Tag: poppy stockwell

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

Top Performers: WAFL Womens Round 2 – Swans and Tigers enjoy wins

IN our Top Performers for the West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s competition, we took a look at the two streamed games between Swan Districts and South Fremantle, and Claremont and East Fremantle.

Emily Bennett (Claremont)

Playing out of defence, Bennett provided a lot of one percenters for her team with tackles, shepherds or fend-offs to buy and extra second before disposing of it. She fiercely charged out of defence, and whilst she would occasionally rush her kick or lay a high tackle, when she had time and space was able to hit a kick down the wing.

Jess Cox (Swan Districts)

The tough inside midfielder had a ripping game, using her penetrating kick, strong body and tackling pressure to win plenty of contested ball and pump it forward. She laid tackle after tackle, and took a number of contested grabs, using good vision to hit up targets on the outside streaming forward. In a case where she did not take a grab early in the fourth, she backed up with a good second effort and handballed to a teammate to run on with it. Late in the game, Cox showed her strength by fending off a couple of opponents at half-forward and got the ball away.

Dana East (Swan Districts)

A tricky customer to try and bring down, East has great movement in close and is one that cannot be left unattended inside 50. An outside runner, East was able to stamp her mark on the contest with back-to-back goals in the second term, slotting a set shot from 25m out on a tight angle, then moments later kicked truly with a clever snap around her body which bounced home whilst being under pressure. She also set up a shot on goal with a nice pass inside 50, then had a highlight-reel play by taking a run, sidestepping an opponent and shrugging them off, and chipping inside 50 to the leading Nyra Anderson.

Emily Elkington (Claremont)

Had a few nice moments for the Tigers through the game, which started with a good run and low kick inside 50 to a target early in the game. She might be lightly built but had a crack throughout, marking at half-back in the second term, missed her target but laid a great tackle to win the ball back and dispose of it more effectively the next time. In the last term she had a nice sidestep and fend-off to get the handball away.

Bella Edgley (Swan Districts)

After kicking two goals last week, Edgley backed up that effort with another two goals in Swan Districts’ Round 2 win. After a quieter first quarter, she made her mark literally with a strong grab leading out then converting the set shot three minutes into the second term. She continued to lead out and attack the footy, taking several marks then moving it on to set up teammates, but had a few shots herself missing three chances with two set shots and a quick snap during the second half. Edgley finally netted her second goal with serious style, dribbling home a Goal of the Day contender from deep in the pocket.

Amy Franklin (Claremont)

Not as prolific as she could be, Franklin shared her time between forward and ruck. She took a strong leading out mark in the second term then lowered the eyes and found Jacinta Valentini for a Tigers goal 14 minutes into the quarter. She moved well through the middle in the third term with a quick handball to keep the ball transitioning into attack. She took a number of good marks in the final term, with her set shot 12 minutes into the game just falling short and spoiled across the line.

Jaime Henry (Swan Districts)

The 15-year-old talent has such strong hands and is one who can be a target at either end. Playing off half-back and through midfield, Henry holds a firm line, and even intercepted the ball at half-forward in the second term. She used the ball well and has a powerful kick, then even when she was not able to get involved as much due to the ball being inside 50, she remained active and kept holding her line in the side.

Sarah Lakay (Swan Districts)

An exciting and athletic talent, Lakay had a number of chances in the forward half, with her first shot on goal a scrubber that floated to the left, but her second nailed Hayley Cole on the chest. She took a huge grab in between two opponents late in the first term, and then went into the ruck in the second term to five Sarah Wielstra a rest. She had a long-range shot from late in the quarter that registered a behind, then remained active late in the game by taking a good intercept mark 40m out from goal and hit a teammate coming out from goal.

