Tag: chloe reilly

WAFLW Round 2 wrap: Swan Districts dynamic forwards run away with 53-point victory

SWAN Districts have reminded the rest of the West Australian Football League Women’s (WAFLW) competition just how dangerous their forward line can be, putting together a complete performance during a 53-point victory over South Fremantle. The Bulldogs showed last week they were a much-improved team on their wooden spoon efforts of 2020, but despite their defence holding up throughout the first half, eventually were overwhelmed by the amount of inside 50s.

From the get-go it was clear the Bulldogs were up for the challenge, though the game was going to be played on Swan Districts’ terms. Mikayla Hyde needed only a couple of minutes before she snapped through a major returning to the team after playing for Fremantle in the AFL Women’s. Her clever goal got the team going, though the next would not come until the final minute of the term. The amount of inside 50s for the Swans was enormous, and full credit to the South Fremantle defence for holding up, but eventually some Nyra Anderson broke the drought, winning a loose ball in the pocket, then with some help and a one-two, received the ball and put through a major.

Pia Durk and Ella Higgins were doing what they could for the underdogs, but the midfield of Swan Districts was overwhelming. Jess Cox was dominating in the air and at ground level one-on-one, Tara Stribley was providing the touch of outside class, and Dana East roaming up from half-forward was being that link in transition. Despite their dominance – and an early goal to Bella Edgley in the opening few minutes – Swan Districts only led by 22 points at half-time.

That was soon going to change in the second half, though it did not look like it at first, as the Bulldogs were keeping the ball more in midfield than in defensive 50 for a change to the first two quarters. Once it went deep inside 50 though, the Swans were just too good. East kicked back-to-back goals to drive the nail into the coffin of the Bulldogs and lead by a game-high 37 points and a blowout was threatening. Luckily for South, the Bulldogs would not go scoreless as a terrific play in the final 90 seconds from Ashleigh Reidy to Aaliyah Ugle and into Lauren Vecchio resulted in a running goal.

It was reward for effort after holding up so well defensively in the first half. Unfortunately for the home team, that would be about it as Swan Districts really stepped up the pressure in the final term to run rampant. A number of chances went begging early for the visitors, before Anderson kicked her second eight minutes into the quarter. It triggered something special from Edgley who somehow managed to dribble a goal under pressure from deep in the pocket. With 90 seconds left in the match, Anderson led out strongly off a perfectly weighted Stribley pass, went back and slotted the goal for a memorable 53-point win, 8.11 (59) to 1.0 (6).

East was named best on ground by the Swans coaches, while defender Aimee Ralph, Cox, ruck/forward Sarah Wielstra and Edgley were also named among the bests for their efforts. Durk and Higgins were standouts in a losing side, while Reidy, Makayla Cocking and Casey Byrne were also named in the best for South Fremantle.

In the later Sunday game, Claremont held off South Fremantle by keeping them goalless for 67 of the 72 minutes of their Round 2 clash. Both the Tigers and Sharks are well suited to low-scoring hard football, and that was exactly what the game presented fans with. Sara Lewis – who would later be sidelined for the game due to injury in the second half – kicked the opening major of the game five minutes into the first quarter. Despite having their chances throughout the game, the Sharks would only scored three behinds for the game, as Claremont would boot 2.5 over the next two quarters.

Chloe Reilly‘s work in defence was outstanding, particularly in the first half when the Tigers were rallying to hit back, but could not seemingly score. Sharks captain Ashleigh Gomes set the tone for her team with a run-down tackle on Sarah Garstone early in the second quarter, but Garstone would get one back by hitting a leading Amy Franklin inside 50 who found Jacinta Valentini 30m out. Valentini made no mistake with a slight angle, slotting the goal and handing her side the lead with a few minutes left in the half.

The second half was a real arm-wrestle with Rachel Ortlepp being a rock in the back 50 throughout the match, and Ella Smith was picking up the pieces for the Tigers in midfield. The East Fremantle defence – led by Alex Williams and Kim Boulton – was unflappable. The issue for the visitors was scoring, which they could not seem to come up with a solution for despite their best efforts. Instead, a Sasha Goranova snap in the final 20 seconds of the quarter gave the Tigers a little breathing space, and it ended up being enough in the 2.5 (17) to 1.3 (9) victory.

Ortlepp was an impressive player in the Claremont defence, while Andie Payne, Brooke Whyte and Queensland import, Amy Fortescue also caught the coach’s eye during the team’s win. For the Sharks, Ann McMahon, Sharon Wong and Brianna Green were named amongst the best in the loss.

The other match saw Peel Thunder flex their muscles with another big win, defeating Subiaco by 44 points in a grand final rematch. After four consecutive losses to the Lions in the WAFLW, the Thunder have won their last two matchups, and it was partners-in-crime Kate Bartlett and Ella Roberts up to mischief inside 50.

The pair slotted seven goals between them as their athleticism, goal sense and overall forward craft was overwhelming for the home side, as Bartlett booted 4.2, and Roberts managed 3.0. Bailey Molloy could have joined them with a big haul, but slotted the 1.4, while youngster Aisha Wright kicked an important goal, as did Greta McKinley. For the Lions, they had four individual goalkickers in Amy Hunt, Kia Buckley, Tarnica Golisano and Courtney Guard.

Cassie Davidson led from the front with her Peel side, while Abby Barnden and Ebony Bilcich also impressed the coaches, and Courtney Rowley‘s outside run, and Bartlett’s scoreboard impact earned nominations in the bests.

A blockbuster match between the top two unbeaten sides in Peel Thunder and Swan Districts is the must-watch match of Round 3, while Claremont and Subiaco hope to improve their 1-1 records when they go up against respective winless opponents, South Fremantle and East Fremantle.

Picture credit: Tony Lendrum Photography

2021 WAFL Women’s Round 2 preview: Grand Final rematch opens action

ROUND 2 of the West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s competition kicks off with a Saturday night and early Sunday morning fixture to help with the heat, as a number of young guns aim to state their claims against experienced opposition.

SUBIACO vs. PEEL THUNDER
Saturday, February 27 @ 6pm
Leederville Oval

A grand final rematch kicks off Round 2 of the WAFL Women’s, with reigning premiers Peel Thunder unfurling their flag last week, then grabbing their first points of 2021 with an impressive win over East Fremantle. Now they come up against a Subiaco side looking to also go 2-0 after surviving a late fightback from South Fremantle in the last quarter of their Round 1 encounter.

Ella Roberts picked up where she left off in 2020 last week, booting two first half goals before being locked down by the Sharks in the second half. Subiaco knows just how dangerous she can be, so expect another tough day for the teenager who will learn to deal with extra attention. Fellow young gun Courtney Rowley showed good signs in Round 1 and will look to build on that for Round 2, providing a crucial run-and-carry on the outside. Beth Schilling provided a target up forward for the Thunder in Round 1, and throw in Jade Briggs and Kate Bartlett, and the Thunder have heaps of X-factor inside 50. Tanisha Anderson and Jaide Britton are another couple of talents to watch out for, with Britton named as co-captain for Western Australia ahead of the Under 19 Championships.

Despite the Thunder getting up in the grand final last year, Subiaco had won all of the previous four clashes against the Thunder, and will be hoping to restore that back in this game. They have some young talent of their own with Claire Ortlepp off half-back and Jamie Rust up forward. Captain Tarnica Golisano will also give a four-quarter effort, whilst Fremantle AFL Women’s injury replacement player Maggie MacLachlan has been named for the game. Similarly, Kia Buckley and Abbey Dowrick have both been named on the bench with the hope they can return to the side.

Both these sides have some terrific young talent, as well as some crucial state league and top-level experience, so expect it to be a terrific match, though Peel Thunder will be favourites after stamping their authority in Round 1.

 

SOUTH FREMANTLE vs. SWAN DISTRICTS
Sunday, February 28 @ 9.30am
Fremantle Community Bank Oval

Two sides that were on opposite sides of the coin in nail-biting encounters do battle in the second Round 2 clash, with South Fremantle hosting Swan Districts at Fremantle Community Bank Oval. An early 9.30am fixture provides fans with a way of avoiding an averse weather conditions like the Swans suffered through during their six-point low-scoring win over Claremont last week. The Bulldogs lost the points, but certainly lost no fans in a spirited fightback against Subiaco in the final term only to fall short.

