Category: Swan Districts

WAFLW wrap – Semi-finals: Peel Thunder books automatic WAFLW Grand Final spot, as Subiaco tames Tigers

REIGNING premiers Peel Thunder are one win away from back-to-back flags, defeating minor premiers Swan Districts for the second time in three weeks to book an automatic spot in the West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s Grand Final. The Thunder earned themselves a week off with a hard-fought win in the torrential rain, defeating an inaccurate Swans outfit, 2.4 (16) to 0.11 (11).

Despite the Swans having far more chances on goal reflected by their 11 straight behinds, they could not seem to split the big sticks, through a combination of inaccuracy from set shots, and some desperate defending on the last line by the Peel backline. Three Swans players kicked multiple behinds on their way to the narrow defeat, though they were always in with a shot, only going down by a kick in the end.

Demi Liddle was absolutely sensational on the last line for Peel, saving numerous scoring chances, starting with a big tackle on Taylah Edwards in the opening 90 seconds of the match to force a behind. As the rain poured down, Peel started to have a few repeat forward entries, and whilst Ella Roberts‘ flying shot was off target, the teenager was able to weight a handball perfectly to Katie-Jayne Grieve in the final minute of the term to put through the first goal of the game.

Moments later Grieve had a chance, but strong defender Lauren Osborne was up to the task to put enough pressure on her opponent to force a missed kick and only a behind. Peel dominated the majority of the opening term, but only had a seven-point lead to show for it, with the rain causing all sorts of havoc. Ebony Bilcich and Kira Phillips were both looking dangerous in the forward half of the ground, but the likes of Osborne and Swans captain Emily McGuire were holding up the fort well.

Young defender Mel Hardy almost had a moment to forget early in the second term with the usually reliable ball user opting to kick across goal but mis-hitting the pass and landing in the goalsquare with the dangerous Phillips. Not realising she had more time, Phillips tried to quickly soccer off the ground but missed, much to the relief of the home team. Peel was doing all the attacking early, but the likes of Jaime Henry were standing up under pressure, as the teenager took a great mark in the defensive goalsquare.

Swans then took control of the momentum with repeat forward thrusts, kicking three behinds for the game, with a number of chances – such as Nyra Anderson‘s set shot and Kloe Taylor‘s running attempt – falling short with Phillips working hard to be up the other end with a strong, safe grab on the last line. At half-time, the sole goal to Grieve had the Thunder up by just five points, 1.3 (9) to 0.4 (4).

The third term saw chance after chance go begging for the top of the table side, as they slotted six behinds in some atrocious conditions. The Swans picked the worst quarter to have all the momentum, with the rain pouring down and making any sort of clean chances hard to come by. Sarah Wielstra had a couple of shots on goal early but could not find the big sticks, with the usually-reliable Dana East on the run also missing, and even McGuire, who is one of the safest kicks in the competition, drifted her set shot to the left.

As the rain bucketed down, Aisha Wright had a chance but missed to the left and was rushed through, to give Peel an important two-point buffer. Swans continued to have repeat entries, with the Thunder almost taking full advantage of a rare inside 50, but Aimee Ralph was able to save the day with a vital mark in front of Phillips with two and a half minutes on the clock. Stribley had the final shot of the day, running into goal and was tackled in the back right on the siren, allowing the bottom-ager to have a shot after the siren. Her set shot – like so many of her teammates – drifted for a behind, but the Swans had somehow levelled the scores at the final break despite not kicking a goal.

If anyone was wondering if the Swans could win the game off not kicking a goal, then the curiosity kicked up a notch early in the final term. Liddle was unbelievable on the last line, clearing it from danger, but then required to dive with desperation. East had a flying shot, Mikayla Hyde kicked off the ground, but a terrific defensive effort from Liddle to touch the ball saw it rushed through. Regardless, the unthinkable had happened, Swan Districts lead early in the last without kicking a goal, 0.11 (11) to 1.4 (10).

The final term was mostly an arm wrestle, with Kate Bartlett almost hitting a low bullet to a couple of free teammates inside the goalsquare, but a desperate Henry managed to get in the way and stop a certain goal. Steph Cain had a flying shot towards goal up the other end, but another terrific defensive effort – this time from Greta McKinley – saved the day. McKinley not only got a fist on a bouncing ball towards goal, but put it out of bounds to avoid the deficit going to two points.

Then the moment came. Peel had been bravely defending for the majority of the final term, and the quick ball movement from one end to the other saw a clash of bodies inside 50. Bartlett was on the deck, copped a high whack and made sure the umpire saw it, awarding the competition’s leading goalkicker with a set shot in front of goal. Becoming the first person in the match to split the big sticks from a set shot, Bartlett’s attempt made everyone else look silly as she popped it through and kicked what would be the match-winner for her side with six minutes left on the clock.

The Swans desperately tried getting it forward in the final few minutes, with Stribley trying to run inside 50 but was mowed down by fellow State Academy member Jaide Britton, then a quick passage of play forward by the Swans was intercepted by Cassie Davidson in defence. She along with Liddle had been outstanding, and despite the ball being in the Swans forward half when the siren sounded, Peel had done enough to secure the narrow five-point win and book a spot in the grand final, 2.4 (16) to 0.11 (11).

Eliza Gelmi had done well with Osborne and McGuire in defence, with Bianca Webb, Cain and Stribley all named amongst the best. For the Thunder, Liddle and Davidson were outstanding, with Sabreena Duffy and Chloe Wrigley winning plenty of it through the middle, and Bilcich having some terrific plays in the match. Now the Thunder get a well-earned break before playing at home against the winner of Swan Districts and Subiaco.

SWAN DISTRICTS 0.1 | 0.4 | 0.10 | 0.11 (11)
PEEL THUNDER 1.2 | 1.3 | 1.4 | 2.4 (16)

GOALS:

Swan Districts: Nil.
Peel Thunder: K. Grieve, K. Bartlett.

DC BEST:

Swan Districts: L. Osborne, E. Gelmi, S. Cain, T. Stribley, B. Webb
Peel Thunder: D. Liddle, C. Wrigley, S. Duffy, C. Davidson, E. Bilcich

In the do-or-die semi-final, Subiaco held off a determined Claremont by three points in equally wet conditions to remain in contention for the 2021 WAFL Women’s title. The Lions had all the momentum in the first term but could only slot five behinds, as Claremont kicked two of the next three goals to lead by four points at the final break. A late major via a free kick for front-on contact to Amy Hunt handed the Lions the goal they needed, to ensure they won 2.6 (18) to 2.3 (15).

The first quarter was really scrappy but dominated by Subiaco, who did not let it inside the Claremont forward 50 for the majority of the term. There were various shots on goal, but Hayley Miller and Lara Filocamo had the best chances, with the latter after the siren hitting the post to make it five straight behinds for the visitors.

