Tag: emily bennett

WAFLW Round 1 wrap: Peel Thunders to opening round victory

REIGNING premiers Peel Thunder unfurled the flag and then unleashed their potential – albeit after a comical mishap in hindsight – to win by 32 points over a vastly-different East Fremantle side on the weekend. Opening up the West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s competition, the Thunder and Sharks were set to battle in repeat of last year’s preliminary final. On both occasions the Thunder emerged victorious, and this time it was 8.7 (55) to 3.5 (23).

After celebrating their 2020 WAFL Women’s flag in front of home fans, the Thunder players were so delirious they actually went to the wrong end of the field, with the defenders and forwards needing to switch and re-evaluate. Within 46 seconds, East Fremantle had a goal on the board through returning Sharks talent, Rachel Ashley. It would be the first of two goals for the talented utility who was moved forward after previously playing in defence.

After the first minute of mayhem for the Thunder, the reigning premiers steadied and took full control of the match, starting with a clever snap from Kate Bartlett and then one from star bottom-ager Ella Roberts. Having announced herself in last year’s grand final, the 16-year-old again came to the party for Peel, booting two ridiculous goals – one from long-range into the breeze and another in the second term under pressure tight on the boundary – and having an array of eye-catching moments.

East Fremantle locked down on her in the second half to limit her influence, but they could not contain the entire team, as Roberts was just one of three multiple goalkickers. Bartlett slotted three – including a final term ripper that was arguably the goal of the day to seal the match – and fellow youngster Jade Briggs booted two. With Ashley icing up a hamstring in the second half, the Sharks struggled to find avenues to goal, and aside from Ann McMahon kicking a consolation major in the fourth, went a full 36 minutes without a goal.

Roberts was clearly among the best-on in the first half before being tagged in the second half, with fellow youngsters Briggs, Courtney Rowley and Beth Schilling all showing some serious talent. From a more experienced point of view, Katie-Jayne Grieve and Nel Baxter were also impressive, as was Tanisha Anderson coming off half-back.

For the Sharks, Kate Inglis-Hodge stood out, with Amber Kinnane, Sharon Wong, Hayley O’Donnell and debutant Mylee Leitch having some impressive moments. While East Fremantle showed some potential, the loss of their experience due to AFL Women’s showed a team bringing through plenty of new faces.

The other two matches provided a couple of thrillers as Swan Districts ground out a narrow six-point win over Claremont in hot conditions yesterday afternoon. The Swans got up 2.6 (18) to 1.6 (12) at Steel Blue Oval, with the teams both going goalless in the second half. Claremont did hit back with three behinds to one, but the Tigers not taking their chances really hurt.

Young gun Bella Edgley showed some promising signs with a couple of second quarter goals – one from a set shot and another from a tight angle – to be the chief destroyer for the home team, while AFL Women’s Academy member Amy Franklin showed off her athleticism to get goalside and take plenty of grass on her way to slamming home the opening major of the day.

Franklin was a standout up forward as a target and roaming up the ground, whilst Jess Low was everywhere on the day. Emily Bennett had a great day out for the Tigers, while Rachel Ortlepp and captain Ella Smith also won their fair share of the footy despite the loss.

Swan Districts had a real even team performance across the board, with Bianca Webb and Mikayla Hyde showing off their AFL Women’s experience with great defensive efforts and athleticism respectively. Youngsters Tara Stribley and Emma Nanut had some great moments, as did 15-year-old Jamie Henry, while Emily McGuire was rock solid as usual in the back half, and Sarah Wielstra provided a tall target inside 50.

Meanwhile an inaccurate Subiaco escaped with the win against a fast-finishing and much improved South Fremantle. While the Bulldogs did not manage to breakthrough for their maiden victory, they certainly gave the Lions a scare, piling on three goals to three behinds in the final term, only to fall short by three points.

Casey Byrne was the standout goalscorer on the day, slotting home three majors for the losing side, while Ella Higgins and Lauren Vecchio both added goals to their name. Maggie MacLachlan looked to have benefited from a preseason at AFL Women’s level, kicking two majors for the winners, while Amy Hunt and Jamie Rust both slotted one apiece.

