving better every week,” she said. ‘I don’t want to just get there and stop, just want to keep getting better.”

2021 WAFL Women’s Round 8 preview: Swans load up on AFLW talent to continue winning streak

A CLEAR divide has developed in the West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s competition, as the top three sides – led by the undefeated Swan Districts – are at least 12 points clear of the bottom three sides. The Swans have not dropped a game in seven outings and sit pretty eight points clear at the top of the ladder, with a massive percentage of 263.7. Peel Thunder and Claremont are separated by less than six per cent thanks to five wins from seven matches, before East Fremantle and Subiaco appear to be fighting it out for the last finals spot. The Sharks have the superior percentage – by 9.67 per cent, while South Fremantle hold up the table as the only side yet to win a game in 2021.

The opening game of the round sees reigning premiers Peel Thunder hitting the road to take on reigning wooden spooner and a side yet to register a win in the club’s short history, in South Fremantle. The Thunder will welcome back Demi Liddle who slots straight into the midfield group alongside Chloe Rigley, Gracie Fenton and Ebony Bilcich. The loss of the likes of Courtney Rowley, Jaide Britton and Ella Roberts to the State Academy has not impacted the Thunder, and they are expected to get the job done here with the damaging forward line of Kira Phillips, Bailey Molloy and Kate Bartlett all able to hit the scoreboard, and Tanisha Anderson, Ebony Dowson and Cassie Davidson at the back.

The Bulldogs on the other hand have a steady midfield group of Tahlia Holtze, Lauren Vecchio and Liudsaidh Gilchrist, though will be missing the likes of Makaela Tuhakaraina, Ash Reidy and Lauren Wakfer from the side who will return next week from their State Academy duties. Pia Durk, Kiara Templeman and Zoe Huggett are important components of the side, with Hunter Cronin and Aaliyah Ugle others to keep an eye on forward of centre for the league’s cellar dwellers.

Just when it looked like Swan Districts could not get any stronger without its contingent of youth stars, the Swans have brought back the Hyde twins, with Mikayla and Brianna Hyde both in the team. Mikayla has already played this season at state level, but is expected to feature more heavily now Fremantle’s AFL Women’s campaign is over. Brianna on the other hand was co-captain of the State Academy squad, but fell a week short of recovering from injury to play, and will look to have an impact in this game. Chanel Jetta will join the likes of AFL Women’s listed talents Kellie Gibson and Imahra Cameron back into the side. They also have the in-form Jess Cox, along with fellow youngsters Jaime Henry, Kloe Taylor and Danielle Wright, while Emily McGuire has been named at full-forward in a change of ends.

Subiaco have not opted to name any outs just yet, with Ellie Blackmore an important inclusion back in the side on a wing, whilst Taylisha Brown, Maud-Annie Foley and Dahna Lee have all been added to the extended interchange. Jess Ritchie, Tarnica Golisano, Lara Filocamo and Abbey Dowrick are a strong midfield group, as Claire Ortlepp and Jayme Harken provide the defensive impact, and youngsters Kia Buckley and Jamie Rust will benefit once again alongside Tarnee Tester at half-forward. The Swans will be strong favourites to go 8-0, but Subiaco are forming a more solid team to attack the second half of the year.

In the final game of the round, East Fremantle will look to cause an upset against Claremont with both teams making some changes at the selection table. The Tigers have welcomed back AFL Women’s listed Eagles, Hayley Bullas and Sophie McDonald, alongside Adele Arnup, Ayesha Razvi and Mackenzie Thompson, with Melissa Mettam, Emily Pickett and Julia Uhe coming out but remaining at emergencies. Bullas will team up with Sasha Goranova and Jess Low in the midfield which will cause some headaches for the sharks, whilst McDonald will join forces with consistent defenders, Rachel Ortlepp and Amy Fortescue in the back half.

East Fremantle welcome back Kahra Sprylan into that midfield mix, as well as full-forward Stephanie Dalton who replaces Sara Lewis, defender Rachel Ashley, and then Doma Fedele and youngster Gabby Radojkovich coming onto the bench. Alli Nokes, Samara Pluschke and Torrens Revell were among the outs for the home team ahead of the clash. Rosie Walsh remains at full-back for the Sharks, with Hayley O’Donnell, Ashleigh Gomes and Madeline Ross creating some run on the outside, and clever Larissa Versaci up forward. Sharon Wong and Kate Inglis-Hodge will look to take control with Sprylan in a massive midfield battle against the equally-talented Tigers onball brigade.