AFL Women’s Academy young gun Amy Franklin kicked the first goal of the game in a stunning against-the-momentum play with a rare inside 50 for the Tigers and beating her opponent one-on-one to win the ball and run into the open goalsquare just two and a half minutes into the game. The sun was back out shining making life a little easier for the players, but Subiaco could still not find the range with Hunt winning a free kick, giving it off to the usually deadly McKenzie Dowrick but her flying shot went out on the full.

Jess Low and Maggie MacLachlan were dominating for their respective sides, and it took a quick kick where luck’s a fortune for Kate Pocsidio to hit-up a sliding Miller. She finally converted her side’s first goal of the contest, and the Lions took a four-point lead into the main break. Both sides had chances late in the term, but the scores stood at 1.5 (11) to 1.1 (7) in favour of the visitors.

Early in the third it was clear the tables had turned in Claremont’s favour, as Low was having a brilliant day alongside midfield partner-in-crime Andie Payne. Tessa Doumanis had a chance from a snap but just skewed it under pressure, before Brooke Whyte and Mikayla Western had opportunities but could not convert. Finally it took some kicks forward in the wet for Amber Goodwin-Wissink to put one through the big sticks, not phased by being brought down, nailing the goal on the run and handing her side the lead midway through the term.

Emily Elkington and Western were getting their hands on the ball to complement Low and Payne, providing good run in forward transition. This time it was Claremont’s turn to have plenty of forward half possession, but make little from it, only kicking the 1.2 in the term. The Tigers did keep Subiaco scoreless in the term, with the respective Ortlepp‘s – Rachel and Claire – toiling hard up opposite ends. By the time the siren sounded, Claremont led by four points, 2.3 (15) to 1.5 (11).

For the most part the final term was a real battle, as Subiaco started strongly with some repeat entries, as the usually reliable Claremont defence was having clanger after clanger coming out of the back 50. They gave the Lions plenty of chances, and eventually the overwhelming pressure was rewarded. A one-on-one between Rachel Ortlepp and Hunt in the forward pocket saw Hunt bump Ortlepp off the ball, win it at ground level and her Claremont opponent desperate to win it back, crashed into her clumsily.

It handed Hunt what seemed like a near-impossible shot in the conditions, about 20m out on the boundary, but the forward made no mistake, popping it through like she was in the goalsquare and the Lions were back in front. Ella Smith was trying to will her side on in the game, with Payne and Low both productive, but Smith’s great tackle inside 50 and attempt to pass to Goodwin-Wissink 15m out was called back. Her shot to the square looked dangerous, but the safe hands of Jayme Harken ensured it did not cause any damage to the visitors.

Tackle after tackle from the Subiaco side really showed their determination late in the contest of what had been a hard slog. Claire Ortlepp mowed down Mhicca Carter, then Taylisha Brown caught Low, accidentally kicking it into the midfielder trying to return it to the field of play. A late intercept mark from Caitlin Walker, then the team defence of Subiaco to gain meterage out of the back 50 in the final minute, followed by a last second tackle by Jamie Rust, ensured the Lions fans went home happy, knowing they had reached a preliminary final.

CLAREMONT 0.0 | 1.1 | 2.3 | 2.3 (15)
SUBIACO 0.5 | 1.5 | 1.5 | 2.6 (18)

GOALS:

Claremont: A. Franklin, A. Goodwin-Wissink.
Subiaco: H. Miller, A. Hunt.

BEST:

Claremont: J. Low, R. Ortlepp, M. Western, E. Smith, A. Payne
Subiaco: A. Hunt, H. Miller, J. Rust, J. Harken, M. MacLachlan

 

Picture credit: Total Sports Photography via Peel Thunder

WAFLW preview – Semi-Finals: Lions and Tigers battle to remain alive as Thunder and Swans face off for grand final spot

IT is finals time in the West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s competition, with the final four teams remaining in the title race, and only three will be there by Sunday night. We preview the two huge clashes.

CLAREMONT vs. SUBIACO
Sunday, June 20 @1:30pm
Revo Fitness Stadium

It is do or die time for Claremont and Subiaco as the Tigers are back in the finals series after missing out in 2020. This year Claremont replaces East Fremantle in the final four, whilst Subiaco will hope to extinguish its recent finals history by bouncing back and going all the way in season 2021. They will have to do it the hard way however as the lowest placed side coming into finals, whilst the Tigers are fresh off wins against not only Subiaco a fortnight ago, but Peel Thunder last week, giving them confidence they can match it with anyone on their day, and give themselves a huge chance to go deep in the WAFL Women’s finals series.

The Claremont defence is strong with West Coast key defender Sophie McDonald and West Australian State Academy member Matilda Dyke along with the likes of the reliable Rachel Ortlepp and experienced Amy Fortescue. They will look to find a way to restrict former Eagles and Lions AFLW talent McKenzie Dowrick who can create plenty of scoring opportunities in the forward half, as well as Jamie Rust, Madi Wilkins and Amy Hunt. Up the other end, Tessa Doumanis and Amy Franklin have been on fire for the Tigers and will both want to put their best foot forward ahead of the AFLW Draft Combine, whilst Brooke Whyte, Mhicca Carter and Amber Goodwin-Wissink are all capable of kicking multiple goals in a match.

Claire Ortlepp will hope to have the family bragging rights running out for Subiaco, and she has experience in the back 50 with Tayla Thorogood and Jayme Harken among those back there. Through the middle, the ruck battle between Matilda Husband and Jess Ritchie will be fascinating as Hayley Miller, Tarnica Golisano and Maggie MacLachlan going up against Ella Smith, Kate Orme and Jess Low make it some tantalising battles. Throw in the likes of Sarah Garstone and the exciting Mikayla Western off the bench for Claremont, and Lara Filocamo and youngster Kia Buckley for Subiaco, and the teams are well balanced.

It is anticipated to be a close game, and their last outing saw just one point separating them, but Claremont have the runs on the board of late, and are at home, so the Tigers in a tight one

SWAN DISTRICTS vs. PEEL THUNDER
Sunday, June 20 @ 2:30pm
Steel Blue Oval

The top two teams do battle at Steel Blue Oval on Sunday in what is a blockbuster clash between the sides. The reigning premiers Peel Thunder come in as the lower ranked team this year, but they can bring the positivity that they were the only team to knock over Swan Districts in the regular season, and it only happened a fortnight ago. The Thunder stumbled against Claremont last week with a couple of injuries to young talents Courtney Rowley and Jade Briggs, but will be hoping to bounce back and book their spot in a second straight grand final. For Swan Districts, the minor premiers will be keen to reward their terrific home and away season and advance through to the final match of the season by turning the tables on the team that defeated them recently.

