Tag: Kate Bartlett

2021 WAFL Women’s Round 3 preview: Top of the table clash to highlight huge round

A TOP of the table clash between Peel Thunder and Swan Districts at David Grays Arena tomorrow evening is the highlight of a big Round 3 across the West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s competition. Both sides head into the clash with two wins under their belts, following Peel’s triumphs over East Fremantle and Subiaco, while Swan Districts took care of Claremont and South Fremantle.

Both teams have an abundance of youth prospects running around that will fill out the West Australian squad at the AFL Women’s Under 19s Championships. Courtney Rowley is one of the top prospects across the country, and a potential head-to-head with Tara Stribley on a wing makes it a battle to watch. Up forward, Thunder bottom-age talent Ella Roberts is one of the most damaging forward prospects running around, and teaming up with Kate Bartlett, Peel has a one-two combination that packs a punch.

It means the likes of Emma Nanut and Emily McGuire will be key players, as will the reliable Lauren Osborne, in containing the talented Peel outfit. In midfield, Jess Cox has been in great form for the Swans, and could lock horns with Chloe Wrigley. Unfortunately Brianna Hyde is still unavailable due to injury, which otherwise could have seen the West Australian Under 19s co-captains face off with Jaide Britton on Peel’s side.

While Peel Thunder has a damaging forward combination, it would be remiss not to look at the depth and talent up the Swan Districts end. Nyra Anderson slotted three goals last week, whilst Mikayla Hyde returned to the WAFL Women’s to have an impact, and then there is the rising talents in Dana East and Bella Edgley. Both booted two goals, with Edgley potentially having more with 2.2, and East being named best on ground for her work roaming up the ground.

A couple of raw talls running around with good aggression in the air and at ground level are Beth Schilling (Peel Thunder) and Sarah Lakay (Swan Districts) which would be a huge match-up if they go head-to-head. Add in the talented 15-year-old Jaime Henry going up against another growing talent in Aisha Wright, and there are matchups to watch all over the field.

In the early Saturday game, East Fremantle will search for its first win coming up against Subiaco following the Lions’ loss to Peel Thunder last week. Subiaco got on the board against South Fremantle in the opening round, whilst the Sharks have falling to the Swans and Claremont in the past two weeks. Kia Buckley was best afield for Subiaco last round, and will be looking to have an impact against the Sharks, while Chloe Reilly is relishing her role down back.

Rosie Walsh will be set for her second game back this season and look to influence in the ruck, while a host of young Sharks are building some good form despite the results. Anjelique Raison and Mylee Leitch have both produced some highlights this season, being able to add to the experience of Sara Lewis up forward, and the likes of Sharon Wong and Kimberley Boulton in midfield and defence respectively. The Sharks defence is rock solid, which will make life difficult for the Lions.

However outside of Buckley, the Lions have other young guns in Abbey Dowrick and Jamie Rust, as well as Maggie MacLachlan who has strung together a couple of games whilst waiting for her AFL Women’s call-up to the Dockers. Tarnica Golisano is a reliable player, while Ellie Blackmore and Courtney Guard are consistent performers.

In the final game of the round and standalone game on Sunday, Claremont is searching to go back-to-back with wins after defeating East Fremantle last week, while South Fremantle is still searching for its first win in club history. From a Bulldogs perspective, Poppy Stockwell is a talented forward when she can get access to the ball, with Ashleigh Reidy and Zoe Huggett also damaging in the forward half. Pia Durk has been a revelation coming into the side this year, while Tahlia Holtze and Lauren Vecchio are reliable players to back in to perform each and every week.

Claremont’s top young talent is Amy Franklin, a key forward who has the athleticism of a small forward, but can roll through the ruck as well. Strong in the air and hard to contain at ground level, she will look to have a greater influence this week after a promising Round 1, but a quieter Round 2. Jess Low was in a similar boat, being near best-afield in the Round 1 game, before a quieter Round 2 game, though Rachel Ortlepp was absolutely outstanding at half-back. She combined well with youngster Emily Bennett, while Emily Elkington was another who had her moments. Ella Smith and Sasha Goranova are consistent performers, while Amy Fortescue has not missed a beat since coming into the side from Queensland.