WAFL Women’s Round 1 results:

Peel Thunder 8.7 (55) defeated East Fremantle 3.5 (23)
Subiaco 4.13 (37) defeated South Fremantle 5.4 (34)
Swan Districts 2.6 (18) defeated Claremont 1.6 (12)

Picture credit: Owen Davies / Peel Thunder

Claremont prepared for 2021 despite shortened preseason

WITH a hugely interrupted 2020 season in the books, the Western Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s returns on February 20, and Claremont Women’s are looking to step up their game from last season despite a shorter preseason in the books. Head coach Andrew Di Loreto  – who is also backline coach with the West Coast Eagles AFL Women’s side – is looking forward to the fresh start despite a couple of bumps along the way – including last week’s five day statewide lockdown – and is confident his side is prepared for a new season of WAFLW action.

“Yeah, it’s (preseason) good, we’re really happy with how we’re progressing so far. It’s obviously hard to gauge because we haven’t played anybody yet, but I’m personally really happy with how we’re going to this point in a shortened sort of format, obviously with the WAFLW being brought forward,” Di Loreto said.

“We had some areas we wanted to focus on in terms of evolving the way that we play. We’ve obviously got a bit of a shorter run up but with all that in mind I’m really happy with the commitment level and the development of our girls, I’m really keen to see them in action and obviously have a test and see where we’re at in a couple of weeks.”

While lockdown reduced training opportunities and preparation for the upcoming season, Di Loreto said that the priority was ensuring good habits were made and individual training expectations were met with just the one hour of exercise allowed per day, while the players’ mental health was also a big focus.

“I feel like we’ve been on a bit of a roll over the preseason, the vibe has been really good so it’s unfortunate that you know, you sort of break that good habit, but by the same token, we’ve taken it as an opportunity for the girls to obviously just abide by government regulation, and get their hour of exercise each day,” Di Loreto explained. “We’ve been touching base and checking in with them and making sure they’re in a good space and getting the hour’s exercise, but otherwise we haven’t been overly pushy with the five day lockdown when we’re just obviously waiting today to get final word that we can engage the girls as soon as we can and start to plan for the season in a couple of weeks.”

While Di Loreto has a defensive background, the Claremont coach says his side is building on “a really attacking brand”, with a mix of youth and experience making for an exciting squad.

I don’t really want to be known as a defensive team even though that’s sort of my background as a coach,” Di Loreto said. “I think there’s strong elements that need to be present in a good team, in terms of defence, but if anybody’s watching Claremont Women’s play I’d hope they would be able to see that we take the game on and we’re an attacking team.”

“When the footy is in our defence, we want to be an aggressive defensive team where we know we take the game on from that position and, you know, in any other part of the ground.”

Despite a shorter preseason, Di Loreto remarked on the development of a couple of players who have really pushed themselves heading into 2021.

“There are a couple of girls who have stood out to me in the shortened preseason, our reigning best and fairest Sasha Goronova, I feel like she’s going to the next level, so she is 19, I think going on 20 this year, so I think she’s just really starting to come into her own,” Di Loreto said.

Jessica Low is another one who I feel has been on the brink of putting herself in a really good position to get drafted and she’s trained really well, and probably the last one to mention is our captain Ella Smith, she’s just led from the front across the preseason with the standard that she applies herself and she was really strong for us in 2020, and I’m really confident she’ll be really strong again in 2021.”

Meanwhile, some 18-year-old talents are also on the rise, with Di Loreto pointing out the likes of AFLW Academy member Amy Franklin and Emily Bennett, with the duo coming up through the WA pathways into the league side again this season, and leading the charge as a number of talented 15 and 16-year-olds flood the Claremont Under 18s side.  Franklin will sit out a few weeks with a minor foot injury, but Di Loreto is confident the 180cm key forward is set for another solid season.

“She hasn’t been able to train fully to this point but someone like an Amy Franklin who’s in the AFLW Academy is probably someone to look for… Her injury is nothing more than a personal foot problem that she’ll be good to go in the next couple of weeks and I think she’s an exciting prospect I’d like people to know about, another one is a young lady called Emily Bennett, both girls only 18 years of age.”

“We’re really lucky our Under 18s has some young up and comers as well. Young, playing some league football at this point, we have a really strong 15 and 16-year-old group of girls. But they’re exciting for our club and hopeful draft prospects in the years to come.”

While the side’s 2020 campaign saw three wins and four losses, it produced a couple of draftees with young gun Bella Lewis and former West Coast Fever netballer Andrea Gilmore both getting the nod from the West Coast Eagles ahead of season 2021.

