Tag: ella roberts

2022 AFLW Draft – Teams to Watch: Peel Thunder

IN a new series looking towards the 2022 AFL Women’s Draft, we take a look at some teams that have outstanding prospects who showed plenty of promise in their bottom-age years to suggest the team might have plenty of potential for the next season. We continue with Peel Thunder, who have been a hotbed of talent the last few years, and remain one of the most exciting West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s sides.

KEY PLAYERS:

Ella Roberts
Tall Forward
17/12/2004 | 175cm

Set to be the most talked about prospect coming into 2022, with the talented forward already picking up her state and overall carnival Most Valuable Player (MVP) awards at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships. Already a dual premiership player – winning the first grand final off her own boot with crucial goals and then becoming such a crucial player in the Thunder side she was tagged most weeks – Roberts is a readymade talent who can impressive in many different ways. Strong overhead, athletic and just as fierce on the ground, Roberts has a terrific balance of offensive and defensive traits. Having no issues finding the ball – picking up 31 disposals in one game at the championships playing as a high half-forward – Roberts will remain an exciting talent to watch, week-in, week-out.

Aisha Wright
Small Forward/Midfielder
06/08/2004 | 157cm

Playing all three games for Western Australia at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships, Wright is a raw, but exciting prospect. Able to play predominantly as a high half-forward who can roll into the midfield and provide some hardness, she is a player who likes to take on the opposition and put the ball inside 50 to dangerous places. She averaged 11.3 disposals and 4.0 inside 50s at her bottom-age championships, booting a goal and catching the eye with some impressive plays. Whilst still building areas of her game to become a more complete player, Wright is one who has some exciting athletic traits and could be even more damaging when she is able to lift her accumulation. Her work rate up and down the ground is great, and she is always looking to present as an option.

Gracie Fenton
Balanced Midfielder
03/06/2004 | 165cm

Might not have made the Under 19s squad, but the consistent midfielder has been plying her trade in the WAFLW and gaining great state league experience. A readymade body who is not afraid to cop contact, Fenton was a class above with her ball-winning skills and impact on the game at the Under 17s Championships. Often winning it in close, Fenton had 24 and 22 disposals in the two State Academy games, and more importantly showed she could roll back into defence – picking up three rebound 50s in one game – and push forward with five inside 50s in the other. Capable of playing inside or out, Fenton is no stranger to winning the pill and had 18 disposals, three marks and three inside 50s as the receiver going forward.

TOP-AGE PROSPECT:

Bella Mann
Medium Utility
16/08/2003 | 171cm

One of a number of West Australians in contention, Mann was unlucky to miss out and with another big preseason behind her, could be one to watch in 2022. Capable of playing anywhere on the field, Mann seemed to settle into defence, strong one-on-one and able to be accountable, whilst providing some offensive drive. She is a good size at 171cm and can match most players for strength, able to play on talls or smalls which makes her a versatile defender.

OTHERS:

Two other players made the Under 19s West Australian squad, with Emily Gunton being another highly-talented prospect and good size at 171cm. Averaging the 4.7 disposals and 3.7 tackles at the championships, the bottom-ager showed some good promising signs, mostly playing Rogers Cup this season (12 games). Naomi Wilson was named in the squad, but the ruck unfortunately did not end up playing a game, only playing three Rogers Cup games early in the season. From the Under 17s Championships cohort, there are four more players still two drafts away from being picked up, and a further two remarkably 2006-born talents. Jordain Thompson averaged the most at the carnival with 12 disposals in both games, while Cierra O’Donnell, Jade Mead and Tessa Liddington also played as 2023 AFLW Draft prospects. Jorja Haines is a 2006-born talent but had a couple of impressive outing, averaging 16.5 disposals and 3.5 clearances across the two matches, while Holly Britton is another name to keep an eye out for in the future.

22 in 2022: AFLW Draft Ones to Watch

WHILE the 2021 AFL Women’s Draft is done and dusted for another year, clubs quickly turn their attention to 2022, having followed the potential draft prospects for many years. Whilst there will be at least 12 months until the players begin to hear their names called out, Draft Central will throw up 22 names to remember for 2022, in alphabetical order. This does not necessarily mean that the 22 named will be the top 22, but some of many who have already impressed across the board.

Charlotte Baskaran
Balanced Midfielder
09/12/2004 | 162cm
Western Jets / Vic Metro

One of the best kicks going around, Baskaran is a potent inside/outside midfielder who is able to find space and do a lot of damage with ball-in-hand. A high impact player, Baskaran has remarkably already played three seasons at the Jets, making her debut as a 14-year-old back in 2019. Over the past two seasons, she has averaged more than 20 disposals and around six tackles per game, but it is her pinpoint passes inside 50 that make her a clear standout amongst the top Victorian talents.

Mia Busch
Medium Defender
18/05/2004 | 166cm
Eastern Ranges / Vic Metro

The skilful defender burst onto the scene this year with an impressive consistency, averaging 15.1 disposals, 2.8 marks, 3.5 tackles and 3.5 rebounds. She caught the eye with her ability to use the ball well by foot coming out of the defensive half, and has equal measures of defensive and offensive traits that can set up play down the field. Won Eastern Ranges’ best and fairest award this season, and will be expected to push into the midfield next year to showcase her versatility.

Amber Clarke
Medium Utility
22/12/2004 | 169cm
Dandenong Stingrays / Vic Country

In a very talented Stingrays lineup, Clarke has likely pushed herself to the front of the cue thanks to her enormous upside. Arguably the fastest player in the Victorian pool, once she gets goalside, it is all over for any opponent hoping to catch her. Impossible not to see with her ability to just get and go, Clarke can play at either end, booting 10 goals in six games in 2021. That tally would have been more, had injury not struck in the Vic Country championships game against Vic Metro.