Pia Durk in the midfield has been touted as one to watch this season for the red and whites, with Lauren Vecchio the ever-reliable leader onball. Poppy Stockwell returns to the side as a crucial forward option, while Ash Reidy and Tahlia Holtze are others for the Bulldogs who have been named at opposite ends on the flanks. South Fremantle coach Beau McCormack said in the preseason that ex-rugby player Makaela Tuhakaraina is one to keep an eye on in 2021. Zoe Huggett booted three goals in the narrow loss last week and will be a key target once again inside 50.

Swan Districts are a young side, but have plenty of upside, with Dana East and Jessica Cox among the developing talents at the black and whites. They provide the inside presence with ruck Sarah Wielstra getting better by the week as a ruck/forward, while Tara Stribley is the outside distributor needed for that touch of clash. Bella Edgley was the difference for the Swans in Round 1, with her two goals because crucial in challenging conditions, while Jamie Henry is another young talent who will play in defence with the likes of experienced backs, captain Emily McGuire, and Lauren Osborne.

Swan Districts will be favourites to continued South Fremantle’s losing streak, but the Bulldogs showed terrific signs last week and been at home, they know anything is possible with the talent they have brought into the club.

 

CLAREMONT vs. EAST FREMANTLE
Sunday, February 28 @ 1pm
Revo Fitness Stadium

The final game of the round takes place at 1pm on Sunday when two Round 1 losers face-off. Claremont went down in a narrow loss to Swan Districts last week, whilst East Fremantle was competitive early, but ultimately overwhelmed by the end against a dangerous Peel Thunder outfit. The Tigers will be hungry for more success in 2021 after just letting the game slip despite having chances, while the Sharks will need to overcome the loss of Rachel Ashley to injury which was one of the turning points in the game last week after the returning utility booted two goals from full-forward.

East Fremantle have a balance of youth and experience on the field, but are a very different-looking side to 2020. Rosie Walsh returns to the side after missing Round 1 and will look to take up a ruck role teaming up with Laura McClelland who stepped up to League football last week. Sharon Wong provided the four-quarter consistency you expect from her, while Ashleigh Gomes and Kahra Sprylan will be some of the crucial talents in adding experience to the Sharks’ lineup. Chloe Reilly has been named to start in defence again, with the forward taking on fellow West Australian Under-19 State Academy talent Amy Franklin in a huge head-to-head. With Alex Williams named in a back pocket and Sara Lewis up forward, the Sharks having marking targets at both ends.

For the Tigers, Rachel Ortlepp was a source of rebound last week, and she will go head-to-head with another young talent in Zoe Gillard. West Coast’s Sophie McDonald has been named to suit up for the Tigers this week for some crucial stability in defence, while the onball brigade of Ella Smith, Jess Low and Sasha Goranova are as hard as they come. Up forward, Franklin is always an imposing figure with her marking and athleticism, while Jacinta Valentini and Sarah Garstone also have State Academy experience. The Tigers are a well-balanced squad with Brooke Hongell showing some promising signs up forward last week and will be keen to capitalise more in this match.

Claremont seem to be set for a win after getting so close last week, but some important inclusions for the Sharks mean they will be more competitive for longer.

Picture: WAFL

Top Performers: Around the Country – WAFLW Round 1

IN the first week where multiple Under 18s competitions have run, we introduce a new article titled ‘Around the Country: Top Performers’. For this week we take a look at the West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s competition and see who impressed on the weekend, with a focus on West Australian State Academy members or Draft Combine invitees from last year.

>> NAB League Girls Top Performers from Round 3

WAFL Women’s:

With two games footage accessible, we viewed Peel Thunder’s win over East Fremantle, and Swan Districts’ victory over Claremont and noted down the top performers.

Jade Briggs (Peel Thunder)

A quick thinker with quick disposal and a lovely left foot, Briggs is a danger inside 50. She finished with two majors including a long goal that flew over the back of a pack. Her vision and placement in the match was impressive as well and is yet another Peel talented teenager.

Bella Edgley (Swan Districts)

Edgley always looked busy inside 50 with raw talent. Her first few kicks inside 50 went astray to defenders, but she was looking dangerous. Then she took a strong one-on-one mark and converted the set shot from 35m out, before dribbling home a second goal from a tight angle. Rushed a flying shot in the third term to kick it out on the full, but certainly caught attention with her X-factor.

Amy Franklin (Claremont)

Like a blank canvas, Franklin is a player with high potential and one who could go far given her attributes. She has high-level athleticism for a tall forward, and while she can clunk her marks, she is even better at ground level, as she showed in kicking the first goal of the game by bursting away and taking a few bounces to kick a major from point-blank range. A powerful kick, Franklin is not afraid to get her hands dirty, spoiling an opponent in her attacking goalsquare front on but only connecting with the ball to try and kick it off the ground but ran out of space.

Jess Low (Claremont)

One of the AFL Women’s Draft Combine invitees last year, Low has used the extra preseason to prepare for an extra season of building on her game. She had a terrific game on the weekend and was constantly involved in midfield. Low cracks in hard and puts her body on the line, and is not afraid to lay some big tackles on opponents. At times her kicks went a bit wide and missed targets, but her disposal is becoming more consistent, with a clean kick inside 50 in the fourth term to a teammate on the lead.

Emma Nanut (Swan Districts)

Plays traditionally in defence but can have an impact further up the field, Nanut won her touches in a variety of positions. She is one who assesses her options before disposing of it, she attempts inboard passes to open the game up. Nanut did well in a one-on-one close to the line in the fourth term to avoid a late goal going the way of the Tigers.

Rachel Ortlepp (Claremont)

A reliable defender already tasked with the kick-out duties, Ortlepp just mopped up her team’s messes in the back half and was consistent with her ball-use. Even though she did fumble a mark at one stage in the third term, her recovery to pick it up and give it off was crucial. A real rock, deep in defence that could also push up and provide a high line. Ortlepp also showed good penetration with her kicks.

Chloe Reilly (East Fremantle)

Did not have a huge impact on the game, but a telling moment came 13 minutes into the third term where she slid in to take a good mark just inside 50. Known for her set shot goalkicking, Reilly kicks through the ball, though the ball fell marginally short. Over the off-season Reilly has added size to her frame in order to compete even better in one-on-one contests.

Ella Roberts (Peel Thunder)

Wow, just wow. It is hard to comprehend what the talented 16-year-old is able to do at such a young age, especially given she only turned 16 in December. Her ability to read the play, sidestep more experienced opponents, clunk contested marks and slot miracle goals, she is a human highlight reel who is not eligible to be drafted until 2023, but will be worth the wait. Roberts kicked two goals in the first half and set up some more before being tagged by the opposition before she could get any more off the chain. An elite talent.

Courtney Rowley (Peel Thunder)

Just had her moments on the weekend, and while she is lightly built, is just clean and clever, able to work through traffic with minimal fuss. She had a few chances on goal in the final term but missed, though her highlight came earlier when she was being tackled but still got a handball off to a teammate which enabled them to have a shot on goal. A top prospect for 2020.

Beth Schilling (Peel Thunder)

An athletic ruck who showed some promising potential. Her competitiveness in the air with a good vertical leap was noteworthy, and her attack on the football was great. She had a couple of shots on goal that either fell short or she opted to pass, but as a raw talent she showed some good signs coming through the Thunder program.

Tara Stribley (Swan Districts)

The outside player provided some good run and carry across the ground, and is incredibly quick to put the boot to ball, A couple of times her kicks forward were picked off by the opposition half-backs, but then showed her skill later on with a lovely kick from half-back to bend around her body and hit a target as Stribley was being bumped. Possesses terrific acceleration which she loves to use.

 

Picture credit: Owen Davies / Peel Thunder

WAFL Women’s to return on February 20

THE wait for the return of the West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s competition is almost over, with the 2021 season fixture released this week and teams set to do battle from the weekend of February 20. Initially touted to start next weekend, the season was pushed back a week, with the 2021 WAFL Women’s Grand Final to be played on the weekend of July 3.

Before that though, the six teams – Claremont, East Fremantle, Peel Thunder, South Fremantle, Subiaco and Swan Districts – will face off in 15 rounds, where they will play every other team three times, and have two league-wide byes along the way. The earlier fixture allows those players from Fremantle and West Coast AFL Women’s teams to continue match fitness whilst trying to force their way back into the sides, while also enabling the entire season to wrap up prior to the 2021 AFL Women’s Draft which has been touted to be moved a couple of months earlier than its annual October date.