“We’re really proud of them. They worked really hard and we’re just a small part in their journey,” Di Loreto said. “At the end of the day, it comes down to the girls and what it really does show to our Under 18s girls is that this is real, and  someone like Bella Lewis who has literally just turned 18, you know, being drafted to West Coast, and only playing in the Under 18 system as recent as two years ago, and still being eligible last year but obviously being at the point of her development to play some league footy.”

Selected at pick three overall and pick one from the Western Australia draft pool, Lewis may not have played much of the 2020 season due to an ongoing ankle injury, but more than proved that her commitment and work-rate could propel her to the top level, earning a Round 1 AFLW debut.

“I think it just really shows our girls that that link and that pathway is there. You know, there’s no locked doors. They’ve put in the work and the opportunities will come. So yeah, it’s been really positive, we’re proud of those girls over the last couple of years that have gotten to that stage and fingers crossed we can continue that.

“From my point of view and our club’s point of view we just want to create an environment where they can be their best and hopefully unlock their potential and clubs at the next level see that and they get an opportunity.

“My goal is to empower the girls to be confident enough to take the game on in any position and understand whatever circumstance presents itself in any given game and then attack it from there.”

Picture credit: Tony Lendrum Photography

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

Peel Thunders to second spot and first finals appearance

PEEL Thunder has powered to their first finals series in the West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s competition, and left Claremont as the collateral damage, winning by nine points in a tight tussle on the weekend. Sitting in fifth coming into the round, but four points and percentage essentially separating second from fifth in various ways, all the teams were capable to making finals with only one to fall out. In this case, it was Peel’s 5.5 (35) to 3.8 (26) win over the then third placed Tigers to book a spot in the post-season series.

Claremont had the better start of the sides, using the wind to advantage and dominating time in forward half. By the first break, the Tigers would have six scoring shots to none on the scoreboard, but led by just 11 points, not capitalising on their chances as best they could. Both teams were missing some key players for the match, but it was Mhicca Carter who in the ninth minute of the term, got her side on the board from a free kick, playing on and snapping around her body to catch the Thunder defence off guard. It had capped off a strong first half of the term that up until that point, had not eventuated on the scoreboard.

Ella Smith was willing her team on multiple occasions, with Sasha Goranova and Brooke Whyte combining on a number of opportunities for the Tigers whilst the Thunder defence has to be given credit for holding up under heat. Tanisha Anderson was superb, particularly in the opening minutes playing off half-back, while Bella Mann on debut was lively, and the likes of Cassie Davidson and Ebony Dowson were doing well deep in defence. The Thunder were fortunate that a number of chances went begging including a late loose ball which saw the athletic Amy Franklin run onto the ball but it just escape her grasp and roll through for a behind much to the relief of Peel defender, Whitney Benson.

Turning their game around, the Thunder began to build their way back into the contest which started with a terrific Shannon Whale spoil at half-back on Whyte in opening minute. Anderson and Jade Briggs were working well in transition between defence to attack, while Laura Pugh was holding up at half-back for Claremont. On more than a number of occasions Sarah Garstone saved the day on the last line, walking it across the goalline off a tricky bounce. Soon Hannah Church got involved with a couple of shots for the Thunder missing a chance from the boundary line, but then working hard to find space 30m out on a better angle off a Tigers turnover to mark and goal at the 12-minute mark.

With Peel now on the board, it was not long before they added another with a free kick to Kira Phillips inside 50, and Kate Bartlett took the chance to play on and fire on the run to extend the lead to five points on the edge of half-time. The work of Whale, Bartlett and Ella Roberts was swinging the momentum in the home team’s favour, and while Emily Bennett and Krstel Petrevski were impressing through the midfield, it was the Thunder who were on top at the main break.

It was evident from early in the third that Peel had already adapted to kicking against the wind better in this quarter compared to the first term, and attacked from the outset. They had an early chance after an inside 50 from Chloe Wrigley to set up Krystal Carter, though the shot drifted. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise however, as Greta McKinley was paid a free kick on the line and with Bartlett hanging a couple of metres around, the AFL Women’s experienced forward knew what to do with the quick handball and snap around her body for her second.