Octavia Di Donato
Tall Utility
23/02/2004 | 172cm
Bendigo Pioneers / Vic Country

After showing glimpses in her first season (one that was albeit cut short), Di Donato stepped up in 2021 to showcase terrific versatility from defence, to attack and eventually through the midfield. That latter role is what is likely to be her goal in 2022, and she showed she can win the ball, averaging 15.4 disposals, 3.6 marks and 3.3 inside 50s. Possessing a booming kick, Di Donato is a high-impact player forward of centre, and ticks a lot of boxes when it comes to what she could produce at the next level.

Mackenzie Eardley
Key Position Utility
13/01/2004 | 180cm
Dandenong Stingrays / Vic Country

The second Dandenong player on the list, Eardley shapes as a top key position option, credit to her versatility at both ends. Still refining her marking itself, Eardley is quite an athletic player with good ground level work. She can be on the last line or in attack, and moves well for a player of her size. She has pinch-hit in the ruck too, and with another preseason behind her, expect her to be one of the prominent key position players in the draft, stepping up to play two games with the Vic Country Under 19s squad already.

Hannah Ewings
Inside Midfielder
17/03/2004 | 167cm
North Adelaide / South Australia

The only player on this list not to play AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships this year, Ewings was a late out due to an ankle injury in the SANFL Women’s. Her form in the 18 months leading up to that moment was nothing short of sensational, and the North Adelaide player won the Breakthrough Player Award in the SANFLW in 2020, becoming a premiership player at 16-years-old. Similar to Ellie McKenzie, Ewings has a booming kick, is strong in the air and at ground level, and is an unbelievable contested ball-winner.

Jasmine Fleming
Midfielder/Forward
05/11/2004 | 165cm
Oakleigh Chargers / Vic Metro

Not making her debut until the final round of the NAB League Girls season, Fleming – the daughter of Australian cricket champion Damien – came in and dominated. Only turning 17 at the end of the year, Fleming averaged 20 disposals, four tackles, four inside 50s and booted three goals to collect a premiership medal along the way. With eye-catching athleticism out of the stoppage and superb skill, Fleming is one of those players that will only get better with time, and is a natural sportsperson, sharing the load with – you guessed it – cricket.

Alana Gee
Balanced Midfielder
20/04/2004 | 170cm
Coolangatta Tweed / Queensland

If clean and composed with ball-in-hand is what you are after, then Gee is the type of player to catch the eye. A good size at 170cm, Gee covers the ground well and is able to use either foot. Her work rate to win the ball in all thirds is impressive, and at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships, was the outside receiver to get-and-go forward, playing between a wing and in defence, but she is a natural inside midfielder who will take over from the recently drafted Teagan Levi and Bella Smith in the Queensland program.

Montana Ham
Inside Midfielder
29/03/2004 | 178cm
Western Jets / Vic Metro

The other key Western Jets talent is dominant clearance player Ham, who has been catching the eye since her debut as a 14-year-old back in 2019. A very different prospect to Baskaran, Ham has a lot more height, and has been utilised in just about every role, but her best is inside where she wins the ball and thumps it on the boot with a penetrating kick. She played two of Metro’s games at Under 19s level and did not look out of place, averaging 15 disposals, four marks and three inside 50s. One of the taller options to keep an eye on next season.

Cynthia Hamilton
Inside Midfielder
02/04/2004 | 178cm
GIANTS Academy / NSW-ACT

Hamilton is the top NSW-ACT prospect for 2022 after taking out the Allies’ Most Valuable Player (MVP) award at the 2021 AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships. Racking up a whopping 21.5 disposals, 3.0 marks, 10.0 tackles, 5.0 inside 50s and booting two goals in her two games, Hamilton is a fierce player at the ball, and puts her body on the line time and time again. She is one who at her size can add more strings to her bow and refine a few areas of her game, but in terms of her natural footballing ability, it is there to see.

Bridie Hipwell
Inside Midfielder
15/06/2004 | 174cm
Sandringham Dragons / Vic Metro

After a starring role early in her Round 1 game for the Dragons, Hipwell hurt her ankle and missed several weeks. She finished the NAB League Girls season averaging 12.5 disposals and around three inside 50s and three tackles, then played the one Metro game at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships. A strong inside midfielder with good hands, Hipwell is someone who is capable of going forward and providing some height as well when required.

Sofia Hurley
Balanced Midfielder
30/01/2004 | 166cm
Sandringham Dragons / Vic Metro

An eye-catching midfielder with great spacial awareness through traffic, Hurley reads the ball off hands so well and is able to burst away fro stoppages. Possessing a nice balance of athleticism and skill, Hurley is the type of player who can turn a game when on-song, using the ball so well from half-back to half-forward. A high running capacity saw her average 18.1 disposals, 4,7 tackles, 3.9 inside 50s and 3.0 rebound 50s, finding the ball in all thirds of the ground, and looms as one of the top Victorian midfielders.

Keeley Kustermann
Medium Utility
17/04/2004 | 166cm
West Adelaide / South Australia

Another South Australian prospect to keep an eye on is the smooth-moving Kustermann who is well-balanced and able to use the ball so well under pressure. Having impressed as a 15-year-old at SANFL Women’s level last season in defence, Kustermann played further up the ground in 2021, and even played inside at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships. An injury early in the game against the Allies ended her championships early, but Kustermann eventually returned to state league level where she took to the field in a grand final.

Charlotte Mullins
Forward/Midfielder
28/10/2004 | 165cm
Aspley / Queensland

Impressing in both her Academy game against Coorparoo, and at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships against Vic Country, Mullins is a lively player who can find the ball and apply good defensive pressure to the opposition. She works herself into space, wins the ball and can create goal-scoring opportunities for both herself and her teammates. Likely to be more of a midfielder in 2022, Mullins has proven she can play as a high half-forward and then push up the ground to get involved when the game is not on her team’s terms.

