Tag: sarah wielstra

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

WAFL Women’s to return on February 20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture credit: Owen Davies/Peel Thunder

Swan Districts hopeful for 2021 after positive preseason

AFTER a tumultuous 2020 season, Swan Districts are looking for a much more stable and consistent year in 2021 as the Western Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s returns. The club is gearing up for a big season after an interrupted fixture in 2020, and even though a shortened preseason has been limited further by back-and-forth COVID-19 restrictions, Swan Districts Female Football Manager Jo Taylor is positive the team has done enough to come into the season confident in their ability to challenge the competition.

“You know, we’ve had a really positive preseason, new coach on board and a whole lot of new assistants and strengthened our strength and conditioning department in bits and pieces,” Taylor said.

“We’ve had a really good, positive sort of preseason and some time on the track. “We’re pretty confident, and when I say confident, I’m not talking results. “But we’re confident that we’ve done the work and that we should have a really positive season.”

With new head coach Adam Dancey at the helm – who spent the last two seasons as a specialist coach with Carlton in the AFL Women’s – the side should be raring to go, with an exciting playing group made up of a couple of experienced heads, but predominantly young talent which Taylor said is the club’s aim.

“We have a really young list again, we’ve got some more youngsters through, which is something that we’ve always sort of strived to do,” she said. “So we’re excited to see what they can do as well.”

But a spanner was thrown in the works as Western Australia went into an unexpected five-day lockdown last week. While every club was impacted, Taylor says that the state-wide tightened restrictions limited Swan Districts from a couple of additional opportunities compared to their regular schedule, including a leadership camp and joint training with the WAFL Men’s team.

“Yeah it has (interrupted preparation). “We’re all in the same boat so it’s okay, but for the Swans, we had a sort of a camp planned for (the) weekend that we cancelled along with training on Tuesday and Thursday, and on Thursday, we were actually having a joint session with our WAFL team and a big member’s night,” Taylor explained. “So that would have been a really, really good occasion, you know, the coaches got together and came up with a session so that we could promote our sort of one club philosophy and get the girls and the guys out there training together.

“We’re just hopeful and looking forward, obviously. So we’ve had this lockdown, but but my information is that it shouldn’t affect the start of our season… we should still be able to start our season on the weekend of the 20th of February, you know, we’re just excited and pumped to try and get a full season in and hopefully with minimal disruptions and to get back to some normality.”

Heading into the 2021 season, the Swans are focused on playing an “attractive” brand of footy, which comes with a high work-rate, hard attack on the ball and an exciting style of play that will showcase the skillset of all the players on thee field.

“We like to use our skill and our speed. So, you know, we’ll win it in the clinches, but we’ll get it to the outside and move the ball,” Taylor said. “Historically, we try to play some pretty attacking football and, and attractive football – always promoting the game as well.

“A brand that is hopefully, fingers crossed, high scoring, attractive to watch and, just exciting. We just want our girls to always be having fun, you know, they’re learning and they’re adding to their skillset, but they’re enjoying what they’re doing. And the best way to do that, I think is to make sure that you’ve got a game style that promotes people to play with their natural talents. So you know, you really want those girls to be able to thrive on and with their natural ability and just grow that.”

Speaking of natural ability, Taylor suggested some players to keep an eye on as the season begins, with Sarah Wielstra, Melisha Hardy and Jessica Cox all impressing throughout the preseason.

“We’ve had a fairly big list turnover in the last year or two and we’ve got a lot of really young people coming through… and it’s not the usual suspects,” Taylor said.

“Sarah Wielstra, she came to us for the first time last year, she’s a sort of ruck/forward, has spent some time as a train-on with Fremantle in the offseason, and I expect her to have a breakout season. She’s just so raw but she’s a really good talent. “A young indigenous girl Melisha Hardy, she’s an East Perth junior, but East Perth don’t have a team in the WAFLW so is playing with Swans and she’s been training the house down.