Claremont was defending bravely, and then went on the attack, with Goranova running down Anderson at half-forward to pile on the pressure inside 50. Peel managed to clear the danger zone, but only as far as Tessa Doumanis who spotted a loose Petrevski all alone 40m straight in front. The Melbourne AFL Women’s listed player made no mistake in the eighth minute mark, kicking Claremont’s first goal since the opening term. Smith almost had a couple of chances herself close to goal after a rare Franklin set shot fell short, but a desperate Davidson rugby-tried it across the line for a rushed behind.

Peel took the momentum from the defensive efforts to again rush the ball forward and Krystal Carter had another chance from 40m which again fell short, but brought Roberts into the game with enough air to allow the talented forward to leap and pull down a grab. She made no mistake from 15 metres out and goaled for a 10-point lead. It could have been cut to less than a kick in the final moments of the term, but once again Anderson was there to save the day and cleared to safety.

Holding a handy buffer at the break it was Peel’s game to lose. The Thunder just needed to hold on for another 20 minutes and they would be through to their first ever finals series. Chewing 12 minutes of the clock by both teams defences standing up, the Thunder were gaining more confident by the minute. They just needed to create contest after contest and ensure the Tigers could not get their running game going. Whale provided another goal-saving moment when Mhicca Carter bit off a touch too much by fending off and sidestepping a number of Peel players before trying to do the same with Whale who stood her ground and won the free at half-back. It was one of those game-changing moments that summarised Peel’s efforts throughout the season.

Then despite the best efforts of Smith and Garstone in Claremont’s back 50, it was Phillips who fittingly drove the final nail in the coffin with a set shot goal in the 13th minute. Now the Tigers needed three goals in seven minutes, more than double their score to that point. They did break through with a clever snap for Mhicca Carter’s second of the day with two minutes remaining, but ultimately barring a miracle, their time had run out. Roberts had a massive run-down tackle in the final 30 seconds and when Whale charged off half-back to clear it for the Thunder it was fitting that Peel had charged into its first finals series.

PEEL THUNDER 0.0 | 2.5 | 4.5 | 5.5 (35)
CLAREMONT 1.5 | 1.6 | 2.7 | 3.8 (26)

GOALS:

Peel: K. Bartlett 2, H. Church, E. Roberts, K. Phillips.
Claremont: M. Carter 2, K. Petrevski.

ADC BEST:

Peel: S. Whale, T. Anderson, K. Bartlett, H. Church, E. Roberts
Claremont: S. Goranova, K. Petrevski, E. Smith, M. Carter, E. Bennett

In other matches, South Fremantle played out of its skin against top of the table Subiaco in what was by far its most impressive performance to date. While the Bulldogs ended the season winless, they showed great signs against the minor premiers, going down by just 14 points in the final round. They conceded just one goal in the second half whilst booting three themselves, though the Lions still got the job done, 6.11 (47) to 5.3 (33). Subiaco coach Amy Lavell made a surprise return from retirement to boot three goals in the win, with Tiah Haynes, Aimee Schmidt and Maggie Maclachlan kicking the other majors. Tarnica Golisano and Holly Hyder were nominated as the Lions best, whilst the Bulldogs had five individual goalkickers. Tahlia McRoberts, Lauren Vecchio and Kiara Templeton all impressed in the losing side, while Fremantle ruck Mim Strom got a game in before the end of the season.

In the crucial season-on-the-line clash, reigning premiers East Fremantle kept their 2020 hopes alive with the Sharks getting the job done in a three-point thriller over Swan Districts. Ironically the result meant the teams go at it next week again in a do-or-die semi-final, and the Sharks will hope to start better (goalless in the first half), whilst the Swans will hope to finish better (one goal after quarter time). Alex Williams, Katelyn Catalano and Gabby O’Sullivan all booted majors for the Sharks, as Ruby Schleicher and Maddy Ross stepped up to be named among the best. For the Swans, it was Ashley Sharp, Brianna Hyde and Mikayla Morrison who converted opportunities in front of goal, while Eliza Gelmi and Aimee Ralph were nominated as Swan Districts’ best.

WAFL Women’s weekend preview: Round 2 – Tigers and Swans to face off in exciting clash

FOLLOWING the conclusion of the West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s opening round, the six sides go to battle again this weekend as teams aim to back up from the first weekend of competitive football in 10 months. The feature game this weekend which will be live streamed is between Claremont and Swan Districts.