Claire Ransom
Balanced Midfielder
21/02/2004 | 169cm
Tasmania Devils / Tasmania

The standout prospect from the Apple Isle next year is Ransom, a player who can best be described as class personified. As clean as they come on the inside, Ransom picks the right option time and time again, and her ball use by hand or foot is exquisite. Standing at 169cm, Ransom is a good size to play inside or outside, but she is best utilised winning the ball and using her smarts to sidestep and opponent then hit a target under pressure. Does not need to win a lot of the ball to do a lot of damage.

Ella Roberts
Tall Forward
17/12/2004 | 175cm
Peel Thunder / Western Australia

Yet to turn 17, Roberts already has an AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships MVP under her belt. Averaging a massive 24.3 disposals, 5.7 marks, 4.7 tackles, 5.3 inside 50s and booting four goals in three games, Roberts showed what anyone familiar with the WAFLW already knew – she is a star in the marking. Winning a grand final off her own boot at 15, Roberts translated that form into 2021, and showed she has few flaws between her aerial and ground work, and athleticism to boot. Right now, Roberts is the top player in the 2022 AFL Women’s draft class.

Paige Scott
Medium Forward
25/06/2004 | 166cm
GWV Rebels / Vic Country

The X-factor in the draft crop, Scott is an unbelievably dynamic forward who can turn a game off her own boot. Slotting 15 goals in nine games for the GWV Rebels in the NAB League Girls, then seven goals in three games at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships – including turning the game around against South Australia – she is a natural footballer inside 50. The scary thing was despite being such a dominant goalkicker, inaccuracy plagued her at times and she could have kicked even more. A fierce contested player, Scott is strong overhead and great at ground level too.

Emily Shepherd
Inside Midfielder
05/04/2004 | 164cm
Dandenong Stingrays / Vic Country

Having three players inside the top 22 at this stage emphasises just how strong the Stingrays will be next year, and Shepherd is that inside midfielder who can win clearances with great body positioning and strength. She throws the ball on the boot going forward, but wins a lot of contested ball and can extract it from the stoppages. Able to go forward and kick goals as well, Shepherd was injured mid-season and missed a fair chunk of football before returning to play all three Vic Country games at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships, averaging 11.3 disposals.

Keeley Skepper
Inside Midfielder
15/03/2004 | 163cm
Murray Bushrangers / Vic Country

When it comes to penetrating, few put the boot to ball like it owes them something quite like Skepper. Possessing enough speed to run out of the clearance, Skepper has one mode of kicking and that is with ultimate power. She racks up clearances time and time again, also amassing a high volume of inside 50s, averaging 4.7 per game to go with 16.7 disposals, 2.3 marks and 4.9 tackles. Once she is able to pinpoint those penetrating kicks, look out because her ability to win the ball and create separation is terrific.

Tara Stribley
Outside Midfielder
22/03/2004 | 165cm
Swan Districts / Western Australia

Western Australia’s top rated midfielder is Stribley out of Swan Districts, where she is clean and composed with ball-in-hand and creates run and carry on the outside. A lightly-built player, the 165cm wing is able to roam up and down the ground to find the ball. Definitely an outside receiver, it plays to Stribley’s strengths which are her ball use and decision making, as well as her vision, though she can also play off flanks and create opportunities for teammates down the ground or inside 50, which makes her a point of difference in the role she plays.

Lauren Wakfer
Ruck
23/04/2004 | 180cm
South Fremantle / Western Australia

The top ruck in the AFLW Draft pool at this stage is Wakfer out of the South Fremantle program, where she has come on in leaps and bounds this year. Averaging 12 hitouts and 10.3 disposals at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships, Wakfer is just as impressive at ground level, with great athleticism and turn of speed for a tall. She laid 5.3 tackles per game at the championships, and can also play as a key forward as she has at times in the WAFLW. Still adding more strength, Wakfer has high-level upside for the future.

Lily-Rose Williamson
Medium Defender/Midfielder
25/08/2004 | 166cm
Gippsland Power / Vic Country

A member of the Gippsland Power program for many years now coming through the V/Line Cup, Williamson is a high-potential project player who took her game to another level in 2021. Showing glimpses of her capabilities that come with unbelievable acceleration and power, Williamson would set the world record for most fend-offs in a season and probably only need a couple of games to do so. She can use the ball well when winning it, but it is her defensive pressure and metres gained that stands out, and once it all clicks consistently, watch out.

OTHERS TO WATCH:

The depth in the 2022 AFL Women’s Draft is exciting and unbelievable. When making the list, there were many more names that could have squeezed in. Calder Cannons’ Abbey McDonald is a smooth-moving small midfielder with good defensive and offensive traits and one who was the next in line to be named. Looking across Victoria, GWV Rebels defender Molly Walton and Gippsland Power midfielder Yasmin Duursma are another couple to remember for 2022, with another Rebels talent in ruck, Kalani Scoullar likely to be among the best rucks in the draft crop. Geelong Falcons have a number of even prospects such as Charlotte Simpson and Ashleigh Van Loon who will lead the midfield brigade, while Mia Van Dyke has been a highly touted tall for a number of years. Northern Knights’ Brooke Plummer showed strong signs as a wing in 2021 and will be another that catches the eye in 2022, while J’Noemi Anderson is a Sandringham Dragons and Allies representative hailing from the Northern Territory. With names aplenty, a few more who impressed at Victorian Under 17s level were Alisha Molesworth, Felicity Crank and Grace Hay who are all in the mix. Calder Cannons pocket rocket Reese Sutton and Western Jets’ Krystal Russell proved some highlights at ground level and in the air respectively.

Moving north, Ella Smith in Queensland is a notable performer in her bottom-age year, as is Fleur Davies, the taller sister of recently drafted, Giselle. Amelie Borg is a tall option playing between defence and pinch-hitting in the ruck as a Croweater to keep an eye on. Norwood inside midfielder Lana Schwerdt is a ball-winner to remember for 2022, while tall forwards Astrid Gooley and Jorja Hooper are also promising key talents. In Western Australia, Emily Gunton has had a strong end to the WAFLW season and could be a bolter early in 2022, while Ash Reidy, Mylee Leitch and Aisha Wright are dangerous players in the forward half.