Peel’s firepower up front is what makes it so damaging. Lead by leading goalkicker Kate Bartlett who shares the goals around with Western Australia’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) at the AFLW Under 19 Championships, Ella Roberts, and former WAFLW best and fairest winner Kira Phillips, the Thunder have plenty of targets inside 50. Swan Districts’ defence is rock solid with Emily McGuire and Eliza Gelmi providing great lessons to their younger teammates, Under 19s state representatives Nyra Anderson and Mel Hardy, and Under 17s representative Jaime Henry forming a young but talented defence. Up the other end, Bella Edgley and Dana East are some young guns in the black and white to look out for, with Bianca Webb and Aimee Ralph providing more experience to the side. Peel’s defence of Ebony Dowson, Demi Liddle, Cassie Davidson and Tanisha Anderson is unbelievable, and always hard to score against.

Looking to the midfield, Sarah Wielstra will have first crack in the ruck against Lauren Quaife, with Sarah Lakay on the bench ready to rotate through there. Mikayla Hyde, Jess Cox and Imahra Cameron onball, and Steph Cain and Tara Stribley on the wings, and the Swans have plenty of hardened talents and running players as well. They will lock horns with an equally impressive five of Gracie Fenton and Chloe Wrigley who both shone last week for the Thunder, as well as AFLW experienced talents in Sarah Verrier, Sabreena Duffy and Katie Jayne Grieve. Also on the bench are state representatives Brianna Hyde and Kloe Taylor who are sure to provide a spark for the Swans, while the state Under 19s captain Jaide Britton, defender Bella Mann and fellow youngster Emily Gunton shows the ridiculous depth the Thunder have at their disposal

It is near impossible to split the lineups here with AFLW players and future AFLW players galore, but Swan Districts finished on top of the table and will be keen to make that count for something after the loss a fortnight ago, though the depth at Peel is remarkable.

 

Picture credit: WAFL

2021 AFLW Draft Positional Analysis: Rucks

AFTER announcing the inaugural AFLW Draft Power Rankings Victorian Pool, Draft Central is starting a new series – Positional Analysis. It takes a look across the nation and those players within a certain position, and the impact they have. First up is rucks, where versatility and upside comes into play, though a number of the pure rucks have plenty of standout traits and everyone on this list is more than capable at the next level. All opinions are of the individual author.

#1 Zoe Prowse (Sturt/South Australia)
03/07/2003 | 177cm
Ruck/Key Forward/Midfielder

Key strengths: Athleticism, versatility, clean hands, tackling pressure

The standout ruck across the nation is AFL Women’s Academy talent, Zoe Prowse. Though if you had just tuned in to the 2021 SANFL Women’s season, you might have mistaken her for being a ruck, having also played as a key forward and remarkably, a midfielder. She is the ultimate utility, whom at 177cm can play anywhere. Her athleticism around the ground is superb, and she can find the football as well as any midfielder which makes her one of the more readymade rucks coming through junior programs. Prowse’s vertical leap is massive, but she can also get her hands dirty, laying plenty of tackles and causing a real nuisance at ground level. At the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships, Prowse had to carry the ruck load given the Croweaters’ lack of talls and injuries to fellow rucks, to average 18.3 disposals, 2.3 marks, 22.3 hitouts, 4.0 tackles, 3.0 inside 50s and 2.0 rebound 50s in a complete performance across the board.

#2 Georgia Campbell (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
01/09/2003 | 182cm
Ruck/Key Forward

Key strengths: Ruck work, mobility, forward presence, high impact

The upside for father-daughter eligible prospect Georgia Campbell is quite impressive, with the talented ruck able to rest up forward for parts during games due to Eastern Ranges’ abundance of rucks. There she was still able to kick five goals in eight games to go with her 20.9 hitouts, and also slotted a goal for Vic Metro while averaging a higher 12 disposals, and 12 hitouts at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships. The Western Bulldogs supporter is eligible to go to the Dogs, or Melbourne, and will be nominated in the near future. She has great mobility for a ruck and can get around the ground and be an option, and also provide a good presence when inside 50 which makes her difficult to contain. Compared to Prowse, Campbell is not as high of a ball-winner, but is a stronger presence one-one-one, is slightly taller and has been able to spend more time up forward.

#3 Tahlia Gillard (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)
12/12/2003 | 190cm
Ruck/Key Forward

Key strengths: Mobility, versatility, size, athleticism

The towering ruck/forward’s AFL Women’s Academy season makes it into the top 20 overall (third on these rankings) on the back of a solid overall season. Whilst she still needs to work on clunking more grabs above her head, Gillard’s work around the ground and ability to get to repeat contests for a ruck and running as a midfielder is really impressive. Often towering over her opponents, Gillard moves incredibly well, and is a tall that teammates are not afraid to use in transition, as she rotated between the ruck and full forward to average 11.3 disposals and 14.1 hitouts, as well as a couple of inside 50s per game. A December birth, Gillard has plenty of upside that with time could develop into a damaging tall. There is a running theme with athletic and versatile rucks, and Gillard might have some development to go, but with the extra height – 13cm more than Prowse for example – she can certainly dominate with her mobility.

#4 Sarah Lakay (Swan Districts/Western Australia)
20/02/2003 | 186cm
Ruck/Key Forward

Key strengths: Athleticism, vertical leap, clean hands, overhead marking

A little more raw than the three others, Lakay has developed her game coming from a basketball background at quickly learning the ropes at Swan Districts. The talented tall is just as athletic as the others in this list, and one of the stronger contested marks in the ruck crop. Both West Australian teams would have to be considering Lakay for her upside, particularly given she has the clean hands both at stoppages and around the ground. She moves well and has competed strongly at WAFL Women’s level, and whilst her ruck craft is still always improving and her fitness is another area she cited as a way to build her game, she is a player with exciting potential. At 186cm, Lakay is taller than most rucks, and whilst she even admitted that coming up against Prowse was a challenge at the AFLW Under 19 Championships, she acquitted herself well in the second game against Vic Metro, sharing the ruck load with Lauren Wakfer.

#5 Ally Morphett (Murray Bushrangers/GWS GIANTS Academy/Allies)
11/11/2003 | 188cm
Ruck

Key strengths: Ruck craft, strength, one-on-ones, work rate

The AFL Women’s Academy ruck is the strongest one on the list, able to compete against senior players with ease. Rather than beating them through athleticism like many of those in this group, Morphett has a point of difference in the fact that she is able to win through strength and power, happy to engage in one-on-ones. Whilst not likely to burst away quickly from a contest, Morphett will wear down opposition rucks with her work rate, and is one of the more pure rucks in the draft crop. She came second in the AFL Canberra Best and Fairest last year as a 16-year-old, and has not done too much wrong for the Bushrangers, GIANTS or Allies in their respective campaigns. Morphett has natural leadership to-boot, captaining the Allies at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships, and with her superb ruck work, she is one that many can learn off at stoppages.