 

CLAREMONT vs. SWAN DISTRICTS
Sunday, July 26, 2pm
Revo Fitness Stadium

In what is anticipated to be an entertaining contest, Round 1 winners Swan Districts and Round 1 losers, Claremont go at it in a telling clash early in the season. The Tigers fell two points short of knocking off Subiaco, while last year’s runner-up got off to the ideal start with a win over one of the main contenders in Peel Thunder.

Not an easy venture on the road, the Swans will be aiming to take the home ground advantage away early with a strong start. These teams played a remarkable four times last season – including in the first week of the finals – and Swan Districts won all four. The last two victories were one-sided wins, though the only clash at this venue saw the Tigers get the closest they did all season, going down by only 14 points.

Claremont might have the better team balance overall, but it is hard to pick a winner in this clash. Emily Bennett and Amy Franklin were able to debut last week having come across on permit from West Perth with the Falcons not competing in the top grade this year. Swan Districts were able to blood a couple of 15-year-olds in Round 1 in Tara Stribley and Olivia Cripps who did not look out of their depth.

Swan Districts is a young side, with a massive 12 players under 18 in Round 1 that picked up the four points, while Claremont still has some good young talent, but also some much needed experience which makes the Tigers a really competitive outfit.

Players to watch:

Jacinta Valentini (Claremont)

Having come through the West Australian pathways, Valentini is a talented player who was not too far off those who were drafted a couple of years back. She had a really solid appearance last week in Claremont’s narrow loss to Subiaco and looms as a key player in Claremont’s side. Others who stood out in the defeat were Sasha Goronova, Rachel Ortlepp and Jess Low.

Mikayla Hyde (Swan Districts)

The clever forward who can play further up the ground was able to kick a goal for the Swans last week and is capable of some special moments. She has high upside and is one who stands out from a junior level perspective who can impact each game with her goal sense. She is far from the only one though, with Nyra Anderson, Shanae Davison, Mikayla Morrison and versatile veteran, Fi Boucher amongst the players to keep an eye on.

 

SOUTH FREMANTLE vs. PEEL THUNDER
Sunday, July 26, 1pm
Fremantle Community Bank Oval

After a baptism of fire in Round 1, South Fremantle returns to Fremantle Community Bank Oval to host Peel Thunder in the first game of the weekend. The Bulldogs were no match for reigning premiers, East Fremantle as they failed to score in an 88-point defeat. Like any new side, structures and cohesion will take a while to work and one would expect they are better for longer in this match. However Peel Thunder deservingly start as favourites after pushing last year’s grand finalists, Swan Districts all the way in a six-point defeat at home. Given the other results, the Thunder will be looking to capitalise against the League’s newcomers with a big win to help boost their percentage. These teams have never played before given South’s entry into the league this year, which provides viewers with unpredictability.

Players to Watch:

Breanne Spencer (South Fremantle)

The reliable defender really stepped up in the face of some fierce pressure coming into her zone. Time and time again she would intercept mark or drive out of defence. No doubt this week will be just as big of a challenge given Peel has some really damaging forwards.

Kira Phillips (Peel Thunder)

The renowned goalkicker started her 2020 season off with three goals in the narrow loss and will be keen to boost her numbers here. Last year the former Fremantle player won the Reserves goal kicking and is looking to make a real statement for the Thunder.

 

EAST FREMANTLE vs. SUBIACO
Sunday, July 26, 2.15pm
New Choice Homes Park

Subiaco got the win against Claremont last week in a thriller, 4.6 (30) to 4.4 (28), but this is a different beast altogether. The Sharks are a genuine champion side, and have great strength across the board even without their AFL Women’s players. East Fremantle might have been slow to start last round, but soon clicked into gear and showed no mercy against the Lions. Added to this clash will be Sara Lewis lining up at full-forward, fresh off a four-goal haul against the Bulldogs and taking on her former side in Subiaco. The match will be a good measuring stick for the Lions, while the Sharks will have a greater challenge than the week before which makes this a game to watch. Last season the sides played four times with East Fremantle winning two and Subiaco winning two. Interestingly enough, the Lions won their respective clash against the Sharks in Round 2 last year at Leederville Oval, then backed up with an impressive victory at New Choice Homes Park in Round 7.

Players to watch:

Sara Lewis (East Fremantle)

The competition leading goalkicker, albeit from one round will have pencilled this game in her diary. Coming up against her former side, Lewis will be keen to repeat her efforts from Round 1 against the Lions, though will no doubt be up for a bigger challenge in this game.