Academy Watch: WAFLW Grand Final – Peel Thunder vs. Swan Districts

PEEL Thunder claimed their second successive flag with a memorable 5.6 (36) to 2.3 (15) win over Swan Districts on Sunday. Whilst plenty of AFL Women’s talent stood up, we took a look at how some of the State Academy members performed from both sides. Note: Any statistics cited are manually taken. All notes are the opinion of the individual writer.

PEEL THUNDER:

#5 Gracie Fenton

The youngster found a heap of the ball throughout the game, working hard in close and using it by hand or foot to extract it from the stoppages. At times she was rushed and under pressure, but she was able to amass the most touches of any of the Under 19s or Under 17s players, picking up 18 disposals, with three marks and three inside 50s. Whilst the experience around her found plenty of it, Fenton did not look overawed on the big stage and showed some promising signs for the future.

#8 Ella Roberts

A young talent in the making shoed a lot of promising plays. Her ability to run through traffic, does the job for her team, picks the ball up runs and kicks it inside her teams’ advantage 50, that results as a set shot on goal. Great performance very early into the game, used her speed and her control including her football smarts to kick it over into grass to let her teammates run onto it. Four minutes left in the first term; Roberts struggles to hold onto the mark but can always keep tracking the ball to make sure she keeps it in her teams’ possession. She provided great tackling pressure creating ball ups giving her team time to set up.

Almost kicking a goal, she showed her smarts by turning and snapping but just missing. Ten and a half minutes into the second term, Roberts just misses the mark but straight away and turns and picks it up nicely and runs and carries, takes one bounce only just going her way, right kick inside 50 but Jaime Henry was too good and intercepted the mark for her team. Beautiful set of hands from a kick from teammate Sabreena Duffy, goes for a goal from 30m out and just misses. Roberts has been consistent, and her intensity was outstanding throughout all four quarters.

#20 Jaide Britton

In the second term, Britton drove the ball deep from a smart quick run and carry, something she did on numerous occasions throughout the game. Whilst not having a heap of it, Britton did enough up with about eight kicks, a couple of marks and three inside 50s to keep the ball moving in transition and the Swan Districts defence under pressure. The Under 19s State Academy captain worked hard throughout the four quarters and continued to remain an option providing good metres gained.

#24 Aisha Wright

Had a promising game to finish with 11 disposals, three marks and an inside 50. In one instant she had a great handball out into space to teammate that gives them a clear inside 50. She buzzed around the half-forward line and always looked lively, working hard as an attacking player looking to go forward.

#40 Beth Schilling

Helped chop out in the ruck and competed well against Under 19s teammate Sarah Lakay. Had the four touches, two marks, two tackles and seven hitouts for the match, breaking even in her one-on-ones.

SWAN DISTRICTS:

#2 Tara Stribley

Had an early impression four minutes in the first term, out in the open 40m out and goes to the right as a behind. The wind impacted that shot for goal, but the wing showed plenty of run throughout the match. Whilst she did not always win a heap of the ball, she provided good spacing and had some nice touches late in the game, often getting around the contest.

#3 Dana East

Not her most prolific game but still had some important clearances and tackles, finishing with nine disposals, two clearances and three tackles. She worked hard throughout and rotated through the middle, having less time and space than in some games.

#12 Melisha Hardy

Hardy provided a number of smart handballs to clear the ball out into space to teammates. She marked on the chest from a kick outside of their 50m and she sends it back in there as quick as she can without wasting time. She also showed off her game smarts by rarely ever turning the ball over when she has it in her hands.

#13 Jaime Henry

Read the play very well, from a kick inside 50m from Ella Roberts on the opposition team, Henry read the play and intercepted the mark that would have saved her team from the opposition getting a goal. The important third quarter with 10 minutes remaining, Henry took the ball and opposition on with dodging and weaving through two players and kicks it to Mikayla Hyde through the middle of the ground. After a quieter start, Henry had a productive 13 disposals, three marks and four rebound 50s, having to often battle against Kira Phillips.

#14 Abbygail Bushby

Had some quick disposals throughout the game and won a 50m in range of the goals, however moved the ball too fast and low and kicked onto the player on the mark. She finished with seven touches for the game and showed some good signs for the coming years.

#22 Kloe Taylor

Showcasing her speed and skill, at one stage Taylor won it out of the middle and went for a run, with a quick kick inside their 50 that gave the Swans a chance on goal. Laid three tackles and had a couple of inside 50s to go with her five kicks.

#33 Sarah Lakay

Lakay was a very dominant tap ruck throughout the game. Early in the second term, Lakay wrapped up an opponent and won a free kick. Getting the free kick early in the second term, she showed she is not only good at rucking, but also very good at ground level as well. The standout ruck on the ground with nine disposals, three marks, 16 hitouts and two inside 50s. One of the better Swans players in the first half of the match.

 

Picture credit: WAFL

Peel Thunders to back-to-back WAFL Women’s flags

PEEL Thunder have added another chapter in their resurrection story, backing up their fairytale maiden premiership in 2020 with a second consecutive West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s flag. The Thunder defeated Swan Districts by 21 points in the decider, accounting for the minor premiers for the third time in six weeks, with a fourth quarter flurry of two goals to zero securing the win. Fremantle AFL Women’s talent Sabreena Duffy won the Lou Knitter Medal for best on ground in the Thunder’s triumph.

In one of the more strange scoring trends, the first four goals of the match went into the breeze, before the final three went the way of the wind-assisted team. Key targets inside 50 Kira Phillips and Kate Bartlett slotted all five majors for the Thunder, as Peel had the majority of the play for the day, though it was the defence, combined with the midfield work of Duffy and Sarah Verrier that saw the home team get up and claim their second consecutive flag.