#6 Grace Matser (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)
03/01/2003 | 186cm
Ruck

Key strengths: Footy IQ, ruck craft, endurance, kicking

If we are talking about points of difference, then Gippsland Power ruck Matser certainly has that in a ruck. Standing at 186cm, Matser is an early 2003 birth, but has been involved in the Power program since the V/Line Cup days, even as a developing tall back then. What really makes Matser stand out compared to other rucks is her footy IQ and her kicking. Being a left footer, Matser uses the ball well around the ground, so is a player that teammates are happy to give the ball to and dispose of, with her ball drop, technique and delivery inside 50 quite impressive. When watching Matser at stoppages, she always gets to the right position, and whether or not she wins the tap, she has made life difficult for her opponent. The area of improvement for Matser is her overhead marking, mostly because she does everything right – positioning, timing the ball drop and protecting the zone – but needs to hold onto the grabs. Around the ground in play, Matser is as influential as any ruck, and when she can clunk those grabs, will become a more influential key position tall at either end.

#7 Leah Cutting (Norwood/SANFL Women’s)
14/03/1992 | 185cm
Ruck

Key strengths: Tackling, strength, one-on-ones, consistency

Last but certainly not least of the AFLW Draft Combine invites is mature-age ruck Cutting out of Norwood. If the list was on readymade ability, Cutting would be number one by a long way, with the 29-year-old having cut her teeth in the SANFL Women’s level for many years. Obviously it goes without saying she had more than a decade on her contemporaries, so Cutting is perfect for a team looking for a readymade ruck replacement and someone who can slot straight into a side. Every time a Norwood player is mentioned it is hard to ignore the link with ex-Redlegs coach Steve Symonds, whose Magpies have lost two rucks – Sharni Norder and Abbey Green – for one coming in – Alison Downie – so they could look to another experienced body to join the program. At SANFL Women’s level, Cutting averages 12.7 disposals, 2.6 marks, 2.5 clearances, 2.2 inside 50s, 8.2 tackles and 30.1 hitouts at senior level, with remarkable consistency.

SUMMARY:

There are seven genuine ruck options available for AFL Women’s clubs from an AFLW Draft Combine invite perspective, with three of them being more pure rucks, and the other four a mix being rucks who rotate forward, and genuine utilities around the ground. In terms of overall Power Rankings, Prowse would be a top five pick such is her overall talent and upside, which she showed at the AFLW Under 19s Championships. The most readymade ruck is Cutting, and the cleanest ball user is Matser, with Morphett being the strongest, and Gillard, Campbell and Lakay being the most versatile after Prowse. In the end, it comes down to what type of ruck clubs are looking for, as they all offer different traits which makes it fascinating.

WAFLW wrap – Round 15: Claremont goes back-to-back against finals-bound sides

CLAREMONT has put its hand up as a genuine West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s premiership contender after the Tigers’ second successive win against a finals-bound side on the weekend. Claremont defeated reigning premier Peel Thunder by seven points – just a week after knocking off fourth placed Subiaco – to secure a home final this weekend. The Tigers will lock horns with the Lions in the first week of finals, with a win seeing them take on either the Thunder or top of the table Swan Districts the following week.

The 6.4 (40) to 4.9 (33) result in favour of the Tigers was more down to capitalising on chances than anything else, with three less scoring shots, but a three goals to zero second term giving the home team some separation on the scoreboard. Not even an inspired game by star teenager Ella Roberts could help the Thunder get over the line, though they did draw within a kick late in the game to give the home fans something to worry about.

It looked like a finals game early with neither side able to take much of an advantage as the tackling pressure was sky-high. Peel’s defence was holding up well against a flurry of Claremont forward thrusts, but then the reigning premiers showed how they managed to topple Swan Districts last week, by getting it up the other end and being the first to score through a Kate Bartlett behind. Roberts was already getting involved, but the Claremont defence was steadfast, as Sophie McDonald rushed through a behind off a Jaide Britton flying shot on the line.

Instead the ball went up the other end and Tessa Doumanis – fresh off an invite to the AFL Women’s Draft Combine – narrowly missed a chance on the run as she was taken down, then won a free kick after being tackled high by Ebony Dowson, and converted the goal just before the 10-minute mark of the quarter. Two minutes later, it was Roberts who created some magic with a free kick, drilling ball that bounced off her teammates’ chest, received it back, sidestepped an opponent and slotted it off a standing start as if she was strolling into an easy goal. When Aisha Wright had a quick kick that bounced through for a behind, Peel lead by three points, and Jacinta Valentini saved a potential late major with a mark in the goalsquare.

A very unlike Peel setup cost the Thunder a goal in the opening minute of the term which ended up being a bad omen for the rest of the term with Claremont putting the foot down. In just 50 seconds of action, the Tigers raced the ball down on the overlap and found Mhicca Carter all alone in the pocket and the talented goalsneak literally did stroll into an open goal. Peel’s only score of the term came off a Kira Phillips behind, whom did well one-on-one, then sidestepped her opponent, feigning a handball to put it on the boot but it missed to the left. The ball then went up the other end with Brooke Whyte taking a strong mark off a drilling Amber Goodwin-Wissink ball. Whyte turned around and headed for a vacant goalsquare with Mikayla Western heading back, but the ball bounced perfectly through the middle for another one.

Peel could not buy a goal as the usually-reliable Phillips missed a set shot from straight in front as it fell short, and instead, Claremont produced a seven-point play. Doumanis missed to the side for a shot on goal at the 12-minute mark and then captain Ella Smith intercepted off the kick-in to find the loose Goodwin-Wissink all alone 15m out from goal. Despite making the goal umpire work, she put it through the middle and despite having relatively similar inside 50s, it was Claremont that booted the only three goals of the quarter and headed into half-time with a 15-point advantage.

After a quiet quarter by her standards in the second term, it did not take Roberts long to weave some more magic. Just as the Thunder needed someone to stand up, Roberts produced a fantastic pickup and hit Bartlett inside 50 who turned around and never looked like missing. The Thunder did the majority of the attacking as they had seven shots on goal with Roberts almost setting up another to Tajah Griffiths, and Bartlett missing a shot from a tight angle she would normally gobble up. Claremont made them pay, by kicking a goal with its first deep inside 50, as Goodwin-Wissink got ball to boot off the left and dribbled it home for second. A late 50m penalty to Phillips saw her have a shot that would normally result in the pen going down, but she missed again. Moments later however she was on the receiving end of a pass inside 50, quickly turned her body and slotted it home to cut the final break deficit back to six points.

Again the game was in Peel’s forward half for the early moments, but the delivery going forward was not ideal as the defenders such as Rachel Ortlepp and Kate Orme were picking everything off. Up the other end, Goodwin-Wissink had the chance to put a nail in the coffin after some great Carter magic, but missed her set shot. Not long after, Whyte did just that, capping off a fantastic game with a set shot from 30m out slamming home, rewarding her big contested mark against three opponents, reading the ball better in flight than anyone else. The margin was out to 14 points and the game looked done and dusted.