Jessica Cox is someone who’s been with us for a few years and she’s just put in a mountain of work, she had a, I guess a breakout season last year in our midfield but I expect her to take the next step even more so this year.

“So that would be three. I mean, there’s more, but there’s probably three that I think are going to have significant seasons.”

The playing group has benefited from seeing a couple of their counterparts picked up in the 2020 AFLW Draft, with Shanae Davison (West Coast) and Mikayla Morrison (Fremantle) selected at pick 18 and 30 respectively, while Mikayla Hyde was selected as an injury replacement for Fremantle just 10 days before making her debut during Round 1.

“I think WA along with Queensland and South Australia, our young talent is probably fortunate, we only played I think six games but to actually get six games in and to be able to showcase their talent was just, you know, you can’t put a value on that,” Taylor said. “I think it was invaluable for our girls over here in WA, the Swans girls, but also just in general, for those young ones to be able to show their talent again, in a pretty good competition in the WAFLW.”

“We’re just excited to be able to get back to that and hopeful that you know, our restrictions over here in WA can keep us safe and keep the footy going.”

Swan Districts begin their 2021 WAFLW campaign against Claremont on the weekend of February 20.

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.

2020 AFL Women’s Draft preview: The next crop of young stars to find homes tonight

TONIGHT up to 61 players will live out their AFL Women’s dreams when the 14 clubs select the players to fill out the 2021 lists at the 2020 AFL Women’s Draft. Like most years, the AFL Women’s Draft still has state-based selections with Adelaide (South Australia) and GWS GIANTS (New South Wales) having sole priority to players that nominate that state. In Queensland (Brisbane and Gold Coast) and Western Australia (Fremantle and West Coast) the teams will split the players, whilst the remaining 10 teams will fight over the Victorian pool. The one major change is that there is only a Victorian pool, not split into Metropolitan and Geelong, so the Cats do not have priority on those from the region.

Richmond holds the all-important first pick in the draft which is expected to kick off from 7pm. There are a number of players the Tigers could select, but the frontrunner is Northern Knights’ star Ellie McKenzie, an inside midfielder who can play just about anywhere on the field and has been a proven talent for a number of years now.

[ … Ellie McKenzie feature … ]

Western Bulldogs traded up from Pick 3 to Pick 2 to ensure they could nab the second best player in the draft, with Tyanna Smith high up there in contention. The Dandenong Stingrays’ star has very few flaws in her game and has elite acceleration and a match-winning ability. The other one in contention if the Dogs opt to go tall could be another Northern Knights’ star in Alyssa Bannan as another forward option, as she can play tall or small and even push up into the midfield.

[ … Tyanna Smith feature … ] | [ … Alyssa Bannan feature … ]

Also in the mix for the top Victorian picks are Sandringham Dragons’ Sarah Hartwig, a rebounding defender who could fill the need at Melbourne with Pick 5. Whichever player is left of the trio, expect the Saints to pounce on with Pick 6 in what showcases the elite top-end talent of this year’s group. Another possibility for the pick could be Northern Knights’ Jess Fitzgerald if the Saints choose to add extra midfield class to their side.

[ … Sarah Hartwig feature … ] | [ … Jess Fitzgerald One to Watch  … ]

West Coast and Adelaide also have top five picks coming in at picks three and four, with the Eagles having a decision to make whether they go high-flying Shanae Davison from their own aligned-Academy or if they look at someone like Sarah Verrier, a Peel Thunder talent with a great blend of inside-outside traits or Bella Lewis a hardened midfielder who has been sensational this year. The Crows are expected to be a little more predictable, with Teah Charlton the standout prospect, though given they have a monopoly on the South Australian nominees, they can select anyone in any order.