Bartlett slotted her first just 90 seconds into the game, winning a free kick for too much holding on and made no mistake from just outside the goalsquare. Despite having the two weeks off due to the bye and then the state lockdown, Peel showed no signs of rustiness into the breeze, with Phillips shrugging off a tackle inside 50 and snapped around her body for her side’s second. Tara Stribley had her side’s best chance in between the two majors, but her kick which looked perfect off the boot showed just how strong the breeze was, violently tugged to the right for a behind. Fellow youngster Abbygail Bushby, and Swans captain Emily McGuire both had chances inside 50, with Bushby’s kick going into the player on the mark, and McGuire’s swaying out on the full.

Already the likes of Duffy and Bartlett were looking dangerous, with Ella Roberts competing hard but often having a defender wearing her at every contest. McGuire, Eliza Gelmi and Lauren Osborne were holding up well, restricting the Thunder to just four behinds with the breeze in the second term, as Bianca Webb returned serve on the reigning premiers with a set shot 25m out off a 50m penalty to stab home a goal. Roberts and Bartlett both had rushed chances but could not going on target, with Phillips’ shot in line with the behind post curling too thin.

Teenage talent Jaime Henry was tasked with the huge job on Phillips, but was far from overawed in the one-on-ones. The breeze was so tricky even the deadeye Roberts missed a set shot from 30m out with it tugged late and into the post. A late chance to Taylah Edwards inside 50 was marked safely in the square by Verrier, and the Thunder headed into half-time with a nine-point advantage.

Swan Districts had the breeze again and had several chances early, with Steph Cain and McGuire both having chances inside 50. Demi Liddle took a strong mark in the goalsquare and settled the team down on the last line, as the Thunder defence – along with Cassie Davidson and Tanisha Anderson – were continually intercepting and driving the ball down the field. McGuire’s chance also caught up in the breeze as she spent the quarter forward, and then Bartlett made it sting with a clever kick around her body one-on-one with Gelmi at the top of the quarter to extend the lead out to 14 points.

The final five minutes of the premiership quarter were spent in the Swans attacking half, as Mikayla Hyde began asserting herself inside 50 after a strong first half. She missed her first chance with a snap towards goal in the 14th minute, but then got goalside off a back and dribbled one home to cut the deficit back to seven points at the final break. It was the first goal with the breeze, and whilst the Swans were within striking distance, the Thunder now had the wind, and the home crowd to try and drive them home.

It did not take long for Phillips to match Bartlett with two majors, winning a fortunate free kick against a very unlucky Jess Cox in the tackle, to slot the set shot and extend the lead out to 13 points just three minutes into the final term. The final stanza was highly contested as both defences refused to yield, though the ball was exactly where Peel wanted it – in the Thunder’s forward half. Phillips was asserting herself on the contest with a massive contested grab midway through the quarter, but she kept the door ajar for the Swans with a miss to the left.

Off the subsequent kickout, Bartlett ran down an unsuspecting Aimee Ralph to earn a set shot, but that too missed, and the lead was out to 15 points. With the time winding down, Peel was able to really lock the ball inside the forward half for long periods of time, and as if it was a fitting exclamation mark on the win, a dangerous inside 50 from youngster Gracie Fenton put to the advantage of Phillips who snapped with the last kick of the day for a goal to seal the 21-point win, 5.6 (36) to 2.3 (15).

There was a great mix of youth and experience on show, with Duffy, Phillips and Bartlett clearly the three best on the ground, as Roberts looked dangerous at high half-forward, Verrier covering plenty of ground, and Davidson and Anderson in the back 50. Fenton found a heap of the ball through midfield, and whilst she did bite off more than she could chew at times, was willing to take the game on. For the Swans, Mikayla Hyde was a standout with Gelmi, Cain and McGuire all among the best, and Henry holding up in defence, and Stribley looking to run off limited chances. Sarah Lakay also really impressed in the opening half with her work through the ruck.

PEEL THUNDER 2.0 | 2.4 | 3.4 | 5.6 (36)
SWAN DISTRICTS 0.1 | 1.1 | 2.3 | 2.3 (15)

GOALS:

Peel Thunder: K. Phillips 3, K. Bartlett 2.
Swan Districts: B. Webb, M. Hyde.

BEST:

Peel Thunder: S. Duffy, K. Phillips, K. Bartlett, E. Roberts, C. Davidson, S. Verrier
Swan Districts: M Hyde, T. Stribley, E. Gelmi, S. Cain, E. McGuire

 

Picture credit: WAFL

2021 WAFLW Grand Final Preview

SECOND time’s a charm in the WAFL Women’s, as Peel Thunder and Swan Districts are finally set to square off in this year’s Grand Final. Having been rescheduled from last week due to West Australia’s lockdown, Saturday afternoon’s decider will see crowds allowed in attendance to watch this season’s top two ranked sides battle it out for premiership glory.

We run you through all the key players, figures, and fixtures in our Grand Final preview.

2021 WAFLW GRAND FINAL

Peel Thunder vs. Swan Districts
Saturday June 11, 3:15pm
David Grays Arena, Mandurah

Records:
Peel – 2nd, 10-5, 154.64%
Swans – 1st 14-1, 211.83%

Finals:
Peel (1-0) – def. Swan Districts by 5
Swans (1-1) – def. by Peel Thunder by 5 | def. Subiaco by 38

Last 5:
Peel – 3-2
Swans – 3-2

2021 H2H:
Round 3 – Peel Thunder 5.8 (38) def. by Swan Districts 10.6 (66)
Round 11 – Swan Districts 6.6 (42) def. Peel Thunder 6.5 (41)
Round 14 – Peel Thunder 6.3 (39) def. Swan Districts 2.6 (18)
Finals Wk 1 – Swan Districts 0.11 (11) def. by Peel Thunder 2.4 (16)

Saturday’s clash marks the fifth time Peel and Swans have met in season 2021, with the ledger squared at 2-2. Swan Districts, the minor premiers, got the wood over the reigning premiers early with wins in Rounds 3 and 11, before the Thunder proved they could peak at the right team with redemptive victories in Round 14 and the first week of finals.