WAFL WOMEN’S ROUND 8 FIXTURES:

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

Picture credit: WAFL

2021 WAFL Women’s Round 7 preview: Bowen returns to Swans as sides roll out changes after week off

THE West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s competition top three teams will have a chance to extend their lead on the bottom three sides when they clash with their counterparts for Round 7 in the competition. Top of the table Swan Districts take on fourth placed East Fremantle, reigning premiers Peel Thunder how Subiaco, and third placed Claremont lock horns with South Fremantle.

In the first game of the round early tomorrow morning South Fremantle will search for its first win of the season up against Claremont, with a number of changes made to the Bulldogs’ outfit since Round 6. Reanne Pickett and Kara Turley come onto the bench, while Sheridan Kowald and Everylyn Burry will lock down the key defence. The in-form Claremont will look to bounce back from a loss after four straight wins, bringing back the likes of Sarah Garstone, Kate Orme and Sasha Goranova in a crucial week of inclusions.

With the state’s top youth in Victoria, it will be up to some of the other young talents in Hunter Cronin and Shakira Pickett (South Fremantle) up against still young experienced talents who have garnered AFL Women’s club interest in the past, in Ella Smith and Jess Low. The Tigers midfield and overall depth should be too much with Rachel Ortlepp and Tess Doumanis up opposite ends among more names able to dictate play, while Lauren Vecchio, Tahlia Holtze and Pia Durk form a strong midfield core.

Peel Thunder return to David Grays Arena tomorrow to try and keep separation on third placed Claremont by taking down Subiaco. The Thunder will of course be without their abundance of youth in Victoria for the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships, while Subiaco will bring back Lara Filocamo, but lose Maggie Maclachlan as the sides all added extended benches for the match.

The reigning premiers still have more than enough firepower to get by, getting the job done last week, and the forward line containing Kira Phillips, Kate Bartlett and Bailey Molloy, while Tanisha Anderson, Ebony Dowson and Cassie Davidson hold down the defence. For the Lions, Jess Ritchie is a quality ruck to have, was captain Tarnica Golisano, teaming up with Liana Burchell and Lara Filocamo will give the visitors an advantage through the midfield, whilst youngsters Kia Buckley and Jamie Rust are others up forward to watch.

In the final game of the round, East Fremantle will plot to overthrow the previously unbeaten Swan Districts, and have a massive chance to do so with some huge chances. They do lose the likes of Alex Williams, Anjelique Raison, Kahra Sprylan, Evie Gooch and Alli Nokes, but have regained the services of Sharon Wong and Kate Inglis-Hodge onball, Paisley Prentice and Sara Lewis up forward, and Rosie Walsh named at full back upon return for the Sharks.

Swan Districts will be without Mikayla Morrison – though she has been named as an out before and still played – as well as reliable defender-turned-ruck Aimee Ralph. They regain a massive inclusion in West Coast’s Mikayla Bowen who will dictate the midfield for the Swannies now the Eagles’ season is over in the AFL Women’s, and work well with the likes of Jess Cox and Kloe Taylor in there. With tall targets Emily McGuire and Sarah Wielstra up either end and some other youngsters in Jaime Henry and Danielle Wright to look out for, Swan Districts still has plenty of talent.

WAFL WOMEN’S ROUND 7 FIXTURE:

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

Image Credit: (Retrieved from) West Coast FC

Swan Districts maintain reputation as benchmark in big win over Claremont

IF you want to win the West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s flag this year, you will have to get through Swan Districts. Heading into the top of the table clash, it was evident we would find out which team is the real deal, and now we know for sure. Despite Claremont heading into the game only one win behind their opponents, they were convincingly beaten by the Swans in what turned out to be a somewhat one-sided affair. The first quarter was as even as it gets, with both teams heading into the first break tied. The final three quarters belonged to the Districts as they put their opponents under immense pressure, as they ran out victors 7.4 (46) to 2.1 (13).

The two best teams in the competition heading into the match unfortunately played each other on the same weekend as a representative competition. This meant both sides put a significantly weaker side than previous weeks, but this didn’t matter. Both teams went into the game with talent all over the ground and this showed in the first quarter. The game was even all over the ground, with physical contests and hard-won clearances going either way. The Swans kicked the first goal through Hayley Cole, who was the recipient of some terrific hands in traffic from the home team. The lead was short-lived however, as Claremont responded immediately through Ella Smith, who capped off her blistering start to the game with a major of her own.