[ … Shanae Davison feature … ] | [ … Sarah Verrier feature … ] | [… Bella Lewis … ] | [ … Teah Charlton feature … ]

Gold Coast becomes the first Queensland team into the draft at Pick 7, and with players still able to nominate the Gold Coast and Brisbane zones, a Suns Academy member such as Annise Bradfield, Daisy D’Arcy, Maddison Levi or Beth Pinchin could be among those in consideration. For the Lions a pick later, Zimmorlei Farquharson looms as the standout youngster in the group.

[ … Annise Bradfield … ] | [ … Daisy D’Arcy feature … ] | [ … Maddison Levi feature … ] | [ … Zimmorlei Farquharson feature … ]

The final pick inside the top 10 is Geelong and they have the most interesting selection with the top group likely off the board, it is an even balance of players they could choose from. If they opt to go local – knowing they do not have priority – then perhaps the skill and class of Falcons’ Darcy Moloney could be an option. If they want to go a little taller, then Isabelle Pritchard could head down the highway from the Western Jets and provide a strong inside presence, or they could look to a proven big-game performer in Northern Knights’ Fitzgerald.

[ … Darcy Moloney feature … ] | [ … Isabelle Pritchard feature … ]

Western Bulldogs become the first team to make their second selection at Pick 11, which is effectively Pick 6 from the Victorian draft. If they went Smith in the first selection, they could look to go taller here and look to someone like Bulldogs’ supporter Pritchard or perhaps consider Murray Bushrangers’ key forward Olivia Barber. If they went for Bannan with their second selection, perhaps Fitzgerald is one to join the ranks as yet another Knight, whilst the likes of classy forward Bella Eddey or outside mover Mimi Hill could come into consideration through the first round.

[ … Olivia Barber feature … ] | [ … Bella Eddey feature … ] | [ … Mimi Hill feature … ]

Carlton enter the draft at Pick 12, and the names already raised in Fitzgerald, Hill and Eddey could be around the mark, though if they want to add an inside midfielder, then perhaps Falcons’ Laura Gardiner could be a suggestion. North Melbourne are next up and will also be keen to add another midfielder to the ranks, and try and predict what Melbourne (Picks 15 and 17) and Western Bulldogs (Pick 16) are going to do. If the Dees did not end up with Hartwig, then they could look at Dandenong Stingrays’ Zoe Hill with a selection, or if Pritchard has somehow slid, she is another defensive option.

[ … Laura Gardiner feature … ] | [ … Zoe Hill feature … ]

The West Australian teams squeeze in between the Victorian ones, with Fremantle likely to grab one of Verrier or Bella Lewis at the pick. Both are Fremantle-aligned and the Dockers know they can have an immediate impact in last year’s unbeaten side. The Eagles could look to Davison – if not already taken – or the classy Mikayla Morrison with this selection, or go for the ready-made Nyra Anderson at Pick 18.

[ … Bella Lewis feature … ] | [ … Mikayla Morrison feature … ] | [ … Nyra Anderson feature … ]

The last team to enter the draft is Collingwood with Pick 19 the Magpies’ first selection. Expect that to be Tarni Brown because on talent alone she is a top 10 pick, so the black and white army will gladly use their first pick on the Eastern Ranges’ jet. They will look to add some more midfield options, and she adds some extra speed and class to the team. Expect Alice Burke to be read out at the Saints’ Pick 24 – again great value – otherwise anything else is a bargain.

[ … Tarni Brown feature … ] | [ … Alice Burke feature … ]

The draft crop becomes so even outside of that top 20, with so many talented players fighting for spots on AFL Women’s lists. Ash Woodland and Georgia Nanscawen are readymade prospects who can impact immediately at AFL Women’s level, whilst Alana Barba, Shanara Notman, Nikia Webber, Amber Ward and Mattea Breed are all talls who have an extra year of experience as over-agers. Not holding a Draft Combine invite per say, South Australian duo Rachelle Martin and Matilda Zander would be a couple of others on clubs radars as ones who can make an immediate impact.