The latter result saw Peel advance straight to the big dance, with the club seeking to win consecutive premierships from second place. Meanwhile, Swans made good on their second chance, qualifying for the season’s final game after a 38-point win over Subiaco.

Looking at either sides’ last five outings, and the only blemish on Swans’ latest efforts have been made by their weekend opponents. In fact, the Black Ducks’ sole loss of the regular season came at the hands of Peel. The Thunder, also 3-2 over their last five games, have suffered those losses to fellow finalists Subiaco and Claremont. While the defending champions look ominous at their best, Leigh MatthewsPredator-inspired adage goes “if it bleeds, we can kill it” – and Swan Districts will likely have that in mind.

Both sides have also proven they can score big this year. Only confirming just how evenly matched they are, both finished the season with 716 points-for – almost 200 points more than the next best team. Needless to say, whichever set of forwards can better capitalise on their opportunities will have a massive say on this contest, though neither side can be counted out given the class afield and quick-scoring potential.

THE EXPERIENCE SPECTRUM

As has been the case all year, these two teams will be littered with players on both ends of the experience spectrum. AFLW-listed stars and Under 19 state squad members headline some of the high-end talent afield, making for intriguing team dynamics and versatile structures.

Peel boasts an all-Fremantle AFLW centreline, with star midfielder Sabreena Duffy at the heart of the side while Sarah Verrier and Katie Jayne Grieve line up on either wing. The extended Swans squad also features a trio of Dockers, namely Stephanie Cain (half-forward), Bianca Webb (rover), and Mikayla Hyde (wing). Brianna Hyde has been named on the opposite wing, as one of the many promising Under 19 state representatives to watch.

It is hard to look past Peel powerhouse Ella Roberts as the main event in that department, given she is already a proven finals match-winner at WAFLW level. The 16-year-old was also named her state’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) during this year’s national carnival, and will spearhead her side’s attack alongside Kate Bartlett. The speedy Aisha Wright has been named alongside Roberts at half-forward, while AFLW Draft Combine invitee Beth Schilling features on the interchange with Jaide Britton.

Bella Mann and Emily Gunton (both emergencies) are other youngsters to have rolled through the Thunder’s line-up, while All Australian midfielder Courtney Rowley is set to miss through injury. Tajah Griffiths, Jade Briggs, Naomi Wilson are Peel’s remaining Under 19 squad members to miss.

The Swans squad is littered with young talent, and bookended by Sarah Lakay (full forward) and Isabella Edgley (full back). Melisha Hardy and Nyra Anderson join Edgley in defence, while Dana East takes her spot in the centre in a tricky match-up with Duffy. The Under 19 crop is rounded out by Emma Nanut, Tara Stribley, and Naomi Barker, who will all hope to make the cut from a nine-player extended bench.

Image Credit: @WAFLOfficial via Twitter

2021 Under 19 AFLW All-Australian team announced

THE NAB AFL Women’s Under 19 Championship All-Australian Team has just been announced with a number of talented players making the cut after exceptional performances throughout the Championships.

There is a strong mix of talent from across the country but it is Victoria once again that holds the monopoly with a combined 11 players named in the team. There are six players hailing from Vic Country and five from Vic Metro, a testament to the strength of the Victorian developmental pathways despite a wealth of players missing last year due to the COVID-19 enforced lockdown.

Western Australia is also well represented with three player named, with youngster Ella Roberts leading the pack and well and truly making a name for herself despite only being the ripe age of 16-years-old. She also took out the 2021 NAB Player of the Championships Medal given her star power and impressive performance against Vic Metro where she suffered leather poisoning racking up 31 touches, six inside 50s and two goals. South Australia and the Allies also have three representatives apiece while Queensland managed the two.

It is no surprise to see the likes of Georgie Prespakis, Charlie Rowbottom, Maggie Harmer, Teagan Levi, Jess Doyle, Courtney Rowley, Zoe Prowse, Tahlia Gillard and Tara Slender named in the side given they are all 2020-21 AFLW Academy members. All nine players showcased their wares throughout the tournament, putting their best foot forward and doing no harm to their AFLW Draft potential in the process.

Chloe Leonard is the only top-ager named in the 18-player squad while there are a number of bottom-agers with the likes of Roberts, Lauren Young, Cynthia Hamilton and Paige Scott who made their way into the team, despite not being eligible for the draft this year. Although on the younger side, Hamilton took home the MVP award for the Allies highlighting the bright future the youngster has and her sheer dominance throughout the Championships.

AA Team:

B: Chloe Leonard – Isadora McLeay – Jaide Anthony
HB: Maggie Harmer – Lauren Young – Annie Lee
C: Aurora Smith – Teagan Levi – Courtney Rowley
HF: Jess Doyle – Ella Roberts – Stella Reid
F: Paige Scott – Cynthia Hamilton – Georgia Campbell
R: Zoe Prowse – Charlie Rowbottom – Georgie Prespakis
INT: Makaela Tuhakaraina – Tahlia Gillard – Tara Slender – Zoe Venning

WAFLW preview – Preliminary Final: Swans and Lions to battle it out for grand final spot

TWO teams are one win away from reaching the 2021 West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s Grand Final. The top of the table Swan Districts went down to Peel Thunder for the second time in a fortnight, forcing the Swans to utilise their double chance against a Subiaco side that turned the tables on Claremont a fortnight earlier. Now the Lions will hope to reach another grand final on the back of peaking at the right time of year and try and seek revenge on the Thunder who claimed their maiden premiership last year.