Emma Nanut (Swan Districts)

In fairness, playing in defence Nanut did not have to do as much as usual, but she took a really strong contested, juggling grab early in the piece. Throughout the middle two quarters the Swans just dominated and the defence was mostly unsighted, but when required, Nanut pushed up to the wing, and in the last quarter showed a great second effort. She won it, lost the ball under pressure, then laid a fierce tackle to win it back at half-back and kick to a teammate on the wing. She was lively in the early stages of the final term when she took a more offensive approach up the field.

Angelique Raison (East Fremantle)

A raw talent who attacks the ball hard on the lead, Raison already protects the ball drop well and gets to the front of her opponent when one-on-one inside 50. Her first kick on goal fell short, and she almost took a juggling mark in the second term but could not quite pull it down. She is still developing different areas of her game, but her attack on the contest and her ability to get into the right spots is what catches the eye.

Chloe Reilly (East Fremantle)

Had a really productive first quarter playing in defence, and was one of the best on the field in the opening term. After switching ends over the off-season, Reilly showed she has the offensive run and defensive pressure to make it as an attacking defender. She kept pumping the ball out of the back 50 when her side was under siege, and took a huge intercept mark late in the quarter. After a poor bounce deep in defence sold her into trouble, Reilly managed to smother a shot on goal with her leg and then went in hard to win a free kick. While she was quieter later in the game, she still had some highlights such as a nice spin one way and then the other to pump the ball into space for teammates to run onto.

Poppy Stockwell (South Fremantle)

Had a tough day playing up forward when the ball was not down there a great deal, but kept attacking the contest where possible. Often had extra numbers against battling her for the ball, but never gave in despite copping a knock midway through the game.

Tara Stribley (Swan Districts)

After being a little fumbly in the opening couple of minutes of the game, Stribley went to work and used her speed and skill to impact the contest. Her first term was massive, running hard from the wing to the forward line, and regularly looked to put the jets on and arch the back. She knew where to put it inside 50, and whilst she might have made the odd mistake, was prolific in her attack. Late in the game she had a quick shot from the tightest of angles but it was marked in the goalsquare.

Rosie Walsh (East Fremantle)

Returned to the team and spent more time in the ruck as she had touted ahead of the season start. Whilst still developing her contested marking, she showed clean hands at ground level and is quick to dispose of the ball by hand or foot, and move it on in transition.

Sarah Wielstra (Swan Districts)

The mature-age ruck had an impressive game not only at the stoppages, but up forward, having a number of scoreboard opportunities inside 50. She took several contested or one-grab marks both inside 50 and around the ground, and her athleticism from the ruck made her hard to stop. A set shot late in the third term just faded to the right which would have capped off an even better day for the late developer who received a AFL Women’s Draft Combine invite last year.

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

South Fremantle keen to become a destination club

SOUTH Fremantle are gearing up for their second season in the Western Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s with coach Beau McCormack excited by the young group of players making their way through the club.

“We’re trying to really emphasise South Fremantle as a destination club for females and the other clubs that have been around so we’ve been trying really hard to get an influx and we’re lucky enough to have had around about 19 new girls come to the footy club, this year as well so got a huge spread of girls,” he said.

Coming off the back of a shortened preseason – a similar story to last year – South Fremantle has taken everything in its stride whether it be having to accommodate for lockdown or being flexible with training programs throughout its preseason period to ensure the Bulldogs are in tiptop shape ahead of Round 1.

“We had a shortened introduction last year, three weeks and thrown into league football and this year we were doing our preseason and then had the word that the season was going to be brought forward so again we’ve had a shortened run up I guess. But preseason so far the girls have worked really hard. We have had some challenges with COVID as everyone has, and during some lockdowns the girls have, pushed each other and posted workouts and driven each other to continue to train, albeit with a partner. So, you know, we’re heading in a really good direction.

“We had a scratch match on the weekend and, you know, the fitness levels seem to be, on par with East Fremantle from what we saw so that was a good thing. Gives us a base to work on and see where we’re at and gauge the work they’ve done throughout the preseason,” McCormack said.