Round 1 kicks off with reigning premiers Peel Thunder able to unfurl the flag at David Grays Arena up against the previous premiers, East Fremantle. Runners-up Subiaco will head to play last year’s wooden spooners, South Fremantle at Fremantle Community Bank Oval, while Swan Districts hosts Claremont at Steel Blue Oval. Fans will not have to wait long for a WAFL Women’s Grand Final rematch, with the Thunder and Lions set to do battle in Round 2 on the weekend of February 27.

The two bye weekends are on April 3 and May 15, with the 2021 AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships to be played in the second week of April as well. For those interested in some young guns to watch for the upcoming season, it is hard to look past Peel Thunder jet, Courtney Rowley who has been a strong performer at the level for a number of years now. Coming into her top-age year, Rowley is touted to be the top West Australian talent, with the smooth-moving skilful outside player one who shares similar traits to St Kilda’s Georgia Patrikios.

Another player to keep an eye on is Subiaco’s Charlotte Thomas, with her ball use sublime playing off half-forward. She is so clever around goals and can hit the scoreboard, but also push up the ground and have an impact as well. Speaking of hitting the scoreboard, Amy Franklin is a 180cm key forward who can clunk grabs, but then cause sleepless nights for defenders because when the ball hits the ground she can burst away with great acceleration for a player of her height.

A number of other names to keep an eye out on include East Fremantle’s Chloe Reilly who has terrific goal sense and knows who to take marks, whilst Peel Thunder’s talent does not stop at Rowley, with Bethlyn Pasco and Beth Schilling also amongst the talent there. Swan Districts’ Emma Nanut was a reliable source of composure in the back half for the Swans last season, but is versatile just about anywhere, while South Fremantle’s Tayla Whincup and Poppy Stockwell are other names to remember throughout the 2021 WAFL Women’s season.

Some over and mature-age talent to remember include Subiaco’s Abbey Dowrick – sister of West Coast’s McKenzie – as well as Claremont’s Jess Low and East Fremantle’s Rosie Walsh, who all earned AFL Women’s Draft Combine invites last year. Swan Districts’ Nyra Anderson remains a natural ball winner, while her teammate Sarah Wielstra is an example of a player who came a long way in a short time and will be one to watch this year.

Picture credit: Owen Davies/Peel Thunder

2021 AFLW Under 18s Ones to Watch

NOW the curtain has closed on the 2020 AFL Women’s off-season period, we turn our attention to the next group of budding stars across the country who will be vying for a spot on an AFL Women’s list. We have named 25 players who have already shown some great signs in their bottom and middle-age seasons, as well as a number of others to watch out for in 2021.

Georgie Prespakis (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

A name that has been circulating for a number of years now, it is hard to believe the all-round talent was robbed of what she could potentially do in her middle-age year. She looked more than comfortable at the level in her bottom-age year as a 16-year-old and caught plenty of attention with a seven-goal haul against Greater Western Victoria Rebels. Taller than her sister – AFL Women’s league best and fairest winner Madison – Prespakis is hard at it, has great athleticism and is ridiculously strong one-on-one. A highlight-reel package nearly any time she steps out on the field, Prespakis is a future star and could play just about anywhere, but expect her to play inside midfield and rest forward.

Teagan Levi (Bond University/Queensland)

The sister of recently drafted Gold Coast Suns’ talent Maddison, Levi is 11cm shorter and plays onball rather than forward. Her athletic traits are similar to that of Georgia Patrikios in the way that she can seamlessly get herself out of trouble by wrong-footing and side-stepping opponents with ease. Not only is she able to beat them in congestion, she can run and take the game on down a wing, and then when the opponent wins it, she is the first to lay a strong tackle. Similar to Prespakis, Levi has so many weapons and is as effective defensively as she is offensively, and is the standout Queensland prospect for next year and in the clear top few talents running around.

Courtney Rowley. Picture credit: Owen Davies / Peel Thunder

Courtney Rowley (Peel Thunder/Western Australia)

A player who has been building very nicely over in Western Australia over the past two seasons and then was the most impressive of the middle-agers in the WAFL All-Stars game. A really smooth mover, Rowley often plays off a wing and knows how to distribute the ball so well, winning Peel Thunder’s League best and fairest last year as a 16-year-old competing against senior opponents including AFL Women’s talents. Whilst she had more support in 2020 as the Thunder rose from wooden spooners to premiers in a remarkable turnaround, it is hard not to admire what the talented midfielder could be in her top-age season next year.

Zoe Prowse (Sturt/South Australia)

The standout ruck prospect in next year’s draft, Adelaide will have another promising talent on their radar in Prowse. Winning Sturt’s best and fairest award this year, Prowse was just about the best in nearly every game she played for the Double Blues, particularly in the second half of the season. Despite standing at just under 180cm, Prowse has ridiculous athleticism with a high vertical leap and is almost like a fourth midfielder. She can get down and apply second and third efforts to ground level players, and is one who could also play forward if required. With great ruck nous, she can outwork her opponents around the ground, and it was easy to see why she was the sole South Australian AFL Women’s Academy member in her middle-age year.

Charlie Rowbottom (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

An absolute star in the making. Capable of playing midfield or forward, Rowbottom just knows how to set scoring opportunities up in transition. The sister of Sydney’s James, Rowbottom has similar ball-winning abilities and defensive attributes, but has a lot to offer offensively as well. She showed in the Chargers’ win over Tasmania that she is not only able to hit the scoreboard herself – kicking two goals – but set up a number of chances for her teammates. One that will really surprise in 2021 as a leader for the Chargers.

Charlie Rowbottom. Picture credit: Solstice Digital & Photography

Tara Slender (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country)

With quite a few tall defenders in this year’s AFL Women’s Draft, Slender would be putting her hand up as potentially the pick of the bunch. Her intercepting capability and reading of the ball in flight is exceptional, and while she did miss her middle-age year, Slender is one who could catch the attention pretty quickly. Having played alongside some Vic Country representatives in the past – and playing at Under 16s level for her state – Slender is good in one-on-ones and looms as a key lynchpin for the Pioneers. It would also not be too surprising to see her take a similar transition to Isabelle Pritchard and move into the midfield given she has the traits to slot right in there.

Makaylah Appleby (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)

Class personified. Appleby has managed to catch the eye on more than a few occasions over the past few seasons despite playing in such a stacked team at the Northern Knights. She often played off a wing or provided run on the outside like during the 2019 NAB League Finals Series. Appleby is now the top prospect at the Knights for the upcoming season as a member of the AFL Women’s National Academy, and as a damaging ball user, Appleby is one that teammates want to get the ball in the hands of in order to create scoring opportunities up the field.

Charlotte Thomas (Subiaco/Western Australia)

A dangerous forward half player with clean skills and a nous for goals, Thomas is the other AFL Women’s Academy member from Western Australia in her middle-age year along with Rowley and has a big future. Playing in an experienced team like Subiaco, Thomas was able to still stand out, regularly hitting the scoreboard. Standing at 175cm, Thomas has good size and good hands and having made her League debut in 2020, big things are predicted for 2021 with a lot of AFL Women’s talent, and more experienced heads around her.

Nyakoat Dojiok. Picture credit: Draft Central

Nyakoat Dojiok (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)

A player who is not afraid to take the game on and really take it to the opposition is GWV Rebels’ Dojiok who has been developing year-on-year over the last few years. Playing as a 15-year-old a few years back, Dojiok is one who when she gets going is hard to contain, and she has that rich blend of power and speed. She is utilised best as that outside runner, playing off half-back or along a wing, but is eye-catching in the way she plays and the way she can bring teammates into the game. Entering her top-age year, expect her to see even more midfield time as she has some seriously great traits.

Elizabeth Dowling (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

A player who might be flying under the radar that has some casual NAB League Girls watchers reaching for the team lists next year is Dowling. An incredible talent who showed progression in her two games this year, she has only managed to fly under the radar due to the enormous amount of talent coming out of the Falcons’ football factory. She played in defence as a bottom-ager then got time more up the field last year, and expect her to play through the midfield in 2021. She can play anywhere, at that hybrid 171cm-plus size and can be too athletic for talls and too strong for smalls, Dowling is one who should not be forgotten when talking about Vic Country prospects.

Ally Morphett (Murray Bushrangers/NSW-ACT)

The standout NSW/ACT prospect for 2021, Morphett is the sole AFL Women’s Academy member from her state. The developing 189cm-plus ruck is one who improved from her bottom-age season and it would have been fantastic to see her going up against the Melbourne-drafted Maggie Caris if their teams had met in the NAB League Girls before the season ended. She is commanding overhead and able to drift forward if required, Morphett is one of the few NAB League Girls prospects to play this year. Representing Belconnen Magpies in the AFL Canberra League, Morphett finished second in the league best and fairest, and then won best on ground in the Magpies’ premiership win. Not bad for a 17-year-old and she is one anticipated to take a huge step in 2021.