Focusing on Swan Districts first, the minor premiers will be keen to make sure they capitalise on a strong regular season, and have named an extended bench for Sunday’s clash. Fi Boucher adds extra experience to the team, with Naomi Baker a talent to keep an eye on also named back in the side. Shannon Matthews, Abbygail Bushby and Renee Holwill round out the five names in consideration for the final side, with only Imahra Cameron out of the team for the clash. For Subiaco, Kia Buckley is an important in, joining Tiah Toth and Madison Dodd as the other inclusions, with no omissions to speak of yet.

The midfield battle will be a fascinating one with young ruck Sarah Lakay testing herself up against Jessica Ritchie, whilst a couple of AFL Women’s players in Bianca Webb and Hayley Miller could go head-to-head. Dana East and Jessica Cox round out the Swan Districts’ onball brigade, looking to lock horns with their more experienced opponents in Tarnica Golisano and Lara Filocamo. The Swans’ midfield is star-studded with the experience of Mikayla Hyde and Steph Cain on the wings, whilst Maggie MacLachlan is another elite level player running around for the Lions.

Inside 50 for the Lions, Amy Hunt, McKenzie Dowrick and Jamie Rust are targets teammates can look for, up against the likes of Emily McGuire, Aimee Ralph and Eliza Gelmi. With young guns Melisha Hardy and Jaime Henry also back there, the Swans’ defence is mighty impressive. Similarly up forward, Sarah Wielstra and Taylah Edwards know how to hit the scoreboard, with the run of Tara Stribley and class of Nyra Anderson also providing different dynamics in there. For Subiaco, Caitlin Walker did a good job on Ella Roberts last week and will be up for another big job in the preliminary final, whilst Jayme Harken, Claire Ortlepp and Tayla Thorogood are ever-reliable.

The depth coming off the bench could feature teenagers Brianna Hyde and Kloe Taylor for the Swans, with Buckley the one to watch for Subiaco. With reliable defender Lauren Osborne also capable of locking down on an opponent, the Swans have no shortage of players to call upon to do jobs. Based on the sides, whilst Subiaco have a strong team and are deserving to be in the final three, Swan Districts have stars across every line, and it is hard to see them dropping this game based on their regular season form.

Picture credit: WAFL

WAFLW Eye-catchers: Week 1 Finals

WEEK one of the West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s finals series was done and run over the weekend, and we took a look at a few of the players who received AFL Womens’ Draft Combine invites that caught the eye, particularly focusing on a mix of AFL Women’s Draft Combine invites and State Academy members, including those Under 17s. Here’s a selection of top performers with the notes opinion of the individual author.

SWAN DISTRICTS vs. PEEL THUNDER

By: Brooke Hards

Swan Districts:

#2 Tara Stribley

Stribley started the game with a strong run and carry along the right side of the wing with a quick kick inside their 50m. Third quarter we saw the speedy winger using her footy smarts making her way into their 50m that resulted in kicking a point but from smart play to try and snap it across her body.

#3 Dana East

A strong tackling inside midfielder, puts her head down in ball ups and tries to win it, fast when on her feet and can easily burst through packs. Throughout the game she showed off her clean hands to be able to distribute from the inside to the outside and keep the ball moving in transition. Whilst she has had bigger games, it is hard not to notice the talented midfielder who played her first WAFL Women’s final with her speed and toughness at the contest.

#16 Nyra Anderson

Outstanding hard tackler that brought almost every opponent to the ground, but is as fair as they come, a very respectful player against her opponents. She got caught high at one stage inside 50 and had a set shot on goal, but like her teammates uncharacteristically missed the set shot. Still applied good pressure when near the ball carrier.

#33 Sarah Lakay

The 186cm talent dominated the ruck with her tall vertical leap that was able to punch the ball forward giving the midfielders more of a chance to win it clearly out of the centre. Whilst being tall, Lakay was also very handy at ground level where she was able to hit it and make a contest if it did not go her team’s way.

#22 Kloe Taylor

A young talent with plenty of upside, Taylor has certainly caught the eye this year in the WAFL Women’s. Against Peel Thunder, Taylor showcased that she is a lovely mark and a great right footer who can hit targets with ease going forward.

Peel Thunder:

#5 Gracie Fenton

Good use of space where she can control both sides of the ground playing through the midfield. Using her endurance to be everywhere the ball is, her ability to keep working hard throughout the match a major key factor for herself and her team. One to watch for the future.

#8 Ella Roberts

There were a number of plays that showed how Roberts is a smart footballer. She won a free kick and popped it to her teammate on top of their 50m. Her first, second and third efforts inside their 50m trying to win the ball to have a shot at scoring, picked up the ball cleanly in their 50m with 30 seconds left in the first term, hands it off out in front with Katie Jayne Grieve running past who gets the hands and kicks their only goal for both sides in the first quarter. Early in the second term, Roberts got tackled whilst being able to hold herself up and bangs it on the boot close to the flank of their 50m and gives her team a scoring opportunity. Whilst she was not able to have the huge numbers she has had in the past due to being carefully watched, she still stood out with another impressive games.

#24 Aisha Wright

First quarter a free kick went to Wright who has a great penetrating kick and was able to pop it on the top of a group of her teammate’s heads. Whilst not a huge ball-winner, Wright is a pressure player who continues to look dangerous inside 50.

CLAREMONT vs. SUBIACO

By: Peter Williams

Claremont:

#15 Tessa Doumanis

The crafty forward who kicked a couple of goals last week early might not have had the same going in this game, but the wet conditions made life difficult for the left-footer. She set the tone early with a hard lead in the match, and had to work up to half-back in order to get near the ball as Subiaco dominated the early stages. A late 50m penalty in the first term almost cost her side but it was luckily only one behind. Her second quarter was more promising to start with, as she cleanly scooped it off the deck to open up inside 50, then missed a set shot from a tight angle which went to the left for one behind. She had another snap in the third term off a good one-two inside 50 but her snap also just missed. Taking a strong mark inside 50 midway through the third term, Doumanis was close to the boundary line but opted to pass off and it just fell short with the defence onto it, spoiling it away. She had another quick kick inside 50 late in the game but could only just get her boot to it due to the pressure.