It is hard to predict winners across the weekend with all three games predicted to be close. Based on their early results, Subiaco, Peel Thunder and Claremont will be favourites, but the Thunder and Swan Districts clash will be the pick of the bunch.

WAFL WOMEN’S ROUND 3 FIXTURES:

Saturday, March 6:

East Fremantle vs. Subiaco @ New Choice Homes Park, 12pm
Peel Thunder vs. Swan Districts @ David Grays Arena, 5pm

Sunday, March 7:

Claremont vs. South Fremantle @ Revo Fitness Stadium

Picture credit: Owen Davies/Peel Thunder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture credit: Tony Lendrum Photography

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Picture: WAFL

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

AFL Women’s Draft preview: Fremantle Dockers & West Coast Eagles

THE AFL Women’s Draft is fast approaching and in the lead-up to the draft, we take a look at each of the AFL women’s sides in pairs and see what they might look for, and who might be available with the selections they have. Next up in our series are the two sides from Western Australia, in Fremantle Dockers and West Coast Eagles.

Fremantle Dockers – Western Australia pool

Draft selections: 14, 30, 46, 58

Off-season summary:

The Dockers made a few moves in the off-season with three players delisted alongside the retirement of Kate Flood. The experienced Mia-Rae Clifford, as well as Sarah Garstone and Lindal Rohde were all delisted by the Dockers, while Tayla Bresland headed to state rivals West Coast for Pick 46. Coming into the side was North Melbourne’s Jess Trend for a bargain basement price of Pick 44, effectively making it a straight swap in Trend for Bresland. The Dockers wrapped up a productive off-season by picking up Tarnee Tester as a delisted free agent seeing enough to suggest she has more to give at the elite level.

Finishing on top of the AFL Women’s table undefeated in 2020, the Dockers will be determined to back it up with a successful year in 2021 and enter with the second and third selections in the AFL Women’s Draft.

A draft look:

The two players the Dockers will likely look at are two hardened competitors in Sarah Verrier and Bella Lewis, who both trained at the Dockers over the summer. Verrier was a member of the premiership-winning Peel Thunder side in the midfield, while Lewis continued to improve through the midfield-half-forward line and is readymade to have an impact if need be. Both would be worthy selections with Verrier a player who has caught the eye for some time at junior level.

Others who fall under the Fremantle catchment include Lewis’ Claremont teammates, Jess Low and Ella Smith, and towering key forward Rosie Walsh who has enjoyed a strong season at senior level for the Sharks. Of course the Dockers could look at a number of West Coast Academy players too if they see fit in the draft.

West Coast Eagles – Western Australia pool

Draft selections: 3, 18, 32

Off-season summary:

West Coast made plenty of moves over the off-season from a list perspective with Kate Bartlett, Cassie Davidson, Emily McGuire, Danika Pisconeri and Tester all delisted. Most of them stepped up at WAFL Women’s level to suggest that they could all earn a call-up if the Eagles – or Dockers as they did with Tester – feel they deserve another chance, while Emily Bonser also announced her retirement.

In terms of trades, Western Bulldogs’ Irish recruit Aisling McCarthy joined the blue and gold for effectively Pick 16, as the Eagles helped the Bulldogs move one spot higher on the draft board which would not impact West Coast having the first selection in the West Australian draft. They also brought in Bresland for Pick 46 who will join the raft of players switching between the teams out west.

A draft look:

The Eagles have a number of top-end talented youngsters in high-flyers Mikayla Morrison and Shanae Davison. Holding pick one and three in the AFL Women’s Draft, they could secure both with those selections, or look at one of the Fremantle prospects too. Morrison has velcro-hands in any conditions and is so classy around the ground, while Davison is an athletic high flyer with a remarkable contested marking ability.