Maggie Harmer (Maroochydore/Queensland)

Stood tall at senior level in the QAFL Women’s competition for the Roos and is one of a remarkable three players in the AFL Women’s Academy from the side. Harmer showed in the Queensland All-Stars game that she looms as a strong prospect in 2021 with her overhead marking, read of the play and powerful kicking standing out in a tight game. A member of the Brisbane Lions Academy, Harmer is 170cm and could play at half-back as that intercepting rebounder, or through the middle, seemingly able to break down opposition defences on transition by getting in the way and then pumping it long.

Maggie Harmer. Picture credit: Deion Menzies, Highflyer Images

Amy Franklin (Claremont/Western Australia)

If we are talking upside, then Franklin, not too dissimilar to her West Australian namesake, has plenty of that for the future. A tall marking forward, Franklin has speed that makes smaller opponents envious, and standing at 180cm, she is big enough to outmark most opponents. Still quite raw and lightly built compared to more experienced WAFL Women’s defenders she came across, Franklin is one that once the ball gets goalside, you can almost put the glasses down. Terrific athleticism and one who is threatening to be an even bigger threat in 2021, she is yet another exciting tall forward to come out of Western Australia.

Tahlia Gillard (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

If you are talking upside and potential in next year’s AFL Women’s Draft crop then take 186cm Gillard as an example. Only turning 17 in December this year, the key position utility can play in all three lines, starting off as a key defender, spending time up forward and has the size if required to play ruck. For a player of her size, Gillard is so good at ground level and able to create something out of nothing. While she is still a raw and developing talent, she is another from the Cannons’ program who has already had plenty of NAB League Girls experience that will only make her better.

Ella Friend (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)

A second GWV Rebels player making the list, Friend did not get many chances this season to show what she is capable of, but what she did in that short space of time was quite remarkable. Another member of the AFL Women’s National Academy, Friend looked comfortable in the tight contest against the Western Jets back in Round 3, racking up a ton of the ball – 19 touches – and having a real influence in the forward half. Not only that, but she iced the game for the Rebels with a match-winning goal, and provided as much offence (six inside 50s) and defence (five tackles) to suggest she is a gamechanger and one to look out for next season.

Jorja Livingstone (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)

Made her debut in the NAB League Girls competition and just has that X-factor about her that makes you sit up and take notice. Elite acceleration out of the stoppage and some really top-end traits, Livingstone came into the Ranges’ midfield and assimilated easily that it was hard to believe she was not a top-ager. Behind the experienced Olivia Meagher and Tarni Brown, Livingstone was the next biggest performer onball, and with another preseason behind her, it will be exciting to see just what she can produce with her athletic traits and ability to get forward and look dangerous.

Emelia Yassir (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

Yassir is just a fierce competitor who can play through the midfield or as a small forward. Standing at just 161cm, Yassir defies her size and is not afraid to take on bigger opponents, laying multiple tackles and is a contested ball winner. She stood up during Calder’s NAB League Girls finals series as a bottom-ager in 2019, and started strongly in 2020. She will have a bigger role in 2021 and has a bucketload of talent that will have opposition players wary of when she is in the zone.

Mikayla Pauga (Maroochydore/Queensland)

Another small forward and member of the AFL Women’s Academy, Pauga might just stand at 161cm like Yassir, but packs plenty of punch as a damaging forward. The second Maroochydore player in this list, Pauga finished second in her club’s goalkicking with 13 majors in 14 games, and was a clear standout. With an eye for goal and a large endurance base that sees her outwork opponents, Pauga is one who could step up again in 2021 and will be one to watch at the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships having shown her wares at senior level in the QAFL Women’s already.

Zoe Venning. Picture credit: SANFL

Zoe Venning (West Adelaide/South Australia)

A hard-nosed midfielder/forward from West Adelaide, Venning came on in leaps and bounds throughout her second season in the red and black. She became a crucial member of the Bloods’ midfield, playing between wing and forward, though her attack on the ball shows she can easily translate into an inside midfielder. Providing great assistance to equal league best and fairest winner, Rachelle Martin as well as young talent Abbie Ballard, Venning is one who is dangerous around goals. She is still developing some areas of her game such as her kicking, but her work rate and intensity in play is superb.

Kasey Lennox (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

A reliable key defender for the Cannons, Lennox is a fourth member of the Calder side to make this list, and shows just how strong their top-age group will be next season. Lennox is one who is good at ground level for a taller player, being one of the most dominant rebounders in the competition to start the 2020 NAB League Girls season. As a player who stood out on the big stage of the 2019 NAB League Girls Grand Final, Lennox is not afraid of big moments, and will team up well with Gillard as a couple of talls in a really strong Cannons outfit.

Amy Prokopiec (Clarence/Tasmania)

The sole Tasmanian prospect in the AFL Women’s National Academy, Prokopiec became one of the standout defenders for Tasmania Devils, albeit in just a handful of games in her bottom and middle-age years. As she showed with Clarence in the TSL Women’s competition this year and in the Tasmanian All-Stars game, Prokopiec is capable of playing at either end, and becoming that versatile tall utility. As a long kick and strong overhead, she is a crucial cog in the both the Roos and Devils sides, and will be hoping for a full season next year to test herself against the best in the NAB League Girls.

Amy Prokopiec (right). Picture credit: Solstice Digital & Photography

Gypsy Schirmer (South Adelaide/South Australia)

There are quite a few talls in this list with potential, and Schirmer is another one who just has that look about her that she could be in for a big 2021. In her middle-age season with reigning premiers South Adelaide, she acquitted herself well and while she did have some really outstanding performances, even when she was quieter, there was always a moment or two within games where you could see she was capable of kicking a couple of goals and winning the match for her side. Not far off 180cm, Schirmer can push up to a wing or even in defence, but she always looks damaging inside 50 and a real target for her teammates to kick to.

Eliza James (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

A good size and capable of hitting the scoreboard, the 176cm James is a damaging prospect. She showed in her two games this year how she has developed both her offensive and defensive traits, and even as an Under 16s player for the Chargers, stood up in nine games and booted five goals. As one of a number of Chargers who were able to provide support to the top-end talent this year, James is another leader in the group to standout in her own top-age year in 2021.

Alana Lishmund (Norwood/South Australia)

Was a prominent member of the Norwood side in her debut SANFL Women’s season, then really stepped up as one of the best in the All-Stars match last month. She is predominantly a forward talent who can push up the ground into the midfield, and then play high or deep forward when required. A reliable kick for goal, she has that X-factor about her inside 50 and can be a leading or crumbing target, playing taller than her 166cm size, and one who will be another South Australian jostling for a spot as one of the more prominent talents in the state.

Alana Lishmund. Picture credit: AFL Media

Jaide Anthony (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

A multi-sport talent for the Stingrays, Anthony also has that something special about her game playing as a forward. She can play at either end, and has progressed through the pathway from V/Line Cup to the NAB League Girls. One who has shared her football journey with cricket duties – she has only managed the five games for the Stingrays – she knows how to hit the scoreboard and provide a presence. Despite standing at just 166cm, Anthony plays like a taller forward and finds space, and will be a top talent to watch out for from the Stingrays in 2021.

Others:

Maroochydore’s Bella Smith is another member of the AFL Women’s National Academy who stood up for Maroochydore this season in the QAFL Women’s, whilst Georgia Hutton and Caitlin Thorne are a couple of Gold Coast Academy members who showed some top-end traits during the All-Stars match.

The South Australian group has been sensational with plenty having senior experience, led by South Adelaide’s Lauren Clifton who stood out in the All-Stars match up forward. Central District’s Madison Lane, North Adelaide’s Kate Case, Glenelg’s Brooke Tonon and Woodville-West Torrens’ Jamie Parish are others who have been ones to watch at SANFL Women’s level this season.

Over in the west, Chloe Reilly remains a dangerous forward option for East Fremantle with her work at ground level and around goals, whilst Swan Districts’ Emma Nanut, and South Fremantle trio, Tayla Whincup, Taylah Cruttenden and Poppy Stockwell are also great talents.