The armwrestle continued as neither side could gain an advantage, with the Swan Districts’ second goal followed up by another immediate response from the Tigers. At quarter time, it looked as if the match would be a closely fought contest. This all changed in the second quarter though, when Swan Districts were able to break away, tackling hard and forcing their opponents into turnovers, all the while hitting the scoreboard themselves. The third quarter saw Claremont raise the fight to their opposition but failed to capitalise on the scoreboard. Meanwhile, the Swans took their chances inside 50, and the quarter ended with two goals to nil in their favour. Two more goals to Swan Districts in the fourth sealed the win as their undefeated streak continues, and will be hopeful regarding the availability of Aimee Ralph, who was replaced on report. The Tigers slipped to third following the loss, and will be monitoring the wellbeing of Madeleine Scanlon, who was concussed during the match.

For the Swan Districts, the backline duo of Lauren Osbourne and Emily McGuire were remarkable in not only consistently thwarting the forward 50 entries of the Tigers, but also generating some key run from the backline. At different stages, both displayed composure under pressure, and were able to extract the ball from the backline and rebound out of the defensive 50 to find a teammate up the ground. In typical fashion, Jessica Cox was fantastic around the stoppages, and Ralph continued to dominate in the ruck. Taylah Edwards kicked two goals, while Cole, Ralph, Mikayla Morrison, Hope Ugle-Hayward and Chanel Jetta kicked one each. For Claremont, Rachel Ortlepp was exceptional in a losing side, taking plenty of intercept marks and generating some much-needed ball movement out of the backline. Katherine Bennett battled bravely through the midfield, despite the constant pressure. The goal kickers were Smith and Brooke Whyte.

In Round 7, Swan Districts will travel to take on East Fremantle on Sunday as they look to keep their undefeated streak alive. Meanwhile, Claremont will be looking to bounce back against South Fremantle on Saturday morning, who are still searching for their first win.

In the other games across the round, Subiaco smashed the struggling South Fremantle on Saturday afternoon 11.12 (78) to 1.0 (6). For Subiaco, the goal kickers were Kia Buckley and Tarnee Tester with three goals each, Amy Hunt and Kate Pocsidio with two goals each and Abbey Dowrick with one goal. The best players were Buckley, Dowrick, Tester, Ellie Blackmore and Jessica Ritchie. For South Fremantle, Hunter Cronin kicked the only goal for her side. The best players were Kiara Templeman, Ebony Clarkson, Casey Byrne, Tahlia Holtze and Liusaidh Gilchrist.

At New Choice Homes Park, Peel Thunder made easy work of their opponents, defeating East Fremantle 9.5 (59) to 2.7 (19). For Peel Thunder, the goal kickers were Kira Phillips with three goals, Bailey Molloy and Kate Bartlett with two goals apiece, and Ebonee Hardie and Katie Jayne Grieve with one goal each. The best players were Ebony Bilcich, Greta Mckinley, Abby Barnden, Molloy and Skipper Van Peer. For East Fremantle, the goal kickers were Stephanie Dalton and Kahra Sprylan with one goal each. The best players were Madeline Ross, Larissa Versaci, Sprylan, Nadya Browne and Ashleigh Gomes.

Picture credit: WAFL

2021 WAFL Women’s Round 6 preview: Wholesale changes as young guns head to South Australia

MOST sides – but particularly Swan Districts and Peel Thunder – will be heavily depleted in Round 6 of the West Australian Football League (WAFL) competition. Both sides have built a reputation on their abundance of young talent coming through the teams, and now they will need to work around the amount of forced changes in their respective games, with the Swans forced for eight changes due to the AFL Women’s Under U19s matchup between South Australia and Western Australia, and five of six changes for Peel. South Fremantle (two), East Fremantle (one) and Subiaco (none) have fewer forced changes due to the game, but a number of switches at the selection table have still occurred.

Swan Districts will be without Nyra Anderson, Naomi Baker, Dana East, Melisha Hardy, Sarah Lakay, Emma Nanut, Tara Stribley and Bella Edgley for the huge top of the table clash against Claremont, meaning a number of other talents will need to step up. They regain some key position options in the likes of Sarah Wielstra – who missed last week – and Fiona Boucher, while Hayley Cole and Olivia Cripps are among other inclusions for the Swans. They still have a young onball brigade with teenagers Jessica Cox and Kloe Taylor in there, whilst Mikayla Hyde has been named at full-forward alongside the dangerous Mikayla Morrison and Taylah Edwards. Young guns Jaime Henry and Danielle Wright are also in there, too young for the AFL Women’s Under 19s selection.