#18 Amy Franklin

Having to wait up the opposite end to the ball in the first term, Franklin still had a clever tap in the opening quarter after being under pressure leading up to half-back, using good footy nous to not take possession and give her teammates a chance to run onto it. Her second quarter started with a bang, kicking a goal two and a half minutes into the term after nudging her opponent under the ball well in the one-on-one and running into an open goal. Midway through the term, Franklin was thrown into the ruck, where she spent substantial time throughout the game doing so, then when she went forward fared alright, matching up well with Caitlin Walker. She got caught behind her opponent early in the third term, but then got in front for a flying attempt she could not quite bring down in the quarter, then did a similar thing early in the fourth term only to be spoiled. She won a free kick late in the game and hit up Kate Orme well. Overall an okay game but not favourable to tall forwards.

#26 Matilda Dyke

Kept her opponents in check which is all you can expect of a key defender. Did not need to win much of the ball, going for a big fly at half-back midway through the opening term, and then applying good defensive pressure in the back half. She chopped out in the ruck occasionally, and whilst she only had a few featuring moments, she was always roaming around ready to present for her teammates.

 

Picture credit: WAFL

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 Player Focus: Ella Roberts (Peel Thunder)

PEEL Thunder prospect Ella Roberts is already a well known quantity, establishing herself at senior level in the Thunder’s 2020 premiership side, and earning her state’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award at this year’s Under 19 National Championships. The 16-year-old is already a good size at 175cm and boasts rare talent, able to excel as a forward target or on-ball with her athleticism and clean hands.

Roberts has again proven a key figure at WAFLW level for Peel in 2021, with her side on the eve of a finals campaign as the second-ranked side. She turned it on early and battled through a knock to claim 25 disposals and a goal in the Thunder’s most recent outing, a loss against Claremont. We put her impressive Round 15 performance under the Player Focus microscope.

POCKET PROFILE

Ella Roberts
Peel Thunder/Western Australia

DOB: 17/12/2004
Height: 175cm
Position: Forward/Midfielder

Source: WAFL

2021 WAFLW, Round 15 | Claremont 6.5 (41) def. Peel Thunder 4.8 (32)

Player Focus: #8 Ella Roberts (Peel Thunder)

Quarter-by-quarter:

Q1:

Starting in the near-permanent forward post she dominated throughout the day, Roberts was in ominous form during the opening quarter. She pressed high up the ground to present as Peel’s centre half-forward, making the best of whatever service she received with wickedly clean hands at ground level and combative intent.

The 16-year-old’s ability to swoop on the ball at speed, especially off the deck, and grab it cleanly was outstanding early on. She tried to manufacture space upon gathering but when opponents were on her hammer, she released quick handballs to keep Peel moving forward via outsider runners.

Her kicking at speed was outstanding, booting numerous passes inside 50 to the advantage of her forwards, who could not quite snaffle up a series of marks. In the air, she judged the ball beautifully and recovered best to be first to the loose pill.

Roberts capped her wonderful individual quarter with a highlight-reel goal, chasing up her own pass inside 50 to mop up off the ground, side-step a defender and blast the ball home from 40m for her side’s opening major.

It was no coincidence that Roberts’ most productive term also saw the Thunder sneak ahead at the first break, though the lead proved only momentary. The youngster finished with 12 disposals (six kicks, six handballs), a bunch of inside 50s and a brilliant goal.

Q2:

While she did not quite hit the heights of the previous quarter as Claremont began to get on top, Roberts still managed to move into all the right spots and compete with a magnificent air of confidence.

One of her best moments came at half-forward, where she sharked the ball from between a couple of less-assured Claremont defenders, before backing her pace and burning towards forward 50.

She was not afforded the same volume of opportunities in the front half, but still looked to link into attack and took her first mark of the day on the 50m arc, proving strong in the air despite heat from two opponents.

Roberts’ second term yielded four disposals (three kicks, one handball), one mark and two inside 50s.

Q3:

It is fair to say that Roberts was in the wars during the third quarter, battling a knock to her wrist in the closing stages.

She sustained it on the leap up to a marking contest on the wing, going down innocuously but looking in quite some pain and going off. Almost comically, she gave away an unlucky last touch free kick, bumped into an opponent, and smothered with the same hand shortly after.

In a show of her toughness, Roberts rose for a nice overhead mark late in the term having introduced that part of her game to the contest earlier on.

While indifferent delivery, heavy pressure and perhaps fatigue hindered Roberts clean handling, she did produce one outstanding passage with a swift gather and precise pass at full tilt, hitting a teammate inside 50.

Roberts finished with three disposals (all kicks), including two marks and two inside 50s, proving she can be productive with limited looks.

Q4:

Roberts battled on to run out the game strongly, even earning a late run through midfield. With the result still up for grabs, she looked to make things happen but was caught for a rare holding the ball free kick against, in the early stages.

Still, she carried great intent until the final siren, with her desperate run-down tackle on a breaking Mhicca Carter showing just that.

From that moment, Roberts became more prominent around the contest as she moved into the on-ball division, trying to use the ball positively and get creative with her movement.

Her lone centre bounce attendance came in the second-last minute, and Roberts rounded out a trying performance by adding six disposals (four kicks, two handballs) and a couple of tackles.

Closing thoughts…

It is crazy to think that Roberts is still a year away from being draft eligible, and that she still has so much development left in her as a December birth. The 16-year-old can produce truly special moments and did so in this match, with her first term feats making for must-watch football. Her one-grab ability bodes well for more midfield time, though she is also so effective as a forward target who can not only crash packs and clunk marks, but be the first to recover the ground ball. From there, her smooth coverage of the ground and unbelievably slick use by foot at full tilt is elite. With so many plaudits already and unbelievable confidence at senior level, Roberts is a class above her peers at the moment as the best prospect in next year’s draft pool.