Looking to the NAB League and there are plenty of names to throw up, but a few in the mix include Mikayla Jones (Murray Bushrangers), Jemma Radford (Dandenong Stingrays) and Annie Lee (Geelong Falcons) who have shown to be natural players in their respective areas. From the Vic Metro perspective, Peppa Poultney (Calder Cannons), Stella Reid (Oakleigh Chargers), Caitlin Sargent (Western Jets) and Tarrah Delgado (Northern Knights) were terrific this year, while a host of middle-age Sandringham Dragons got their starts and will no doubt produce a number of surprise packets alongside their elite bottom-age talents.

Perri King is another Tasmanian prospect behind Prokopiec to watch, making history as the Devils’ first goalkicker last season and will be keen to build on that again. From Northern Territory, there is a heap of great young talents coming through from 2022 onwards, with one 2021 draft prospect being Georgia Johnson, a 160cm talent from Waratah who stood out in the NT All-Stars match last month. Playing in defence, she was one to take note of as she regularly mopped up and got the ball down the field for Team Hewett.

Alongside the top-age talents, a number of over-age talents who missed out on being drafted this year will no doubt be trying to stake their case against be it via the NAB League or state leagues, including Brooke Hards, Jemma Finning and Annabel Strahan (all Bendigo Pioneers), Zoe Hill, Abbey Jordan and Jess Matin (all Dandenong Stingrays), Ash Snow and Maeve Chaplin (both Northern Knights), Amber Micallef (Oakleigh Chargers), Olivia Meagher (Eastern Ranges) and Grace McRae (Gippsland Power) who all received AFL Women’s Draft Combine invites but were unlucky to miss out.

In Western Australia, Maggie MacLachlan (Subiaco), Brianna Hyde and Mikayla Hyde (both Swan Districts) head into 2021 as over-agers, while mature-agers Ella Smith and Jess Low (both Claremont), Rosie Walsh (East Fremantle) and Sarah Wielstra (Swan Districts) are others who missed out on the AFL Women’s Draft but will remain ones to watch.

Elsewhere, Northern Territorian Mattea Breed continues to develop for Norwood in South Australia, whilst Abby Favell (Murray Bushrangers), Jayde Hamilton (Queanbeyan Tigers) and Kiara Beesley (Southern Power) were draft combine invitees from NSW/ACT.

In Queensland, Beth Pinchin has shown great resilience as a mature-ager coming back from multiple injuries, while Courtney Bromage and Brooke Spence are other mature-agers who caught attention this year. Christine Okesene, Ebony Peterson, Laura Blue, Chloe Gregory and Madison Goodwin were also in the mix this year with Draft Combine invites so will be kept on close watch in 2021. The other two players to receive AFL Women’s Draft Combine invites but miss out were the exciting Freda Puruntatameri (Calder Cannons/Northern Territory) and Charlie Vandenberg (Wynyard/Tasmania) who have plenty of development left in them.

Anderson stars as Under 18s get job done over WAFL Women’s

WESTERN Australia’s brightest young stars put on a show and made the most of their opportunities to come away with a 17-point win over the West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s All-Stars side in terrible conditions. The Under 18s All-Stars held up well defensively considering the WAFL Women’s side maintained large portions of forward half possession but could not capitalise on the scoreboard with just one goal from eight scoring shots. It was the work of over-age talent Nyra Anderson who was a clear best on ground, starring for the winners and showing her strength and clean hands at ground level.

Along with Anderson, middle-ager Courtney Rowley had a massive first half, and another young talent in Jaide Britton had a huge second half, to assist Anderson and help the teenage side get over the line. For the WAFL Women’s team, Tessa Doumanis was lively up forward and should have had a few more than her one major, as well as had a hand in a few other scoring chances. Along with Doumanis, Sarah Garstone tried hard out of defence, while Tiah Haynes and Chloe Wrigley were also prominent.

Rowley had a huge first term for the Under 18s, seemingly everywhere on the ground and winning it with ease. Despite her performance in the back half and along the wing, it was the All-Stars who looked dangerous early with back-to-back behinds after a rushed behind and missed set shot from Deni Broadhurst had them with the early lead. Liusaidh Gilchrist had a great spoil at half-back as the Under 18s were attacking through the likes of Amy Franklin and Rosie Walsh, but it would be a nice contested mark from Chloe Reilly that earned the first set shot on goal.

Her set shot looked good in the driving rain, but cannoned into the post. It changed the momentum of the game however, as Shakira Pickett and Anderson were busy around the stoppages. Garstone was doing her best under pressure but the wall at half-forward was set up for the Under 18s to control forward half possession. After not much movement on the scoreboard, it took a nice snap from Emily Bennett out of nothing with an open goalsquare to seize the moment and hand her side the quarter time lead.

The second term was almost a counter contrast early after it took 13 minutes for the first goal in the opening quarter. This time, it was some magic out of the middle from Mikayla Morrison leading to a nice Poppy Stockwell mark not long after who made sure of her set shot from 30m out straight in front. It was scrappy, contested footy considering the conditions, but Lou Knitter Medallist, Wrigley was working hard on the inside. Breanne Spencer was a rock in defence with a number of intercept marks, and despite Rowley having a massive game at half-back, it would be the All-Stars who responded on the scoreboard.

Doumas won the ball nine and a half minutes into the term, sidestepped an opponent and was helped via a Zoe Gillard shepherd to put one home off her slick left boot. The WAFL Women’s were back within a kick at half-time with Maggie MacLachlan and Brianna Hyde both having some great defensive moments to keep the opposition at bay considering the possession dominance in that term.

The third term started like the second ended, with the WAFL Women’s team having plenty of chances attacking. Sara Wielstra and Jayme Harkin combined for a quick snap on goal and then Wrigley had one two, but both failed to register a score. A costly 50m penalty handed Dana East plenty of meterage and the Under 18s’ first look forward, but the WAFL Women’s defence was again up to the task. Rowley looked to set Anderson a task in a one-against three contest, but the 19-year-old seemingly did well, bringing it to ground and then using her clean hands off the next stoppage.

Anderson was not only working into the game, she was having a huge say in it. A sharked ball by Grace Wilkie at half-forward saw her pump it inside 50 midway through the term to a one-on-one. In slippery conditions, Anderson kept her feet and just managed to get boot to ball for it to dribble home and extend the lead out to 10. MacLachlan nearly had a goal of her own with a quick snap which missed, but it was Anderson again who bobbed up with a great effort against two opponents at ground level to collect and calmly spin, giving off the handball to the loose teammate in Lauren Quaife who kicked the easiest of goals for her side with two minutes on the clock.

The deficit could have been even greater for the WAFL Women’s side had it not been for Garstone’s intercepting in defence, with the Fremantle delistee certainly putting her hand up to be reconsidered. With a 17-point deficit to their name, the WAFL Women’s team needed something special in the last term, but much like the second term, it was all the Under 18s early. Britton was having a purple patch with a number of good touches, and Franklin pushed forward again had a snap but just missed to the right. Another rushed behind followed and it was the Under 18s peppering the goals now with consecutive behinds.

In the nine-and-a-half-minute mark of the final term, Reilly tried something special off the outside of the boot in the forward pocket, but was touched off the boot before it sailed home. It was her side’s fourth consecutive behind, but they were all but home and hosed. Despite this, the WAFL Women’s side rallied in the last seven minutes to have multiple scoring opportunities that had they gone through, could have seen them steal the win. Unfortunately despite Doumanis having a couple of set shots, and handing a couple more off, all four set shot chances either fell short or missed marginally.

In the end, the Under 18s made more of their goal scoring chances and were the only side to kick multiple goals in a term. Despite neither team kicking a major in the final term, it was tense and hard fought with both sides giving it a red hot crack in challenging conditions. With the AFL Women’s Draft Combine coming up, those players invited will be keen to put their best foot forward after another strong outing in what is their last of the season.

U18S ALL-STARS 1.1 | 2.1 | 4.2 | 4.6 (30)
WAFLW ALL-STARS 0.2 | 1.3 | 1.3 | 1.7 (13)

GOALS: 

U18s: E. Bennett, P. Stockwell, N. Anderson, L. Quaife.
WAFLW: T. Doumanis.

ADC BEST:

U18s: N. Anderson, C. Rowley, J. Britton, E. Bennett, A. Franklin
WAFLW: T. Doumanis, S. Garstone, T. Haynes, C. Wrigley, J. Low

Picture: AFL Photos

Two goals in two minutes from 15-year-old Ella Roberts sends Peel into its first WAFLW Grand Final

A MATCH-WINNING performance in the final term by 15-year-old Ella Roberts has helped book Peel Thunder a spot in the West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s Grand Final. The talented teenager who does not turn 16 until December, broke the game open in the last seven minutes to slot two terrific goals and help her side record a 9.1 (55) to 5.8 (38) victory over reigning premiers East Fremantle in the preliminary final. She was one of many players to stand up when it counted, as the young Thunder outfit was able to answer each challenge set down for them by the experienced East Fremantle outfit, and ran out the stronger side to book a rematch with Subiaco next week.