McCormack also touched on the difficulties his side along with the other teams in the competition have to encounter on a weekly basis as the players try and juggle a high intensity regime in their personal life.

“Trying to balance work and training and days, and games of roll and stuff at the moment it’s. You just have to have, as we do, a huge bit of flexibility around that, we obviously want girls to come to as many sessions as they can, but our stance on it is, is, family, work, and football, in that order.”

Although 2020 was a difficult season, with the Bulldogs unable to register a win and still finding their feet in the competition there is hope for improvement in the upcoming year as they aim to market South Fremantle as hot property for players to come to. Bursting at the seams with young talent and players in the state programme McCormack did not waste any time highlighting the players looking to make a name for themselves in the squad ahead of this season touting Pia Durk as another star in the makings thanks to her “tough attack on the footy” while there is plenty of promise around Evelyn Burry who “takes the game on and runs hard of half back.” Ash Reidy has also drawn the attention of McCormack with the youngster playing in the Grand Final at the Rogers Cup last year.

“She’s just super strong around the contest, has some great marking ability and her kicking as well so with Ash in full flight she will be the pretty exciting, she’s part of the Fremantle next generation Academy as well over here so you know they’ve already picked up on that, and if we can keep Ash fit and get her fitter as far as her knee I mean, we’re excited to see what she can bring to the team.”

However the side will be without star Taylah Cruttenden who became a regular for South Fremantle last year with the youngster committing to athletics ahead of the World Athletics in Kenya later this year. They could also be without the services of 2020 club leading goal kicker Poppy Stockwell for large chunks of the season given her cricket commitments. But with one door closing, another opens, as McCormack shed some light on a couple of exciting prospects set to take to the park and despite some only being new to the sport boast a wealth of raw potential and talent.

“We’re lucky enough to have Luce Gilchrist, who has been playing for a couple years in the Perth Football League Amateurs for Kurt and Wesley, an outstanding midfielder with just run and carry. It’s pretty phenomenal she’s still learning a game. “But Lucy is as ex-400m runner as well so she’s just can run all day long and skills. “Skills to clean up as she acknowledges, but it’s pretty exciting to watch.”

“We’ve got another young girl, Lauren Wakfer, her grandfather played at South Fremantle. She’s a young 16-year-old girl who’s in the state program. “Had a bit of timeout last year, with an injury and that but is growing every session and is exciting to watch. “In the scratch match on the weekend as well for a young girl, and her ability to go and ruck against some of these seasoned girls. “[She] just puts her body on the line, and just does it all with a massive smile and loves every minute of it so she’s really exciting.

“We have a new girl this year, she has only played one season of football I believe if I’m correct and her name is Makaela Tuhakariana. “She comes from a rugby background but she has burst of speed, and a sidestep that is just blowing people’s minds. “She has exquisite skills even at this stage, she can kick while running flat out. “She brings a tackling pressure obviously from rugby that you know we got some work to do on her technique but she’s not shy, in definitely impacting the contest and a person, in her way so she’s very exciting to watch and I’m sure there’s going to be some, some big things for Mikayla going forward.”

Casting an eye ahead to the upcoming season, McCormack’s main aim for the side was to play a brand of football that was hard hitting and free flowing to ensure that they could capitalise on their strengths.

“I think our brand football we set out last year to play a brand football of high impact football and being known for a hard hitting team, and I think we, we definitely set that example last year and it’s something that we take on and have taken in again to this year, as I said, you know, tackling pressure from my point of view is a huge part of the game and we don’t have it, we get it back,” he said.

“We’ve got some really good runners, that are in the side, just trying to get it out and quick movement of the football from, one end of the ground to the other sort of fast flowing, free flowing football.”