The Thunder refused to throw in the towel though, as repeat entries kept pressure on the home side. Orme saved a certain goal right on the line at the 11-minute mark, but the Claremont defence – and midfield when it got out of the Peel forward 50 – was able to keep chewing time off the clock. Nel Baxter knew time was of the essence however, and quickly played on from a free kick with two minutes on the clock and slotted one on the run for a single straight kick. Unfortunately a crucial 50m penalty against Gracie Fenton for assuming the Thunder had the free kick handed Valentini a shot on goal, and whilst it fell short, Smith marked and delivered to Orme who kicked a behind just prior to the final siren.

In her 50th game, Chloe Wrigley was outstanding behind the talents of Roberts, with Fenton and defender Cassie Davidson also impressing. For the Tigers, McDonald was outstanding on the last line teaming well with Ortlepp, whilst Jess Low was influential throughout the game, particularly in the first half, and Whyte had some strong plays around the ground.

CLAREMONT 1.1 | 4.2 | 5.2 | 6.4 (40)
PEEL THUNDER 1.4 | 1.5 | 3.8 | 4.9 (33)

GOALS: 

Claremont: A. Goodwin-Wissink 2, B. Whyte 2, T. Doumanis, M. Carter.
Peel: E. Roberts, K. Bartlett, N. Baxter, K. Phillips

BEST: 

Claremont: S. McDonald, J. Low, M. Scanlon, R. Ortlepp, B. Whyte
Peel: E. Roberts, C. Wrigley, G. Fenton, C. Davidson, A. Barnden

In other results, Swan Districts predictably ended South Fremantle’s season with a big win. The minor premiers bounced back from their first loss of the season to the Thunder last week with a 63-point thumping of the league’s wooden spooners, 11.9 (75) to 2.0 (12). Four players kicked two goals in the game for the winners, including bottom-age talent Tara Stribley, as Nyra Anderson and Kloe Taylor were named among the best. Melissa Silcock and Lauren Wakfer kicked majors for the Bulldogs. Meanwhile Subiaco kept East Fremantle at arms-length throughout their contest to get up 12 points and head into the do-or-die final with Claremont following a 7.6 (48) to 5.6 (36) victory. Amy Hunt and Philipa Seth both booted multiple goals for their respective teams, as Abbey Dowrick and Marni Alston were named best-on.

 

Picture credit: Tony Lendrum Photography

WAFLW preview – Round 15: Final round takes place

AFTER an interrupted 2020 season, the West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s competition had a relatively unscathed year, with only a round missed and previously a brief lockdown in preseason stopping them from having a complete run at it. Now the teams are suiting up for the final regular season round, with the four finalists decided, but plenty still on the line in terms of pride as well as a mental advantage heading into finals.

The match of the round is two finalists up against each other with second placed Peel Thunder travelling to third placed Claremont in what could be a preview of a finals head-to-head at some point. The Tigers are coming off a one-point loss to Subiaco, whilst the Thunder became the first team to topple Swan Districts this year last weekend. Despite the different form lines from the penultimate round, expect this clash to go down to the wire.

Both Katherine Bennett and Emily Bennett are among those unavailable from the Claremont lineup, as Sophie McDonald and Kate Orme return to provide some extra experience. For the Thunder, Sabreena Duffy is out of the game with Demi Liddle, whilst an extended bench comes in, which includes the likes of Hannah Church and Tajah Griffiths. With plenty of great head-to-heads across the field, it will be fantastic to see just how the match goes down.

Tessa Doumanis and Amy Franklin starred up forward for the Tigers booting two goals each for Claremont’s entire goals haul, and will have to be tightly watched this week. The Thunder defence which includes the likes of Beth Schilling, Ebony Dowson and Cassie Davidson is remarkably hard to score against, and the forward line of Ella Roberts, Kate Bartlett and Kira Phillips is even more potent. Claremont has an equally reliable defence thanks to McDonald, Sarah Garstone and Rachel Ortlepp back there. Through the middle, the head-to-head of Mikayla Western and Sarah Verrier could be huge, with Orme taking on Western Australia’s Under 19s co-captain Jaide Britton on the other wing.

The sole Saturday game sees fourth placed Subiaco and fifth placed East Fremantle do battle, but because Subiaco toppled Claremont last week, the result is effectively a dead rubber in terms of finals calculations. Roxy Roux and Gabby Radojkovich are crucial inclusions for the Sharks, as the Lions are keeping everyone guessing with an extended bench that features Taylisha Brown and Dahna Lee among others. Roux has been named in the centre against Tarnica Golisano which is a massive battle, whilst the Sharks’ forward line of Rosie Walsh, Alex Wiliams, Chloe Reilly, Madeline Ross and Radojkovich is a dangerous one. The Sharks have an incredibly strong midfield in Lara Filocamo, Tiah Toth, Maggie MacLachlan and Golisano in what should make for a fascinating close battle.

The final match of the round features a top-against-bottom clash, with the minor premiers Swan Districts coming off its first loss of the season to Peel Thunder, whilst South Fremantle is yet to taste victory in two seasons. The Swans will be without the likes of Mikayla Hyde, Steph Cain, Mel Hardy, Bianca Webb and Emma Nanut for the clash, with Naomi Baker, Tara Stribley and Nyra Anderson among the young talents coming into the Swans’ outfit. South Fremantle has named an extended bench with Kiara Templeman, Nikita Hart, Nikita Little and Melissa Silcock on it.

The Swans do not have a weakness across the ground and expect the midfield of Jess Cox, Dana East and Brianna Hyde to take control, with Sarah Lakay rucking. A huge battle between Lakay and next year’s draftable talent Lauren Wakfer could be huge around the stoppages, with Wakfer and fellow ruck Mim Strom named up forward with other young talents, Makaela Tuhakaraina and Ashleigh Little. Jaime Henry is fresh off an impressive Under 17s couple of clashes with the State Academy, and joins Emily McGuire and Aimee Ralph in that reliable back five.

Picture credit: WAFL

Fast learning Lakay takes her game to new heights

AMONG the many code-jumping athletes gunning for the height of women’s football is Swan Districts ruck Sarah Lakay, one of Western Australia’s 15 National Combine invitees in 2021. The 186cm prospect has taken to Australian football with aplomb since crossing from basketball, rising from a local club which “lost every game”, to becoming a key part of her state’s Under 19 championships squad.

“My friend invited me to go down and play down at my local footy club,” Lakay recounted. “It was me in the ruck, my friend who was a rover, and my little sister. “It was a small footy club at the time, we lost every game but I loved it, I fell in love with it instantly… from there I’ve only played club level footy up until this year. “This year I decided to try get into the state team and here I am.”

There has been plenty of learning along the way for Lakay, who has adapted on the job against quality opposition. Having cracked the senior WAFLW grade, her first assignment at the Under 19 carnival was to go head-to-head with South Australian ruck, Zoe Prowse, arguably the best pure ruck in this year’s draft pool.

“Playing [South Australia] was awesome,” Lakay said. “It was a good wake-up call for me because obviously the other ruck was really good, so that challenged me and I was like ‘okay, these are some things I need to work on’. She contested with me really well.