Claremont on the other hand also have quite a few outs, with five changes including Matilda Dyke heading to South Australia. Sasha Goranova, Kate Orme, Andie Payne and Mikayla Western are also out of the match, though the Tigers do regain the likes of Sarah Garstone and Emma Lendrum among others. Emily Bennett is another player out of the Tigers’ lineup due to her commitments in South Australia, but was not named as an out given she missed the Round 5 clash as well. Amy Fortescue and Rachel Ortlepp will hop to hold down the defensive fort this week, whilst the midfield of Jess Low, Tessa Doumanis and Ella Smith is quality, and former State representatives in Garstone and Jacinta Valentini will look to make the most of their chances against a steadfast defence. This game is a huge chance for Claremont to knock off the undefeated Swans.

At the other end of the ladder, the bottom two sides in Subiaco and South Fremantle lock horns in a must-win game for both teams. The Lions only have the one forced change in Tarnee Tester out of the side, while Maggie MacLachlan replaces that AFL Women’s experience by coming back into the side alongside Holly Hyder, Maud-Annie Foley and Kate Pocsidio. The Lions have a largely unchanged lineup heading into the clash, with Jamie Rust looking strong last week, and Tarnica Golisano, Lara Filocamo and Ellie Blackmore working around Jessica Ritchie at the stoppages. Youngsters Kia Buckley and Abbey Dowrick have the capacity to be game-changes, while Madi Wilkins was impressive, and Claire Ortlepp a reliable source of rebound from the back half.

For South Fremantle, they have lost Makaela Tuhakaraina and Lauren Wakfer to State Academy duties against South Australia, whilst last week’s debutant Bella Clarke is also among six outs this week. Coming into the side are a few important talents in ruck/forward Ella Ward, and midfielder Kiara Templeman, while Shakira Pickett is an excitement machine. Liusaidh Gilchrist and Pia Durk are always dangerous for the red and whites through the middle, whilst the forward trio of Hunter Cronin, Zoe Huggett and Lauren Vecchio is threatening. They will need to be at their best given the outs for the Bulldogs, but will enjoy the challenge taking on a side they narrowly fell short of in Round 1.

In the final match of the round, reigning premiers Peel Thunder – who are coming off two losses in three games – will look to bounce back against East Fremantle. The Thunder have been gutted – in a good way – at the selection table, with their enviable amount of young guns all heading to South Australia. Jaide Britton will co-captain her state at the championships – and as the only fit captain for the first clash against South Australia will toss the coin at Flinders University Stadium – while Jade Briggs, Bella Mann, Ella Roberts and Courtney Rowley will also miss the Thunder’s game. Into the side comes another Rowley in Angel Rowley, whilst Ebonee Hardy is the other player coming in that is named in an extended team. The Thunder will have plenty of talent across the ground, with Kate Bartlett, Bailey Molloy and Kira Phillips all capable of dominating inside 50, while Tanisha Anderson, Cassie Davidson and Ebony Dowson are rock solid up the other end.

East Fremantle have only lost one player to the Academy game in Chloe Reilly, but have lost a ton of experience elsewhere, as full-back Kimberley Boulton, experienced midfielders Sharon Wong and Ann McMahon, as well as Kate Inglis-Hodge are among the outs in the match. It opens the door for a number of other Sharks to come back in, with Evie Gooch the big name returning for Round 6. She joins Cadian Lodge, Nikki Phillips and Stephanie Dalton in slotting straight into the starting side. The Sharks will lack experience, but still have youth, as Anjelique Raison and Gabby Radojkovich are forward talents, and Alli Nokes providing the physicality in defence. Ashleigh Gomes, Kahra Sprylan and Larissa Versaci have the experience to overcome the Thunder midfield, whilst Alex Williams and Hayley O’Donnell are still in the backline, and Madeline Ross up forward meaning the home team could cause an upset and string their third win together and join the Thunder on 3-3.