Looking at some of the other West Coast-aligned players, other Swan Districts teammates in twins, Brianna and Mikayla Hyde, and Sarah Wielstra have earned AFL Women’s Draft Combine invitations, as has Subiaco’s Maggie MacLachlan.

As an overall look at the West Australian draft crop, there is plenty to like about the players on offer, and both sides will be stronger for it with talent at ground level and in the air that could step up and have a massive impact at AFL Women’s level next season.

Peel Thunder complete fairytale from wooden spooners to premiers

IT was a modern day football fairytale, with the 2019 West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s wooden spooners Peel Thunder turning their fortunes around in 12 months and claiming a remarkable title in 2020 over minor premiers, Subiaco. The Thunder reversed two previous results against the Lions this season, losing by nine and then six points – the latter of which happened a fortnight ago in the second semi-final – to post a memorable 15-point win.

In what was a fantastic performance by the second placed Thunder, Peel weathered the early Subiaco storm aided by a strong breeze, to boot three second quarter goals, and only concede on goal in the last 75 minutes of the match. Chloe Wrigley won the Lou Knitter Medal for best on ground for her work through the middle, but it easily could have gone to any number of players such was the even team performance across the board from the Thunder.

From 15-year-old Ella Roberts‘ strong overhead marking and kicking two majors in the second term, to the defensive efforts of Tanisha Anderson, Ebony Dowson and Cassie Davidson in the back half, and the strength and nous of Kira Phillips inside 50, everything clicked for the Thunder on the big stage. Subiaco was not without its chances, and after a second goal early in the third term gave them hope, the Lions could not maximise their time with the breeze, and ultimately ran out of time as Peel’s defensive work in the second half restricted their ability to score.

It looked good early for the minor premiers who had defeated Peel just two weeks earlier, doing all the attacking. Five minutes into the contest, it was Maggie Maclachlan – who received a Draft Combine invitation a couple of weeks ago – who got her team going with a quick kick that was a wobbly floater but effective, reading the ball off hands and putting it through. Subiaco was relentless in its attack going forward, but Dowson and Anderson were holding up well.

Kia Buckley was having some sort of first term for the maroon and gold, but kept finding the ball a touch too far out, and Wrigley was beginning to work into the match. Ebony Bilcich‘s long boot off the wing pickpocketing her opponent hit up Kate Bartlett just outside 50 and Peel had its first inside 50, 16 and a half minutes into the term. Unfortunately Bailey Molloy got a cruel bounce and Subiaco cleared, but it was only for a short time as Roberts won the ball on the wing, got it to Bartlett who spotted Phillips leading out.

Her long shot from 45m was impressive given she was kicking into the wind, but sprayed it to the right. Nonetheless, Peel was gaining some crucial forward minutes against the breeze late in the quarter. Soon they would get on the board through Phillips, who wrestled a number of opponents, managed to craft it to her boot at the top of the goalsquare and bounced it home with the final kick of the quarter. Despite having to concede forward half possession for the majority of the contest, the Thunder headed into the first break with a one-point advantage.

Now kicking with the breeze, the Thunder took full advantage of the wind, booting three majors to give themselves some breathing space on the scoreboard. It was no surprise to see Roberts heavily involved with an inside 50 from Hannah Church. Her shot from 40m hardly looked like missing and Peel extended the lead in the opening minute of the contest. Subiaco had a number of forward thrusts themselves as Aimee Schmidt and Tayla Thorogood were involved, while Lions captain Hayley Miller tried to create something special.

Demi Liddle joined the likes of Anderson, Dowson and Davidson in holding firm in defence, and the Thunder used their trademark ball movement to turn defence into attack in transition. Midway through the term, it was some smart thinking from Phillips kicking with the outside of the boot close to the boundary line to spot Molloy loose and running towards goal. Her teammate marked 20m out and then made no mistake, with the lead out to 13 points.