“I had to work on my fitness, getting around the ball and I think I definitely improved on that [in the next] game. “I think in terms of ruckwork I need to work on going up and using my knee as well. “Obviously coming from a basketball point of view I’m used to jumping straight up and not really using my knee to get up and propel myself to get up to the ruck taps.”

The hands-on learning curve has not only helped Lakay identify areas of growth, but also what her key strengths are. She humbly put down her “mind-blowing” selection in this year’s state team to a “significant advantage” in height, but Lakay’s athleticism and contested marking ability have her pegged as a versatile tall talent.

“My height and my overhead grabs [are key strengths],” she said. “I can take a few good marks overhead, and I think that my ruck work is actually really good – being able to tap it directly to people and getting over people with my jump and reach to get it down to the rovers.”

With two AFL Women’s teams in her home state, there are plenty of current top level players to look up to. There are arguably few better for a young key position player to idolise than Fremantle’s Mim Strom.

“I’ve been watching the football more recently, especially AFLW football and Mim Strom is a definite standout,” Lakay said. “She’s in the position where she wasn’t first pick, but she’s just worked really hard to be where she is now and she’s doing amazing now, so I look up to her a lot.”

As far as her own journey and goals, the 18-year-old simply wants to become “the best player [she] can be.”

“Let’s see how far that takes me,” she said. “I definitely want to play AFLW and if that is what I accomplish, that’ll be so awesome.”

2021 West Australian Under 19 squad announced

THE 2021 West Australian Under 19 squad was announced on Wednesday, with 33 players making the cut to represent their state at the upcoming National Championships. Selected to compete in games against South Australia (July 31) and the Allies (August 7), the squad features players ranging from their 19th year, to a gun 16-year-old who is also among the state’s Under 17 set-up.

The Black Ducks promise to be competitive at this year’s carnival, boasting a strong core of versatile key position prospects and dynamic midfield mix. AFL Academy members Rhett Bazzo (Swan Districts), Jacob van Rooyen (Claremont), and Jack Williams (East Fremantle) are among the best talls available in this year’s draft crop, while Subiaco pair Matthew Johnson and Neil Erasmus are set to wax in midfield having also represented the national Under 19 Academy.

Fans of AFL clubs will also have specific players to keep an eye on, with father-son and Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospects littered through the side. Exciting small forward/midfielder Jesse Motlop (son of Daniel) comes under Fremantle’s academy umbrella, while explosive East Perth mover Ethan Regan is one for Eagles. Melbourne also has a father-son in the mix, with Taj Woewodin (son of Shane) a promising midfield option.

East Fremantle produced the most members (eight) this time around, as the WAFL club continues to prove a strong breeding ground for draft eligible talent. East Perth is the next best with six players involved, including Regan and leading Colts goalkicker Jye Amiss (25 goals). There is plenty of competition for spots up forward, with swingman Bazzo likely to revert to a defensive post along with versatile 19-year-old Jaiden Hunter (Perth).

Hunter is one of a few top-agers to have earned League berths in 2021 after being overlooked at last year’s draft, with Perth teammate Jack Avery in that same boat, alongside midfielder-turned-defender Finn Gorringe (East Fremantle) and ruckman Jake South (Subiaco). Meanwhile, 18th-year talents van Rooyen and Johnson also broke through for their senior debuts before returning to the Colts grade.

After hitouts against South Australia and the Allies, WA is scheduled to take on Vic Country and Vic Metro in Victoria on September 24 and 29, to round out the National Championships.

Below is a preview of how the West Australian team may look, in a line-up put together by Draft Central analyst Ed Pascoe. Scroll further to see the full squad.

FB: Jack Avery (P) – Rhett Bazzo (SD) – Finn Gorringe (EF)
HB: Jed Hagan (EF) – Jaiden Hunter (P) – Judd McVee (EF)
C: Corey Warner (EF) – Matthew Johnson (S) – Max Chipper (SD)
HF: Ethan Regan (EP) – Jacob van Rooyen (C) – Neil Erasmus (S)
FF: Jye Amiss (EP) – Jack Williams (EF) – Jesse Motlop (SF)
FOL: Jake South (S) – Josh Browne (EF) – Kade Dittmar (EP)

INT: Zac Fleiner (WP), Kaden Harbour (EP), Brady Hough (PT), Lochlan Paton (WP), Luke Polson (PT), James Tunstill (EP)

EMG: Oscar Armstrong (EP), Eric Benning (C), Ed Curley (EF), Richard Farmer (S), Jarrod McIlvinney (PT), Angus Sheldrick (C), Jahmal Stretch (C), Bryce Watson (SD), Taj Woewodin (EF)

FULL SQUAD:

Image Credit: Daniel Pockett/AFL Photos

WAFLW wrap – Round 14: Subiaco claims last finals spot with one-point win over Claremont

SUBIACO has secured the last finals spot in the 2021 West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s, after coming from behind to down third placed Claremont in a nail-biting one-point contest. The Lions booted the opening goal of the game, but then conceded the next three, trailing by 14 points at half-time. They kicked three of the final four goals however to run over the top of the higher ranked opponents and maintain a two-game and percentage gap on fifth placed East Fremantle with only one game remaining.

In what was billed as a tight contest by two likely finals combatants, it lived up to expectations, with a goal in the opening two minutes going the way of the visitors. Tiah Toth hit-up Kia Buckley straight in front of goal for the youngster to convert and hand her side the early lead. Claremont took control after that though, with plenty of forward entries and capitalising in front of the big sticks.

The dominant duo of Tessa Doumanis and Amy Franklin were having it on a string once inside there, with Doumanis almost kicking one on the run – though it bounced into the post – then handing one off to Franklin who took a bounce and nailed it in style. Doumanis then took her chance by sidestepping an opponent to get back on her trusty left foot and put one home, before Franklin kicked a third, beating two opponents in marking contest, getting it to ground and keeping her feel to slam it home. Up the other end, McKenzie Dowrick had a set shot in the final 90 seconds but missed, to make it a straight two-goal ball game.

Both defences held up well in the second term and neither side could really take control. Emily Bennett and Jess Low were among those standing out in the game, and Claremont captain Ella Smith rued an open goal chance that came off the side of the boot. The Tigers kept attacking in the final few minutes, but the Subiaco defence was outstanding, as Claire Ortlepp held her own.

Subiaco made its move in the third term with a couple of goals to cut the deficit to just one point at the final break, with an end-to-end play 10 minutes into the term through Holly Hyder to McKenzie Dowrick and then Madi Wilkens running into an open goalsquare. Amy Hunt put one through after a great mark off a well-weight Liana Burchell kick inside 50, as Hunt played on to just get the distance with the open square. Both sides had some chances, but the quarter mostly belonged to the Lions, as Smith’s early set shot fell short, and the Tigers were held scoreless for the term.