Abbey Dowrick (Subiaco)

One of the top talents now in her top-age year, Dowrick is the sister of West Coast’s McKenzie and loves a scrap and is really vocal on the field. She knows how to win the ball and really have an impact around the ground, and no doubt can match it with more experienced players.

2020 WAFL Women’s season preview: First bounce finally here for West Australian hopefuls

A NEW season of the West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s competition kicks off this weekend with six sides ready to do battle across the course of the season. Last season East Fremantle inspired by Lou Knitter Medallist (best on ground in the grand final) Gabby O’Sullivan, defeated Swan Districts by 23 points on the big stage. In wrapping up last year’s awards, Subiaco duo Hayley Miller and Danika Pisconeri shared the Dhara Kerr Award as the joint best and fairests throughout the season.

Round 1 of the new season sees the Swans facing off against Peel Thunder in the first match of the new season, while Subiaco and Claremont go at it later in the afternoon. The competition’s newest side – East Fremantle – join the fold on Sunday when they host the reigning premiers in a baptism of fire.

ROUND 1 FIXTURES:

Saturday, July 18:

Peel Thunder vs. Swan Districts (David Grays Arena, 12pm)
Subiaco vs. Claremont (Leederville Oval, 5.15pm)

Sunday, July 19:

South Fremantle vs. East Fremantle (Fremantle Community Bak Oval, 2pm)

Peel Thunder vs. Swan Districts

The teams faced off three times last season with the Swans getting the upper hand twice. In Round 4, Swan Districts won 11.5 (71) to Peel Thunder’s 4.1 (25), though two weeks later at the same venue – Steel Blue Oval – the Thunder held the Swans to just 1.5 (11) as they romped to a seven-goal victory. Later in the season upon returning home, Peel Thunder was no match for Swan Districts as the visiting side dominated with a 68-point triumph.

From Peel Thunder’s perspective, the player to watch is AFL Women’s National Academy member, Sarah Verrier. The midfielder loves the contested side of the game and will hope to dictate proceedings in this game, but there are a number of talents on the Swans’ side as well. Mikayla Morrison and Shanae Davidson are both Academy members too and will front up in the black and white this year, while another name to keep in mind is Emma Nanut. Outside of Verrier, Peel Thunder have a few more names to keep an eye on, with young talents such as Jade Briggs, and those ready to impact an impact at League level through their debuts in 2020 include Bethlyn Pasco, Courtney Rowley and Beth Schilling.

Subiaco vs. Claremont

After an early stumble on the road, Subiaco defined itself as the superior team in this head-to-head last season. The Lions went down to Claremont by seven points at Revo Fitness Stadium back in Round 4, but then kept the Tigers to just four behinds in the next two matches in Rounds 6 and 14, whilst booting an almost identical 8.6 and 8.5 in those games to win by 50 and 49 points respectively.

Looking at some of the young guns to watch out for in this game, Abbey Dowrick – the younger sister of West Coast’s McKenzie – has been one rising through the pathways over the years and will suit up for the Lions, as she goes head-to-head with Isabella Lewis‘ Claremont. Lewis is another member of the AFL Women’s National Academy, and she has a number of promising teammates such as Jessica Low, Emily Bennett, Amber Goodwin-Wissink and Rachel Ortlepp, while Amy Franklin is another name to watch as a potential riser this year at League level. For Subiaco, Kia Buckley, Caitlyn Walker and Claire Ortlepp are others to watch alongside Dowrick, while Charlotte Thomas is another to keep an eye on for the future.

South Fremantle vs. East Fremantle

The most intriguing match of the weekend may well be this contest with the reigning premiers surely heading is as strong favourites to get up over the league newcomers. Though South Fremantle will have the home support, it will no doubt be tough for the Bulldogs who have no past history to go on. Last season was the first official year the league has come under the WAFL brand, and the Sharks will be keen to build a dynasty and start the season off with a win.

The reigning champion have some good young talent to accompany its experience such as Rosie Walsh and Hayley O’Donnell, while Chloe Reilly is a player who has the potential to make an impact at League level in 2020. For the Bulldogs, Shakira Pickett is a name who will no doubt show plenty of talent, teaming up with the likes of Tayla Whincup, Taylah Cruttenden and Poppy Stockwell who have been earmarked to make an impact this year. It will be an exciting introduction for South Fremantle and give the Bulldogs a real ideal of where they are at when taking on the Sharks.