It was East Fremantle that started stronger, kicking with a breeze that enabled the Sharks to control play in their forward half. The Thunder had just two inside 50s for the quarter – the first and last of the term – and could not put a score on the board. The Sharks could, but seemingly wasted some golden opportunities to put together a strong first term lead. They booted 1.4, with the first goal coming in the 14th minute after three behinds. A nice kick inside 50 was well read by Rosie Walsh who ran onto it, grabbed it cleanly goalside and put it home from 15m out.

Cassie Davidson and Tanisha Anderson were holding up well in defence, whilst Gabby O’Sullivan was looking her usual dangerous self, even if she had contributed the couple of behinds. Shot after shot just missed for East Fremantle, and despite their dominance, and the work of Sharon Wong around the ball and Madeline Ross, Lily Bird and Ruby Schleicher through the middle and half-back respectively, East Fremantle only held a 10-point lead at the first change.

It had been a dire scrap in the opening term with Peel holding on against a fierce East Fremantle attack, but that soon changed with a nice kick in from youngster, Courtney Rowley who hit up Krystal Carter inside 50. Carter was awarded a free kick for in the back, then went back and drilled the shot just three minutes into the contest. Schleicher was continuing to do well in her one-on-one, but a couple of unlucky moments for the Sharks – which saw Schleicher rested on the bench and Katelyn Catalano come hobbling off – allowed Peel to take some control.

Schleicher’s opponent Kate Bartlett stepped up against a smaller opponent to mark off an Ebony Bilcich kick inside 50 then convert an important goal in the ninth minute of the term to give her side the lead for the first time. Her confidence was sky high, and a moment later she read the horrible bounce for Schleicher better, scooping it up and spotted a loose Bailey Molloy all alone 40m out. Molloy went back and nailed the set shot too, and midway through the term, Peel was really cooking. But the Thunder were not done just yer.

Three minutes later, ongoing pressure from the Peel forwards forced a quick kick from a Sharks defender to go out of bounds and Bartlett sprinted to the boundary line to receive the free kick. From 50m she wheeled around and launched home, with the pack misreading the kick to fall short and it bounced over the back and home without a hand to it. All of a sudden, Peel was 13 points up and making East Fremantle pay for the wasteful first term.

It was not all bad for the Sharks, who got one back after new inclusion, Jessie McDonald got lively and hit up O’Sullivan leading out 35m from goal. The talented forward made no mistake with the set shot, just escaping the hands on the line and with five minutes to play, the margin was seven points. O’Sullivan almost had another goal after taking advantage from a Walsh free to play on, but uncharacteristically went for the dribble and missed for her third behind of the day. It followed on from a Larissa Versaci miss moments earlier, and despite East Fremantle doing all the attacking late, it was Peel that would emerge five-point leaders at half-time.

Determined to make the most of the wind the second time around, McDonald again got busy, with clean hands to handball over her shoulder between two Sharks and hit up the running O’Sullivan. With her fifth scoring shot of the day, O’Sullivan made no mistake on the run and put it home to return the lead to the reigning premiers. The first six minutes belonged to East Fremantle as the visitors continued to pepper the goals and lock the ball inside 50. Once the game opened up, Peel raced it down and Carter won a free kick at the top of 50 and kicked to a pack.

Reading the ball off hands, Peel’s leading goalkicker Kira Phillips – who had not touched the ball prior to that moment – snapped off the right quickly to put through another major for the Thunder and Peel took back the lead. It was Peel’s turn to take control of the forward half possession, but East Fremantle turned defence into offence, only for Ashleigh Gomes to get a horrible bounce and the Thunder clear to safely. Phillips almost created something out of nothing with a kick off the ground late in the term going to the Bartlett-Schleicher duel, which saw a free kick awarded for holding to the latter.

East Fremantle went forward, and Chloe Reilly managed to find Bird inside 50 who kicked to the top of the square where McDonald roved the ball to perfection and kicked her first of the game with three minutes remaining in the quarter. Setting up the last three Sharks goals, the debutant looked dangerous every time she went near it. Now holding the lead by a couple of points, East Fremantle added another goal for good measure after the siren with Sara Lewis paid a free for being held in the ruck stoppage, and sent it home to stretch the lead to eight at the final break. Unfortunately for Sharks fans, that would be the last score of the day for the reigning premiers.

The final term belonged to Peel Thunder, as East Fremantle made a positional change with O’Sullivan moved to a wing and playing a defensive kick-behind-play role to help with the Thunder breeze. In what was symbolic of the quarter to come, Roberts had a pinpoint perfect kick to Phillips who won a free kick 35m out and kicked a goal just over a minute into the quarter and immediately the Thunder were back within two points. East tried to attack, as both sides were willing and Maddy Ross came off after a heavy collision, while Kimberley Bowey took a few crucial intercept possessions dropping back to help the defence.

But the weight of numbers and forward pressure eventually won out for the Thunder, with another youngster in Rowley spotting Phillips one-on-one and hit her up well. The strong marking forward made no mistake for her third goal of the contest and Peel was back in front, albeit by just four points. Midway through the term, Jade Briggs – who had been getting busy through the second half in particular – had a snap off her left for it to trickle through for the Thunder’s first behind of the day. The margin was five points and the game was crying out for a hero from either side to break it open.

Enter 15-year-old Roberts. In the 14th minute of the quarter, she bustled her way forward, the ball was collected by Bartlett who with lightning hands, dished off to Roberts and off a step from 40m put it through and the Thunder players erupted. East Fremantle would need two goals to win, but Peel was still not home, they needed another. So Roberts delivered again. Scooping the ball up from 45m, under immense pressure from the Sharks, the talented teenager put it on the boot off a couple of steps and it curled around the post in an effort even better than her first. There was jubilation everywhere as the Thunder players mobbed her and even the coaching box and fans were starting to believe.

East Fremantle tried to attack in the last few minutes, but the work of Shannon Whale and Davidson in defence resulted in some vital intercept marks. The red-hot Roberts was thrown into the middle and then won a couple of touches in defence helping there. A late scuffle broke out in the Sharks’ forward pocket as tensions rose, but Peel was able to do enough to defuse the situation, and the game, by taking time off the clock. As if fittingly, Roberts would have the last kick of the game at half-back, kicking long as the siren sounded and Peel Thunder was through to their first ever WAFL Women’s Grand Final in just their second season.

PEEL THUNDER 0.0 | 4.0 | 5.0 | 9.1 (55)
EAST FREMANTLE 1.4 | 2.7 | 5.8 | 5.8 (38)

GOALS:

Peel Thunder: K. Phillips 3, E, Roberts 2, K. Bartlett 2, K. Carter, B. Molloy.
East Fremantle: G. O’Sullivan 2, R. Walsh, J. McDonald, S. Lewis.

ADC BEST:

Peel Thunder: E. Roberts, C. Davidson, C. Rowley, K. Bartlett., K. Ditchburn
East Fremantle: G. O’Sullivan, R. Schleicher, J. McDonald, S. Wong, K. Bowey

Picture: Owen Davies/Peel Thunder

WAFL Women’s Preliminary Final: Peel Thunder vs. East Fremantle

IT is somewhat fitting that Peel Thunder and East Fremantle face off in the preliminary final of the West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s competition. The red-hot Sharks, coming from nowhere needed to string three consecutive wins together in the final three rounds – which they did – and then another three in finals in order to take out the premiership. They are no stranger to success, having won the past two flags, including the last for the WAWFL and first for the WAFL Women’s last year. Peel Thunder on the other hand are playing their first ever finals series, and are searching for their first ever finals win.

A last round win to the Thunder over the Tigers helped Peel grab second spot, in no small part thanks to East Fremantle’s victory over Swan Districts. It saw the Sharks sneak into third spot on the table, leapfrog the Swans and end Claremont’s season all in one. Prior to the last few rounds of the season, the Sharks had only won the Round 1 match over newcomers, South Fremantle, and had not managed to find the grove since, losing to each of the other sides along the way. With the return of some key players, the reigning premiers are ready to go deep again, and standing in their way is a young Peel Thunder side that has been mighty impressive this season in what has clearly been a standout 2020 for them.