It set up an exciting fourth quarter which lived up to expectations, as Doumanis steadied the ship for Claremont’s first since the opening term in the opening couple of minutes. With the lead out to seven points, the Tigers were able to kill time off the clock thanks to the reliable Bennett and the defence, while Emily Elkington and Sarah Garstone were also having strong impacts across the ground. Buckley was lively for the Lions, as her attack on the contest was particularly noticeable. In fact, she was the one who got the ball to Hyder who had a shot from an almost-identical spot to Franklin in the first term, but the ball sat up on the line and was rushed through to make it a straight kick.

With the time ticking down and just over five minutes left, Dowrick took a terrific contested pack grab and made no mistake from 40m out to level the scores. Claremont was now under pressure as Subiaco was coming hard, with Low and Mikayla Western both trying their best to get it forward. Up the other end, Jamie Rust laid a massive tackle to keep it up the forward end, then Bennett won a two-on-one to lock it inside defensive 50 without a goal out the back. A quick kick from Dowrick for a behind put the Lions up by a point, and holding the lead for the first time since early in the game.

With four minutes on the clock, both sides were desperate in their attack on the footy, as Claremont had some chances in the final couple of minutes. Garstone pushed up to keep the pressure on, Western tried to dance around an opponent but was dragged down, and eventually the Subiaco defence won out, got it down to open space, and a Dowrick tackle on the attacking side of the centre square held the ball up for a turnover and the final kick to be sent inside the Lions’ forward 50 as the siren sounded for a memorable 4.4 (28) to 4.3 (27) win.

CLAREMONT 3.1 | 3.3 | 3.3 | 4.3 (27)
SUBIACO 1.1 | 1.1 | 3.2 | 4.4 (28)
 

GOALS:

Claremont: T. Doumanis 2, A. Franklin 2.
Subiaco: K. Buckley, M. Wilkins, A. Hunt, M. Dowrick.

DC BEST: 

Claremont: E. Bennett, J. Low, T. Doumanis, E. Elkington, S. Garstone
Subiaco: K. Buckley,  T. Toth, M. Dowrick, H. Hyder, J. Ritchie

In the other WAFL Women’s results, Peel Thunder handed Swan Districts their first loss with a comprehensive 21-point win at David Grays Arena, whilst East Fremantle easily accounted for the winless South Fremantle by 70 points in a bottom two clash.

In the top-of-the-table clash, Peel kept Swan Districts to one behind in the second half whilst extending their half-time lead of seven points to 21 with 2.3 themselves. Kate Bartlett continued her awesome season with a couple of majors, as Kaitlyn Hayes, Cassie Davidson and Sabreena Duffy were all named in Peel’s best. Sarah Wielstra kicked a goal and was named the Swans’ best, as Kloe Taylor (one goal), and Eliza Gelmi were also among the losing side’s top players.

There was never any chance for the Bulldogs in their clash as the Sharks put the foot down from the opening bounce, piling on six goals straight to nothing in the opening term to effectively win the game by quarter time. They kept the foot down over the next two terms to lead by 72 points at the final break, but a spirited final term from the visitors – kicking 1.3 to 1.1 helped them cut the deficit to 70.

The Sharks had five multiple goalkickers, with Rosie Walsh and Chloe Riley among those players, while Kahra Sprylan and Gabby O’Sullivan also slotted two apiece and were named among the best with Philipa Seth. For the Bulldogs, bottom-age ruck Lauren Wakfer was a standout, as Liusaidh Gilchrist (one goal) and Ebony Clarkson were also impressive.

In the final round of the season, Subiaco hosts East Fremantle on Saturday, before Claremont and Peel Thunder go head-to-head on Sunday, followed by a top-against-bottom clash between Swan Districts and South Fremantle.

 

Picture credit: via WAFL

Ones to Watch: AFLW Draft eligible surprise packets

EVERY year players produce some out-of-the-box games, but occasionally, those performances stick and become the new norm, helping certain talents put their best foot forward towards the AFL Women’s Draft. In this special edition, we have highlighted 10 players to keep an eye on after piecing together some impressive 2021 seasons.

Tahlita Buethke (South Adelaide/South Australia)
23/01/2002 | 167cm
Balanced Midfielder

Only managing the three games last year in her 18th year, Buethke became a regular fixture in the South Adelaide squad, to not miss a game when she was available – outside state representation – and really have more of an influence on games. For the first half of the SANFL Women’s season, Buethke might have had a quiet first half, then exploded, but once she returned from the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships, Buethke went from a wing position onball and had 17 clearances in four weeks to show she was more than capable of standing up in any midfield role. Her burst of speed and athleticism as a whole are among the best in the draft crop, and she is building her consistency more with each game.

Tess Craven (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
23/12/2003 | 163cm
Inside Midfielder

The inside midfielder produced a remarkably consistent season in 2021, averaging more than 21 disposals, as well as four marks and four tackles per game for the Geelong Falcons in the NAB League Girls. She won the club best and fairest, and was a standout performer for Vic Country as well, consistently cracking in on the inside and clearing the ball from danger. One of the top inside midfielders in the draft crop this year, Craven certainly shot up this year having averaged the seven touches from two games in the limited 2020 season, but showed with her ball use and decision making, that she can have a real impact on the game in the forward half.

Dana East (Swan Districts/Western Australia)
10/06/2002 | 167cm
Inside Midfielder

Another inside midfielder but this time as a top-age (almost) 19-year-old, East has come on in leaps and bounds in 2021 with her slick hands and contested ball-winning abilities. East was previously playing local football in Western Australia, but since stepping up to the WAFL Women’s and developing rapidly within the State Academy, the talented midfielder has been one of the most consistent players in the competition. Not only does she extract the ball well from the stoppages, but she can go forward and hit the scoreboard, often able to grab the ball at full speed and have the composure to execute by hand or foot quickly which makes her so damaging.

Abby Hewett (Wilston Grange/Queensland)
12/04/2003 | 162cm
Midfielder/Forward

Unfortunately due to various lockdowns and COVID-19 scares, Queensland players have not been able to play as much representative football against the states as they would have liked, but one draft-eligible player who has impressed in the recent weeks has been Wilston Grange’s Hewett. The small, tough midfielder was fierce against Vic Country, clearly one of the standouts and racking up eight clearances, eight tackles and 16 disposals to be the premier clearance player on the day. What stands out with Hewett is her versatility, given that in the Queensland side’s win over Coorparoo, she played predominantly forward and showed great goal sense and footy nous to kick a couple of goals and then work hard up the ground at different times.