Subiaco was showing signs of frustration with Abbey Dowrick giving away a downfield free kick for a late push, and a number of high tackles. It would be the work of Liddle again, this time further up the ground to hit up Roberts with an unbelievable mark overhead, so clean and reading it incredibly well to set up another set shot. Being 40m out, it was like she was point-blank as she coasted another one home and all of a sudden the lead was out to 19 points and the danger signs were there for Subiaco.

Able to gain some minutes inside 50 in the later stages of the term, Maclachlan had a chance to kick one against the flow, but her dribble kick went to the left and through for a behind – the first score since her goal early in the opening term. The last play of the term was a contested grab from Phillips but her long-range torpedo from 50m fell short and Subiaco was able to lock it up. Heading into half-time, the Lions trailed by 18 points.

Picture: Owen Davies/Peel Thunder

The second half would only yield one goal, but it did not stop the contest from being tight and tense throughout. Ellie Blackmore had been solid throughout the contest and tried her best through the midfield, and soon it was Maclachlan again who poped up just three minutes into the term. Leading Shannon Whale to the ball, she won a free kick for being held and then converted the goal to draw within 12 points.

Tiah Haynes had presented Maclachlan with a perfect kick inside 50, and both Haynes and Blackmore were trying to get the ball moving inside 50. Whale, Anderson and Dowson had other ideas with their fierce tackling really stemming any flow Subiaco could create. Greta McKinley was getting in on the action with some drives out of defence. Roberts was even getting back to help out, and moving through midfield taking some crucial contested marks.

Charlie Thomas had a quick kick towards goal midway through the term but could not get penetration on the kick, and every time Subiaco charged forward, the Thunder had the answers. Anderson was best-on in the third term with great position, playing in front, strong marking and kicking out from half-back really owning her defensive line. It helped Peel attack fiercely and whilst they did not manage to put a goal on the board, the likes of Bartlett and Roberts both had chances, but missed. Peel had done enough to lead by 14 points at the final break.

The final term was much of the same as the third quarter as Peel had the breeze and was still attacking to make sure they did not park the bus and allow the Lions to make all the moves. Dowson got involved with a great kick to Roberts who took another contested mark and then a huge front-on tackle from Whale forced a turnover on the wing and the Thunder went forward and locked it up. That was what the final term was all about, just keeping the ball inside forward 50.

They did that for the full 20 minutes as each time Subiaco went to attack, the Peel defence stood up. Dowson, Whale and McKinley were particularly impressive in the final term, with Roberts and Phillips again great forward of centre. Wrigley, deserving of the best on ground medal won it through the middle and Peel was able to play a perfect final term. With a few minutes left, Liddle took a strong intercept mark deep in defence and it was the final straw that broke the camel’s back. The siren sounded a few minutes later and the Thunder were victorious.

For all of Subiaco’s hard work, the consistency of Ange Stannett, Schmidt, Blackmore and Maclachlan, it would not be enough as the full team contribution from the Thunder had got them home. The fairytale was complete. Peel Thunder were the 2020 WAFL Women’s premiers.

WAFLW GRAND FINAL 

SUBIACO 1.0 | 1.1 | 2.1 | 2.1 (13)
PEEL THUNDER 1.1 | 4.1 | 4.3 | 4.4 (28)

GOALS:

Subiaco: M. Maclachlan 2.
Peel: E. Roberts 2, B. Molloy, K. Phillips.

ADC BEST:

Subiaco: E. Blackmore, M. Maclachlan, A. Schmidt, K. Buckley, A. Stannett
Peel: C. Wrigley, E. Roberts, T. Anderson, E. Dowson, C. Davidson, K. Phillips

Picture: (Retrieved from) @WAFLOfficial via Twitter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

ADC BEST:

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

Picture: Owen Davies/Peel Thunder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final quarter frenzy sends Sharks into the prelim

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GOALS: 

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

ADC BEST:

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

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

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

Picture: (via) East Fremantle Women’s Facebook

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.