Kira Phillips again won the goalkicking for the Thunder, being a dominant force with 13 goals in eight games and a major target up there. Kate Bartlett (seven goals) and Krystal Carter (five) have also been prominent. For the Sharks, they have three players on five snags, with Sara Lewis, Katelyn Catalano and Stephanie Sparke all hitting the milestone despite six or less games this season. Now the teams will be relying on them to help kick a winning score, after Peel lost to Subiaco last week, and East Fremantle doubled up on its effort against Swan Districts.

The Peel defence up against the East Fremantle attack will be a battle to watch within the clash, as the likes of Tanisha Anderson and Shannon Whale lead the young Thunder outfit. For the Sharks, their experience up front such as Gabby O’Sullivan and Lewis is key, whilst in defence, the Sharks have Alex Williams and Ruby Schleicher who provide that AFL Women’s talent. They will need to find a way to stop Phillips who is a known goalkicker, as is another AFLW player in Kate Bartlett.

The Thunder have less experience, but make up for it in youthful exuberance. Sarah Verrier is one of Western Australia’s top prospects this year, and is one of 13 players named amongst the extended squad in last week’s match. Along with Verrier, Jade Briggs and Jaide Britton are both top-agers, while Courtney Rowley and Bella Mann are middle-agers showing some promising signs. The Thunder even have a couple of players in their 16th year, with Gracie Fenton and Ella Roberts – the latter of whom does not turn 16 until December. With all that youth, it makes it crucial for the likes of Cassie Davidson and Carter to stand up and settle the team down in big moments.

East Fremantle have no shortage of experience players, but still have some teenagers running around, such as 19-year-old Rosie Walsh who has been a target up forward since booting 11 goals in Round 1 for the Reserves. She earned an AFL Women’s Draft Combine invitation, whilst over-agers Lily Bird, Kate Inglis-Hodge and Zoe Gillard are others who stand out week to week. A player to watch for next year from the Sharks is exciting forward, Chloe Reilly, who is the youngest player in the team, not turning 17 until next month. The Sharks luckily have plenty of experience in O’Sullivan, Kimberley Bowey, Sharon Wong, Madeline Ross and Larissa Versachi, whilst Julie-Ann Norrish has been superb in defence.

The game is hard to predict a winner, with the East Fremantle experience no doubt playing a factor, but the Thunder have so much young talent, they are always dangerous and after getting the first taste of finals out of the way last week, will be keen to post a win and earn a second crack at Subiaco in the grand final next week.

Final quarter frenzy sends Sharks into the prelim

A FINAL quarter frenzy by reigning premiers, East Fremantle has seen the Sharks bob up and defeat Swan Districts for the second consecutive week in the West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s competition. Last week’s win over the Swans was to secure home ground advantage – as well as a finals spot itself – while this week was putting the final nail in the black and whites coffin for the season. In what was an unpredictable contest – from the matchplay to the weather – East Fremantle got up just in the knick of time despite being held scoreless for two quarters.

The Sharks kicked the first two goals of the game thanks to a strong breeze favouring their end at New Choice Homes Park, with Samara Pluschke getting on the board via a snap just one minute into the contest. The Swans had chances of their own, with young guns Mikayla Morrison and Shanae Davison combining to give veteran, Fi Boucher a chance but could not quite control it, while Nyra Anderson kicked into the player on the mark from 20m out. The wind was making it difficult for the Swans, with even the football seemingly barracking for the Swans.

Ashley Sharp was running into an open 50, only for a Jack Crisp-like bounce to cause her to reassess, only to be caught by Pluschke at half-forward. Julie-Ann Norrish and Alex Williams were having sensational days down back, whilst Gabby O’Sullivan was doing Gabby O’Sullivan things, and setting up her teammates. A long bomb inside 50 only just missed the hands of Rosie Walsh, but O’Sullivan’s next touch was an intercept and handball to Lily Bird 30m out who made no mistake off a quick step from 30m. The Sharks led by 14 points, and it was only a Jess Cox chance – a snap towards goal – that was knocked through for a behind to make the deficit 13 points at the first break.

The second term was more of an arm-wrestle for both sides, as Mother Nature had a laugh at the players expense. The strange term began with Larissa Versaci winning a free for being polaxed – by her own teammate – much to the shock of Anderson who the umpire blamed for the contact. Light rain began falling a few minutes into the contest, and that became heavy rain seven and a half minutes through, before Mother Nature decided she wanted to go the full distance and just outright bucketed down in what was more of a good day for ducks rather than Swans or Sharks, but both sides adapted to the new conditions.

It was unlucky for the Swans who could not take full advantage of the wind like the Sharks had in the first term, but after a few chances from Anderson and Tara Stribley, Swan Districts broke through. Morrison had a set shot that looked like it was a dry day, putting through a vital major, the first of the contest for the visitors to draw within five points at half-time. The work of Mikayla Hyde and Hayley Cole had been impressive, as the Swans just kept within touch at the main break.

The rain lightened up after that, with the third term more wet conditions than consistent rain, and it was Swan Districts that emerged beneficiaries despite kicking into the wind. They booted three goals to zero, holding the Sharks goalless for a second straight quarter. Off the back of some great work by Anderson, Sharp was able to get ball to boot early despite slipping over, handing her side the lead. Not long after a multitude of 50s in an undisciplined effort by the Sharks, handed dour full-back Lauren Osborne with the most unlikely of set shots from the goalsquare. The defender delivered for the Swans, extending her side’s lead out to seven points at the 10-minute mark of the quarter.

A kicking in danger call against Ruby Schleicher gave Mikayla Hyde a set shot from 30m, with the talented top-age teenager making no mistake, judging the breeze perfectly. Along with Anderson, Davison and her sister Brianna Hyde, Mikayla was willing her side to victory. With the lead out to 14 points, East Fremantle needed a response, but unfortunately could not muster anything of note as Versaci had a good old fashioned worm burner in the Sharks’ only set shot of the term.

Having to match Swan Districts’ effort of three goals against the breeze in the last quarter, the Sharks got to work looking damaging from the get-go. Katelyn Catalano got them on the board for the first time since midway through the first term, albeit soccering through a behind. Swans had moved Boucher to defence in order to add some extra experience behind the ball, but she was caught holding Sara Lewis who made no mistake from 15m out and got the ball rolling for the home team. The Swans continued to attack, but the work of Norrish, Williams and Schleicher was keeping them at bay. Morrison missed an uncharacteristic flying shot at the goal six minutes into the term to make the margin eight points, which would end up being the Swans last score of the game.

East Fremantle dominated possession the next six minutes, but it would take a defensive effort from Versaci who laid a terrific tackle, to nail a set shot from 15 metres to draw within two points. In a surprise to no one, it was O’Sullivan who popped up with the game-winner. Receiving the handball out of a stoppage, O’Sullivan put ball to boot with a clever snap to create something out of nothing and hand her side the lead with five minutes to play. Chloe Reilly almost kicked a third goal in a few minutes with the outside of the boot, but it went through the wrong sticks.

The lead was still four points, and despite Mikayla Hyde and Davison pressing up the wing great defensive pressure from the Sharks kept the Swans from advancing any further. With a couple of repeat stoppages inside 50 – and an O’Sullivan set shot that chewed her 30 seconds off the clock – the reigning premiers were able to hold on in a game that was as unpredictable as the 2020 year, and move through to face Peel Thunder in the preliminary final next week.

EAST FREMANTLE 2.2 | 2.2 | 2.2 | 5.5 (35)
SWAN DISTRICTS 0.1 | 1.3 | 4.4 | 4.5 (29)

GOALS: 

East Fremantle: S. Pluschke, L. Bird, S. Lewis, L. Versaci, K. Catalano.
Swan Districts: M. Morrison, A. Sharp, L. Osborne, M. Hyde.

ADC BEST:

East Fremantle: G. O’Sullivan, S. Wong, M. Ross, J. Norrish, A. Williams
Swan Districts: M. Hyde, B. Hyde, S. Davison, J. Cox, A. Ralph

In an equally topsy-turvy game, minor premiers Subiaco were able to hold on in a low-scoring win over Peel Thunder to book a spot in the WAFL Women’s Grand Final. The Lions booted the only two goals of the first term to lead by 13 points, before the Thunder kicked three of the next four majors to hit the front at half-time. Trailing by two points at the main break, Subiaco edged ahead courtesy of a 1.2 to 0.0 third term, and in wet conditions held on in a no-score final term. The end result was a 4.4 (28) to 3.4 (22) victory in favour of the Lions who now have a week off to await the winner of Peel Thunder and East Fremantle in the preliminary final next weekend.