Ella Maurer (Tasmania Devils/Allies)
01/02/2002 | 169cm
Balanced Midfielder

In terms of boosting numbers, Maurer is one of a number of players symbolic of their team’s rise, standing up to put together a really consistent season in conjunction with the Devils’ rise to the finals. Only averaging the five touches and three tackles last year, the now 19-year-old became a household ball-winner in the NAB League Girls competition, picking up 16.8 disposals and laying 4.8 tackles, as well as more than two inside 50s, and one rebound 50 per game. She then went to the Under 19s Championships where she was again one of the more impressive midfielders, and has already gained two games experience in North Melbourne’s VFL Women’s team, not looking out of place against senior opponents. A ray of consistency in 2021 and has not put a foot wrong this year.

Keeley Sherar (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
29/10/2003 | 170cm
Balanced Midfielder

There were plenty of players who came on incredibly well in 2021 compared to their 2020 seasons, and after only managing the one game for Eastern last year, Sherar really stepped up and became a huge feature for the Ranges midfield. She averaged the 14.8 disposals, 2.2 marks and 4.8 tackles this year, and just made things happen with ball-in-hand. A creative forward half player who was best suited to winning the ball at the contest and putting it inside 50 – something she did an average of 3.4 times a game – Sherar was trusted with ball-in-hand and set up scoring opportunities for her teammates. In a side with plenty of consistent performers, Sherar certainly did her draft chances no harm with a call-up to Vic Metro and not missing a beat in the NAB League.

Aurora Smith (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)
13/12/2003 | 165cm
Wing

Very similar to Craven but from an outside sense, Smith was arguably the most dominant wing in the NAB League Girls competition. A ray of consistency all season even early on when the Bushrangers were struggling, Smith averaged just under 21 disposals, and more than three tackles and three marks per game. Her best work was in her metres gained though, winning the ball on the outside and bursting away with her athleticism to go inside 50 four times a game. At the AFLW Under 19 Championships, Smith spent some time on the inside to add that string to her bow, but expect the wing to be a player who catches the eye of a number of clubs given her 2021 season compiled bigger numbers than her previous two put together. A huge rise and outstanding talent.

Brooke Tonon (Glenelg/South Australia)
19/09/2003 | 166cm
Defender/Midfielder

After playing forward and back in patches last year, the 17-year-old Tonon really stepped up in her second season at SANFL Women’s level. Having come through the State Academy program and been a leader at Under 16s level, the Glenelg youngster really put together an outstanding year and show what she has to offer. Playing in a team that reached the grand final this weekend, Tonon held her spot every week she did not have state representation, and averaged the 14.8 disposals 2.5 marks, 3.2 tackles and 2.5 rebound 50s, kicking at a high-level 76 per cent efficiency. More impressively was the consistency not to drop below double-digit disposals, and it earned her a place in the Team of the Year.

Makaela Tuhakaraina (South Fremantle/Western Australia)
23/08/2003 | 158cm
Utility

A really raw player coming from a rugby background, South Fremantle’s Tuhakaraina is the definition of eye-catching. Possessing elite speed and agility, the talented utility who can play through the midfield but can slot in anywhere including forward, Tuhakaraina is hard to stop when she gets going. A powerful athlete who is still building other areas of her game, she has the tools that clubs can work around and with the development she has already made, it one to keep an eye on. The fact she is sub-160cm will not matter considering her athletic traits and ability to get out of trouble by gaining separation on her opponents.

Brooke Vickers (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
06/03/2003 | 171cm
Defender/Wing

Playing in the premiership team, Vickers did a really impressive job of still catching the eye amongst a host of other talented players. Whilst she was often stationed at half-back and then pushed up to a wing at times, Vickers was able to use the ball well coming off half-back and remain balanced and composed with ball-in-hand to deliver the ball inside 50. After averaging the eight disposals in her bottom-age year from the two available games – also big wins – Vickers stepped up to average the 13.5 disposals, and around two inside 50s and rebound 50s, as well as 3.3 tackles. She was a consistent feature for the Chargers, and while some others might have racked up bigger numbers, Vickers was a reliable player to produce transitional running.

Swan Districts survive massive Subiaco scare

SWAN Districts have remained undefeated by the slimmest of margins in the West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s competition, with their 12th win of the season coming by just one point, as Subiaco fell just short of an upset. In a low-scoring affair, the ladder-leading Swan Districts looked in serious danger of dropping their winning streak, as Subiaco pushed the ball into their forward line countless times. It took a desperate tackle from Aimee Ralph at centre half-back to seal the result and break the hearts of Subiaco coaches, fans and players.

The first term opened in exciting fashion, with teams exchanging goals in the opening minutes of the game. Swan Districts’ Bianca Webb snapped a magnificent goal to open the scoring for the match, but it was soon answered through Subiaco’s Hayley Corlett who kicked a composed goal despite pressure from opposition defenders. The contest was scrappy, with Subiaco not backing down from the league powerhouse, and matching them in every contest. There were big hits, brilliant tackles and gutsy marks as the sides entered the first break separated by just one point. The scoring continued into the second quarter as each team went back and forth with their scoring. An Abbygail Bushby goal put Swan Districts up, but Subiaco responded almost immediately through Holly Hyder. Subiaco even gained the lead through a brilliant Kia Buckley goal, as she burst through two tackles to kick a fantastic snag to put her side in front. This wouldn’t last as Emma Nanut kicked her first goal of the day to regain the lead for Swan Districts. These would be the last goals scored for the day, as the rain appeared and suddenly it became a territory battle.

The second half was a scrappy contest, with neither side gaining a significant advantage. It was all about gaining ground, and while either side had ample opportunity to hit the scoreboard, these were ultimately squandered. It was a one-point game right up to the very end of the game. Subiaco made one final push forward, but Swan Districts’ defence proved too strong, and they claimed the win soon after.

For Swan Districts, Webb was damaging all day, popping up all over the ground to produce significant impact for her side. Her opening goal was crucial in kickstarting Swan Districts’ day, and she continued to put pressure on all day, hassling opponents into making vital mistakes. She was well-assisted by midfielder Dana East who continued her strong season with another impressive outing. For Subiaco, forward Holly Hyder was fantastic, fighting tooth and nail for the ball whenever she could and constantly providing an option for teammates.

Swan Districts will attempt to keep their undefeated season rolling as they take on East Fremantle at Steel Blue Oval on Saturday, while Subiaco will host Peel Thunder on Saturday evening.

Around the grounds, Peel Thunder proved too strong for South Fremantle, claiming a 24-point triumph at David Grays Arena on Saturday evening. Both sides were hurt by inaccuracy, and Peel Thunder were just too powerful for too long. For the victors, Kira Phillips was once again dangerous up forward, booting three goals, while teammate Sabreena Duffy impressed. For South Fremantle, Tahlia Holtze fought hard all day in tough conditions.

Moving to New Choice Homes Park, East Fremantle have kept themselves in the finals hunt with a 21-point upset over Claremont on Sunday afternoon. East Fremantle dominated all day, as Claremont struggled to keep up, and fell well short of a comeback. For the winning side, Emily Burton was the star, dragging her side to a strong win, while Jessica Low was Claremont’s best on a difficult day.

Picture credit: Swan Districts Women’s Football Facebook