WAFL WOMEN’S ROUND 6 FIXTURES:

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

Picture credit: Owen Davies / Peel Thunder

2021 AFLW U19 Championships state preview: Western Australia

IN the second of our 2021 AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships state preview, we take a look at Western Australia, a team that has a real mix of talents from athletic talls, to hard-at-it midfielders, and key position options in abundance. The 31-player squad will take on South Australia on Sunday, before locking horns with both Victorian sides on the Gold Coast in the toughest draw of all the states at the 2021 AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships. The Sandgropers have three AFL Women’s National Academy members, and a number of 2002-born talents who are still in the draft frame, as well as some unbelievable bottom-agers who are pushing their way up for their first draft-eligible year next year.

2021 WESTERN AUSTRALIA AFLW U19 CHAMPIONSHIPS SQUAD:

#1 Sarah Lakay (Swan Districts/East Perth)
#2 Amy Franklin (Claremont/West Perth)
#3 Matilda Dyke (Claremont)
#4 Lauren Wakfer (South Fremantle)
#5 Beth Schilling (Peel Thunder)
#6 Naomi Wilson (Peel Thunder)
#7 Ella Roberts (Peel Thunder)
#8 Ashleigh Reidy (South Fremantle)
#9 Bella Edgley (East Perth/Swan Districts)
#10 Millie Jones (South Fremantle)
#11 Aisha Wright (Peel Thunder)
#12 Emily Gunton (Peel Thunder)
#13 Darcy Clements (South Fremantle)
#14 Charlotte Thomas (Subiaco)
#15 Bella Mann (Peel Thunder)
#16 Emma Nanut (Swan Districts)
#17 Mel Hardy (Swan Districts/East Perth)
#18 Dana East (Swan Districts)
#19 Brianna Hyde (Swan Districts)
#20 Jade Briggs (Peel Thunder)
#21 Emily Bennett (Claremont/West Perth)
#23 Tara Stribley (Swan Districts)
#24 Jaide Britton (Peel thunder)
#25 Chloe Reilly (East Fremantle)
#26 Mylee Leitch (East Fremantle)
#27 Makaela Tuhakaraina (South Fremantle)
#28 Courtney Rowley (Peel Thunder)
#29 Naomi Baker (Swan Districts)
#30 Tajah Griffiths (Peel Thunder)
#31 Kayla May (Swan Districts)
#32 Poppy Stockwell (South Fremantle)

QUICK SUMMARY:

Western Australia has eight 2002-born players, 14 2003-born talents and nine 2004-born representatives to round of the 31-player squad. As has been the case given the lost (or in Western Australia’s case, reduced year) last season, there are a number of 19-year-old talents who are right in the frame for clubs to look at. Brianna Hyde actually has the rare stance of playing at a championships, way back as a 16-year-old in 2018-19. Both Hyde and Nyra Anderson – who has been named for the South Australia clash – will provide the experience required for state-by-state battles. While we will highlight a few 2003-born talents, the player across the board to watch is forward Ella Roberts, with the 16-year-old – and a December-born no less – star already having clutch moments such as winning the WAFL Women’s Grand Final off her boot by converting important majors. AFL Women’s Academy member Charlotte Thomas has been injured this season and is yet to run out for Subiaco, but will be raring to go for the Queensland fixtures in a few weeks, while Hyde herself is recovering from injury.

FIXTURES:

R1 vs. South Australia (March 28 @ Flinders University Stadium)
R2 vs. Vic Metro (April 12 @ Metricon Stadium)
R3 vs. Vic Country (April 15 @ Metricon Stadium)

FIVE TO WATCH: (2003-BORN)

Courtney Rowley (Peel Thunder)

A silky player who has velcro-like hands on the move and a penchant for hitting targets with ease going forward. Think Georgia Patrikios with her run and carry, as well as balanced skills and decision making. Her coach Steve Markham said he would like “to have four or five of her because she can play all over the ground, but I love her on the outside because she runs and spreads and delivers inside 50″. For the first game she has been named onball given her extraction ability, and whilst Rowley is quite light, she generally makes the right choice by hand or foot, and is a player who will be comfortable taking charge to enter the ball going forward. An eye-catching player through the midfield. Another of the AFL Women’s Academy members in the West Australian squad.

Amy Franklin (Claremont)

As versatile as they come, Franklin is one of those talls who are almost unfairly athletic for her size, but it is what makes her so damaging at 177cm. Unlike some taller players who once the ball is at ground level in space they might be out of the contest, Franklin has terrific speed which will often see her not only beat a smaller opponent to the ball, but create greater separation from her. Traditionally a forward, Franklin has spent some time in defence – and even splitting halves at either end during the WAFL Women’s some games – but named on the bench for game one, it will keep the opposition guessing. An AFL Women’s Academy member with Rowley, Franklin is known for her contested work in the air, powerful set shot and by far, her athleticism for a tall.