Kia Buckley (two goals), Aimee Schmidt (one) and Abbey Dowrick (one) all hit the scoreboard for the Lions, while Kate Bartlett (two) and Chloe Wrigley (one) were the major goalkickers for the Thunder in defeat. Subiaco’s best were Jessica Ritchie, Tiah Haynes and Ange Stannett, while the experience of Hayley Miller was crucial. For the Thunder, Wrigley, Courtney Rowley and Tanisha Anderson were all named amongst the best and will be important in their clash next week.

Picture: (via) East Fremantle Women’s Facebook

WAFL Women’s weekly wrap: Round 6 – Sharks circle finals with eight-point triumph over wounded Lions

EAST Fremantle has kept its hopes of a West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s three-peat alive with another narrow win in Round 6 of the competition, this time over a previously undefeated Subiaco outfit. The Lions almost looked destined to go through the regular season undefeated – not that they had not been pushed by teams prior – with only last placed and winless South Fremantle next week, but the Sharks ensured that did not happen with a season-defining win. It was a remarkable game in more ways than one with the “visiting” Sharks running out at East Fremantle Oval after the game was switched from New Choice Holmes Park.

If the change of venue was not already an omen for the Lions, than a hamstring injury to playmaker Beatrice Devlyn in the opening two minutes was a second roll of bad luck. As the saying goes, bad luck can often strike in threes, and two minutes into the second term, former AFL Women’s talent Lara Filocamo injured her ankle and had to be stretchered off. So just 22 minutes into the 80-minute match, the Lions were two players down and facing a six-point deficit at the first break.

That is to take nothing away from the promising start of the Sharks, who weathered the early Subiaco storm as the Lions had the breeze. A battle within the overall scheme of things was Fremantle teammates, Philipa Seth and Hayley Miller going head-to-head all day in the middle, in what would turn out to be a hotly contested fight with little room to move for two sides that often thrived on creating space. The first eight minutes of the opening term was played entirely in Subiaco’s half, with Jessica Ritchie playing out of the ruck and doing well, while Tiah Haynes was pressing high after coming off half-back and having an influence.

When the ball went down the Sharks end, Rosie Walsh took a strong contested mark and then gave off the quick hands to Gabby O’Sullivan in another contest moments later for the East Fremantle forward to kick their first score of the game. It would be a theme in the first term, as the combination worked again, with Walsh contesting, the ball falling to ground and O’Sullivan pouncing with a great crumbing goal. By quarter time, East Fremantle led 1.2 to 0.2 as O’Sullivan had the entire team’s score.

Janelle Cuthbertson was having some sort of game at full-back, keeping the former Lion and dangerous goalkicker, Sara Lewis in check whilst providing great run from defence. Katelyn Catalano had an early chance in the second term but hit the post, and from then, both defences stood up well. The teams tried to open up the game as Ruby Schleicher foiled a potential goal-scoring opportunity for the Lions with a one-on-one, and went for a four-bounce run down the wing later in the term to set up a goal-scoring opportunity for her own side. The Subiaco defence led by Tarnica Golisano was up to the task, spoiling the taller Walsh well to rush it through for a behind.

Neither team ended up putting through a major in the second term with just three behinds kicked for the entire quarter, including a gettable miss from the reliable Angela Stannett whose tackling pressure had been a highlight. Like many others, her set shot drifted for a behind, while O’Sullivan was pulling out the party tricks off the outside of the boot up the other end. Another snap, this time from Kahra Sprylan went begging into the post, and then a second chance off Sprylan’s boot was touched on the line by Holly Hyder. Haynes and Cuthbertson were crucial in keeping the Sharks goalless with the breeze, but Subiaco was still yet to kick a goal in the match.

That breakthrough goal finally came in the ninth minute when the clear best on ground in terms of her impact in O’Sullivan pounced with a snap after great work from Sprylan up the ground. The latter had won the ball, bounced off a couple of would-be tacklers then spun out of the contest to five her teammate a chance. As Lewis and Cuthbertson clashed in the marking contest, O’Sullivan swooped on the ball and slammed through a clever goal nine minutes into the quarter.

As if that had spurred on the top of the table Lions, Subiaco had its chances now, and knowing it had to take some advantage with the breeze, had a few forward forays. Haynes and Lindal Rohde were particularly driving the ball long, with Liana Burchell having a shot, but the reliable Julie-Anne Norrish rushing through another behind for the Lions. Not long after, Subiaco finally broke through for the long-awaited goal thanks to a deep forward 50 entry off the boot of Ritchie giving Danica Pisconeri a great chance one-on-one with the 2019 league best and fairest winner clunking it and then slotting the goal with five minutes remaining.

Both Chloe Reilly and Lewis had chances down the other end to stretch the lead out, but both put it out on the full with Reilly’s from a tough angle flying across the face, and Lewis from a shank set shot. Sensing the importance of not conceding another goal, Miller floated back into defence to take a strong grab and settled down the team to allow time off the clock and siren to go with her side only eight points down with 20 minutes to play.

O’Sullivan continued her ripping performance with some dangerous kicks inside 50 that put the Subiaco defence under all sorts of pressure. After kicking a coupe of herself in the first three quarters, the Fremantle AFL Women’s talent set up Catalano with a perfectly weighted kick to her advantage as the forward read the ball in flight well to mark and then goal. Five minutes into the quarter, the Sharks led by 14 points and it looked like a tough job for Subiaco to come back, kicking into the breeze.

Both defences remained steadfast by repeat stoppages and getting back to help out, though the teams were not without highlights. Cuthbertson burnt off Lewis after winning a one-on-one and had a four-bounce run down the wing, and then Jacqueline Toth had a huge chance in the 12th minute with a brilliant snap around the body. It was on target, but overage defender, Zoe Gillard read it like a book and was on the line to knock it over for a rushed behind. Toth would get a second chance a few minutes later though, with some scrappy work forward by the Lions paying off as Ritchie just kept the ball moving forward for Toth to snap and put it home.

With four and a half minutes remaining in the match, Subiaco trailed by seven points and needed some luck. Miller tried everything for her side, taking a match-record five-bounce run forward to kick inside 50, but the reliability of Norrish was able to see it safely out. It led to East Fremantle keeping it up the other end with O’Sullivan again having a shot on goal, but her shot hit the post for a final behind as the siren sounded not long after for an eight-point win.

It was hard to determine bests in an even game, but Cuthbertson and Haynes were superb for the losing side, with Miller always trying hard. For East Fremantle, O’Sullivan was the difference, while Seth in the midfield and Norrish in defence was outstanding and consistent throughout, making it an awesome contest to watch. The win gives East Fremantle the pole position of fourth, but it will need to defeat Swan Districts in the final round and hope Peel Thunder goes down to Claremont, or does not gain the three percentage points required to steal fourth. Subiaco had already secured top spot, with more than a 100 per cent difference to the second placed Swans, but the Lions will be keen to finish off the season well and not hold back against the winless Bulldogs in the final round.

SUBIACO 0.2 | 0.4 | 1.5 | 2.6 (18)
EAST FREMANTLE 1.2 | 1.3 | 2.7 | 3.8 (26)

GOALS:

Subiaco: D. Pisconeri, J. Toth.
East Fremantle: G. O’Sullivan 2, K. Catalano.

ADC BEST:

Subiaco: J. Cuthbertson, T. Haynes, H. Miller, L. Burchell, J. Ritchie
East Fremantle: G. O’Sullivan, P. Seth, J. Norrish, K. Catalano, K. Bowey

In other results, Swan Districts further established its claims as a premiership contender, knocking Peel Thunder out of the four with a seven-point victory, whilst Claremont enjoyed a 56-point win over South Fremantle. It was all the youth who starred for the Swans in the victory over Peel, as Shanae Davison (three goals), Mikayla Morrison (two), Olivia Cripps (one), Bianca Webb (one) and Nyra Anderson (one) all aged 20 years or younger. For Peel, Courtney Rowley, Greta McKinley and Kira Phillips all booted multiple goals, while Bailey Molloy scored one in the loss. For the Tigers, Brooke Whyte and Amy Franklin both slotted three goals in the big win, Mhicca Carter kicked two, and Sasha Goranova slotted one, while Poppy Stockwell kicked the sole major for the Bulldogs in the loss.

Picture credit: JBC Studios