2021 AFLW Under 18s Ones to Watch

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

Georgie Prespakis (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

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

Teagan Levi (Bond University/Queensland)

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

Courtney Rowley. Picture credit: Owen Davies / Peel Thunder

Courtney Rowley (Peel Thunder/Western Australia)

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

Zoe Prowse (Sturt/South Australia)

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

Charlie Rowbottom (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

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

Charlie Rowbottom. Picture credit: Solstice Digital & Photography

Tara Slender (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country)

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

Makaylah Appleby (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)

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

Charlotte Thomas (Subiaco/Western Australia)

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

Nyakoat Dojiok. Picture credit: Draft Central

Nyakoat Dojiok (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)

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

Elizabeth Dowling (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

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

Ally Morphett (Murray Bushrangers/NSW-ACT)

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

Maggie Harmer (Maroochydore/Queensland)

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

Maggie Harmer. Picture credit: Deion Menzies, Highflyer Images

Amy Franklin (Claremont/Western Australia)

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

Tahlia Gillard (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

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

Ella Friend (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)

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

Jorja Livingstone (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)

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

Emelia Yassir (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

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

Mikayla Pauga (Maroochydore/Queensland)

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

Zoe Venning. Picture credit: SANFL

Zoe Venning (West Adelaide/South Australia)

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

Kasey Lennox (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

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

Amy Prokopiec (Clarence/Tasmania)

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

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

Gypsy Schirmer (South Adelaide/South Australia)

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

Eliza James (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

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

Alana Lishmund (Norwood/South Australia)

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

Alana Lishmund. Picture credit: AFL Media

Jaide Anthony (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

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

Others:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GOALS: 

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

ADC BEST:

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

Picture: AFL Photos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

ADC BEST:

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

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

Picture credit: JBC Studios

WAFL Women’s weekend wrap: Sharks hold on in one-point thriller

EAST Fremantle has picked up a win in the nick of time, downing Claremont by a point in a hotly contested game yesterday to get the Sharks season back on track. The 3.6 (24) to 3.5 (23) win snapped a three-game losing streak since East Fremantle’s opening round thumping of newcomers, South Fremantle. While there were some nervous moments yesterday, the experience of the Sharks shone through in crucial moments and the reining premiers got the job done by the barest of margins.

The opening term – like most of the game – was owned by the respective half-back lines. While both teams had a number of chances with East Fremantle early, and then Claremont late in the term, no one could strike a major. The experience of Laura Pugh (Claremont) and Philipa Seth (East Fremantle) for their respective sides were rocks in defence, while Paisley Prentice saved a goal against two opponents deep in East Fremantle’s defensive 50 with a timely spoil. at quarter time, the scores read two behinds apiece.

For most of the second term it genuinely looked like the sides might go into half-time without a goal on the board. Seth and Alex Williams were trying to create moves in transition out of defence, while Ruby Schleicher was also prominent with her booming kick from the back 50. Amy Franklin had a chance for Claremont herself taking a couple of bounces in open space, but a cruel second bounce saw the chance go begging. Similarly, Bella Lewis was doing everything she could to break up the stalemate with some crucial line-breaking runs, but just bit off too much at times, run down, but the effort was there.

It took until the 17th minute of the term for a fortunate kick from Kahra Sprylan to land in the lap of Stephanie Sparke who had positioned herself in front and read the ball drop better than anyone else. After missing what could only be described as a gimme in the first term, Sparke made sure lightning did not strike twice and she put through the game’s only major of the first half. The Sharks led by seven points at the half after not allowing the Tigers to score, but were also two players down with Madeline Ross (concussion from a goal-saving tackle in the first term) and Katrina Tinson (nose) ruled out of the game.

Bodies were flying everywhere in the second half as the game opened up a little more, but neither side would concede easily. Brooke Hongell took an unbelievable mark at half-back that left her worse for wear but able to return. This time spectators did not have to wait long for a major with Sarah Garstone getting busy off half-back to bomb it forward and then Bella Lewis‘ ability to hit the contest at speed paid off with a nice placed kick over the top for Mhicca Carter to run into the goalsquare and bomb it home four and a half minutes into the half.