Chloe Reilly (East Fremantle)

Much like Franklin, Reilly is a versatile talent who plays far taller than her 163cm might suggest. At first glance at her style, Reilly looks 170cm-plus easily with her competitiveness in the air, strong hands and fearlessness to have a crack at anything. Building her consistency across games, Reilly’s best is incredibly eye-catching and she can pull some some good marks – quite often on the lead with some nice pace – or snap goals out of nothing. Having spent time bulking up over the summer, Reilly is prepared for a big carnival against any opponent thrown her way, and has been deployed up both ends this season after plying her trade as an exciting forward last year. A powerful kick who is reliable with her set shots.

Makaela Tuhakaraina (South Fremantle)

A new addition to the WAFL Women’s competition this season, Tuhakaraina comes from a rugby background and possesses some unbelievable athletic traits. Her elite speed and agility is hard not to notice when out on the field, with her power and strength to mow down opponents a feature of her game. She might be new to the code from a game sense, but with such raw talent, she will be a pocket rocket that packs a punch, as the 158cm speedster will look to lock horns with a strong inside midfielder. One of the players that has the greatest upside given the amount that may be untapped, she will be one to watch at the carnival.

Sarah Lakay (Swan Districts)

One of the most exciting to watch battles will be Lakay up against Zoe Prowse in Adelaide, because Lakay has the athleticism to go with Prowse, and loves a tackle from a second effort as well. She will have the height advantage over nearly any opponent by standing at 186cm, and her athleticism for her size is enviable, not afraid to be made a link in transition. She can play forward or back as well as through the ruck, but expect her to be handed the keys to the ruck division, rotating in with bottom-age talent Lauren Wakfer, as the pair showcase their around-the-ground work just as much as their ruck nous. Another developing talent with upside.

OTHERS:

Charlotte Thomas would very easily be on the list above as an AFL Women’s Academy member, and possessing some great skills and versatility, but is still returning from injury. In terms of other 2003-born players, forward Bella Edgley has been ultra consistent in kicking a goal every game in the WAFL Women’s as one of the big improvers, whilst in defence, Melisha Hardy and Emma Nanut will provide strength one-on-one and drive the ball out of the back 50. Key position talent Beth Schilling has the capacity to roll through the ruck, but is a competitive player who is not afraid to get her hands dirty. From a top-age perspective, co-captains Hyde and Jaide Britton will lead by example, whilst Dana East is arguably the most consistent Academy member in the WAFL Women’s this season, in what was her debut year after stepping up from local football. Emily Bennett is a hardened defender with a powerful kick.

SQUAD STRENGTHS:

  • Athleticism
  • Contested marking
  • Forward X-factor
  • Defensive one-on-ones

Western Australia will certainly be an eye-catching team, but it is the Sandgropers balance across the board from its talls to smalls that make it so damaging. Unlike South Australia who only have a few players above 175cm, Western Australia have four above 180cm, and another three at 175cm-plus. The athleticism and work around the ground of Lakay and Wakfer in the ruck will be a strength, but the talls can also pull down contested marks, with Franklin, Roberts and Edgley all strong overhead. They have that forward X-factor with other bottom-age talents in Mylee Leitch, Ashleigh Reidy and Aisha Wright all exciting at the feet of the keys, whilst defensively, Bennett, Hardy and Matilda Dyke will be hard to beat one-on-one. Tara Stribley is a wing who has plenty of X-factor and upside for next year.

In terms of an area where they are inexperienced is potentially inside 50. With the game on Sunday featuring four starting bottom-age forwards, the front six inside 50 is quite raw and developing, where as a lot of the defenders in the other sides have the extra experience and will look to use that in contested situations. The forward line has the capacity to break the game open and really excite everyone watching, but they will have to overcome players who are superb at reading the ball in flight and will not allow them much space to run.

LAST WORD:

Western Australia is going to be an exciting team to watch, with plenty of bottom-agers coming through, and some seriously improved talents over the last 12 months. It will be a tough draw for them to play both Victorian sides and South Australia, but they will not be afraid to take it up to them, and no doubt provide plenty of running and talent around the ground, with athleticism that could worry those sides.