Both sides remained vigilant in their defensive efforts, and it took until the final few minutes for the Sharks to get a response. Chloe Reilly – who earlier had come off due to the blood rule in the first term – put it to the goalsquare where the ball came off Rosie Walsh‘s hands for Sprylan to bounce at the drop zone with a perfectly timed snap from 15m out to hand the Sharks back the lead. The goal impressed Mother Nature enough she brought down heavy rain to end the term.

It seemed as though the Sharks had done enough to lead at the final break, but some late surges by the Tigers resulted in a last-minute set shot to young gun Amy Franklin who won a free kick and nailed the goal for a narrow one-point advantage. The final term would be on for young and old as the experienced East Fremantle battled with the youth of Claremont, though both sides had their fair share of AFL Women’s talent on the day. The Sharks had early chances through Sprylan and Gabby O’Sullivan (twice) who both just missed, though the Sharks had clawed into the lead.

Claremont did not clear the defensive 50 until nine minutes into the term, and while there had been no damage done yet, that was soon to occur. A rushed kick under pressure from the Sharks at half-back went out of bounds, and on the counter attack the Sharks went deep inside 50 for Sprylan to run onto it and goal from the goalsquare and extend the lead out to a game-high eight points. Both sides were cracking in, and while the work of Schleicher and Williams looked to be enough, it would not be the final twist of the game. Claremont almost had a goal in the 14th minute, when Krstel Petrevski sidestepped and opponent and got a kick rolling towards goal only for Larissa Versaci to drag it across the line for a rushed behind and seven-point deficit.

Having missed a golden opportunity earlier through Brooke Whyte on the back of terrific running from Jess Low at half-forward to spoil a contest then run onto it and pass it perfectly for the forward, it looked like the Tigers might have missed their opportunity. But a costly 50m penalty for overrunning the mark at half-forward – with the Sharks defender hearing play on rather than the hurry up – brought Marley Simmons to within 20m out. Her set shot looked far from convincing, but it did all it needed to which was sail through the big sticks.

Claremont would continue attacking in the final few minutes with the Tigers getting the ball to half-forward, but the aggressive run of Williams to win a one-on-one contest and bomb it long to the Sharks half-forward line to be locked up, was enough to have the siren sound and East Fremantle enjoy the narrowest of wins, 3.6 (24) to 3.5 (23).

EAST FREMANTLE 0.2 | 1.3 | 2.3 | 3.6 (24)
CLAREMONT 0.2 | 0.2 | 2.4 | 3.5 (23)

GOALS:

East: K. Sprylan 2, S. Sparke.
Claremont: M. Carter, A. Franklin, M. Simmons.

ADC BEST:

East: P. Seth, G. O’Sullivan, A. Williams, K. Sprylan, R. Schleicher
Claremont: G. Pugh, B. Lewis, M. Simmons, J. Low, S. Garstone

In other WAFL Women’s results, Subiaco came from behind at three quarter time to post a narrow nine-point victory over Peel Thunder in a top of the table clash. The Lions kicked the final two goals of the game in the last term after trailing by five points at the break to win, 6.5 (41) to 5.2 (32). Aimee Schmidt booted two goals for the victors, while Jade Briggs did the same for the Thunder.

Another multiple goalkicker on the weekend was South Fremantle’s Poppy Stockwell who helped her side to its most competitive effort of the season, going down to Swan Districts by seven goals. Only trailing by eight points at quarter time and only lost the third term by two points, the Bulldogs have looked to have found their groove, though they were unable to take down Swan Districts that strung back-to-back wins together with an 8.8 (56) to 3.3 (14) victory. Fiona Boucher was the dominant force up forward for the Swans with three majors.

WAFL WOMEN’S ROUND 5 RESULTS:

Peel Thunder 5.2 (32) defeated by Subiaco 6.5 (41)
South Fremantle 2.2 (14) defeated by Swan Districts 8.8 (56)
East Fremantle 3.6 (24) defeated Claremont 3.5 (23)

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.