Picture credit: Owen Davies/Peel Thunder

Swan Districts flex muscles with strong win against Subiaco

SWAN Districts have retained top spot on the ladder after setting up their Sunday afternoon win with a dominant first half performance to win 7.12 (54) to 2.6 (18). In 37-degree heat, the Swans led Subiaco 44-1 at half-time, in what was a clinical performance with contributors all over the ground. In a surprise turn of events, the second half belonged to the visitors as Subiaco were able to negate the attacking ball movement of Swan Districts and outscore their opponent 17-10 to finish the game with promising signs. The second half fade out may disappoint the Swans, but their scintillating first half meant the result was never in doubt.

From the opening bounce, the Swans stamped themselves on the game, dominating clearances and opening up a three-goal lead heading into the first break, and they were not done yet. The exceptional ball movement continued into the second quarter as the pace and ball use of their midfielders and backline created plenty of scoring opportunities for their forward line. Subiaco were beaten around the ball, and when they finally constructed some good play, their forward 50 entries let them down. It almost seemed like a message to the rest of the competition, as the Swans showcased their ability to win the ball and hurt their opposition with their clean ball movement. With a 43-point half-time lead, things were looking ominous for not only Subiaco, but all the teams in the path of the Swans.

The second half told a much different story. Subiaco showed no signs of the team that was stunned earlier on, controlling the game and putting their opponents under constant relentless pressure. Inaccurate kicking meant Subiaco only closed the gap by 10 points, but the signs were promising for a young team in the midst of a rebuild. The fourth quarter was more of the same, with Dana East’s second goal sealing the result and sending her side to the top of the ladder, undefeated after five rounds.

The loss of Sarah Wielstra from the team allowed regular fullback Aimee Ralph to spend more time in the ruck and around the ground, an opportunity she grabbed with both hands. Ralph exerted her influence all over the ground, whether it was perfect palm downs to her midfielders on the run, winning ground balls in an often scrappy game, or hurting the opposition on the scoreboard, chiming in for a goal of her own. The coaches would be wrapped with her ability to adapt to another position and put in a best on ground performance. East was damaging through the middle, using her pace around the ground and kicking two goals. Fellow midfielder Jessica Cox was damaging at ground level, winning plenty of clearances. Mikayla Morrison hit the scoreboard with two goals of her own, while Bella Edgley and Nyra Anderson kicked one goal each.

For Subiaco, the midfield duo of Tarnica Gosliano and Lara Filocamo were major factors in the second half fightback, winning the ball not only at centre clearances but all over the ground. The duo stepped up to bring their team back into the game, and were well assisted by Sarah Walters on the wing, who fought hard in the first half, winning plenty of the ball despite the constant pressure by the Swans. Taylisha Brown and Hayley Corlett kicked one goal apiece.

The win put Swan Districts one game clear on top of the ladder as they prepare to host second placed Claremont in a blockbuster clash on Saturday morning. Subiaco currently sits in fifth place at one win and four losses but will be looking to break the drought against the 0-5 South Fremantle on Saturday afternoon.

In other games this weekend, East Fremantle put in an outstanding performance, smashing the last placed South Fremantle 10.12 (72) to 4.2 (26). For East Fremantle, the goal kickers were Gabby Radojkovich and Paisley Prentice with two goals each and Chloe Reilly, Sharon Wong, Madeline Ross, Ann Mcmahon, Anjelique Raison and Ashleigh Gomes all kicking one goal. Their best players were Alex Williams, Wong, Ellie Sanders, Mcmahon and Kahra Sprylan. For South Fremantle, the goal kickers were Zoe Huggett with two goals and Makaela Tuhakaraina and Makayla Cocking with one goal each. Their best players were Pia Durk, Casey Byrne, Lauren Wakfer and Lauren Vecchio.

At Revo Fitness Stadium, Claremont won in a thriller against the Peel Thunder, claiming the win 5.6 (36) to 5.3 (33). For Claremont, the goal kickers were Katherine Bennett with two goals and Sasha Goranova, Ella Smith and Madeleine Scanlon with one goal each. Their best players were Matilda Dyke, Jessica Low, Bennett, Mackenzie Webb and Jacinta Valentini. For the Peel Thunder, their goal kickers were Kate Bartlett and Kira Phillips with two goals each and Ella Roberts with one goal of her own. Their best players were Chloe Wrigley, Cassie Davidson, Courtney Rowley, Bella Mann and Abby Barnden.