Some former basketballers who have crossed to football in the last 12-18 months are Amelia Velardo, Annabel Strahan and Carly Remmos, whilst Jess Matin (cricket) and Charlie Vandenberg (hockey) are among others who have forced high-level careers in other sports. Queenslanders, Christine Okesene, Brooke Spence, Laura Blue and Lucy Single are others who have transferred from various codes over the years.

From a Victorian perspective, among other names in various midfield positions are outside midfielder, Abbey Jordan and Joanna Lin, inside midfielders, Brooke Hards, Olivia Meagher and Winnie Laing, balanced midfielders Eliza McNamara, Megan Fitzsimon and Maeve Chaplin. Meanwhile the standout ruck is Maggie Caris.

Up forward, Renee Saulitis is the most dangerous small forward, whilst Isabella Simmons is a taller option, and Abbi Moloney a rapidly improving player. In defence, Ash Snow has great speed, while the likes of Jemma Finning, Mietta Kendall and Amber Micallef have all produced great seasons. As some raw talents, Alice O’Loughlin and Alice Astbury have had glimpses in the few games they have played, whilst Grace McRae and Daisy Walker have been valuable across multiple positions though predominantly in the middle.

From South Australia, Indy Tahau is the other star top-ager who is likely to join her South Adelaide teammate Charlton at the Crows, whilst for NSW/ACT,  Murray Bushrangers’ Abby Favell, midfielder-defender Emily Pease and surprise packet Kiara Beesley were among the Draft Combine invites. From the Northern Territory, top-ager Stephanie Williams leads the charge and has nominated Victoria, while Freda Puruntatameri – who played some games for Calder Cannons – and mature-ager Janet Baird have all caught the eye.

Out west, mature-agers Sarah Wielstra (25 years-old) and 20-year-olds, Ella Smith, Rosie Walsh and Jess Low all earned combine invites. Meanwhile from the top-age group, twins Brianna and Mikayla Hyde have impressed moving into the midfield this season, while leading forward Maggie MacLachlan is another player in contention to be drafted.

[ … FOR FULL FEATURES ON MORE THAN 80 PLAYERS HEAD TO OUR AFLW FEATURES PAGE … ]

TEAM-BY-TEAM PICKS:

Adelaide: 4, 45, 47
Brisbane: 8, 37, 38
Carlton: 12, 28, 36
Collingwood: 19, 25, 26, 31, 33
Fremantle: 14, 30, 46
Geelong: 10, 20, 21, 27, 39
Gold Coast: 7, 23, 50, 54, 57, 58, 60, 61
GWS: 9, 29, 42
Melbourne: 5, 15, 17, 35, 41, 48
North Melbourne: 13, 22, 44, 49, 55
Richmond: 1, 43, 52
St Kilda: 6, 24, 34, 40, 51
West Coast: 3, 18, 32, 53, 56, 59
Western Bulldogs: 2, 11, 16

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.

WAFL Women’s weekly wrap: Round 4 – Swans triumph over reigning premiers in wet conditions

SWAN Districts finally broke through for a second win after a couple of competitive efforts, defeating reigning premiers East Fremantle by 12 points in wet and windy conditions at Steel Blue Oval yesterday. The result saw the Swans move back inside the top four and move to 2-2 from four rounds, sentencing the Sharks to their third consecutive loss and bumping them out of the finals spots.

Led by young guns, Shanae Davison and Mikayla Morrison who as head coach, Jo Taylor said “played like they were playing with a dry footy all day”, the home side came back from a goalless first term and an eight-point half-time deficit to boot four goals to one in the second half. Both Davison and Morrison kicked terrific goals with clean hands, while fellow State Academy talent Nyra Anderson booted two majors, and Mikayla Hyde was one of the more prominent players through the midfield.

Coming into the day, both Swan Districts and East Fremantle had dropped their past two matches after Round 1 wins over Peel Thunder and South Fremantle respectively in the opening round of the season. Confronted by the wet conditions, and what would turn into heavy rain in the second half, both teams were willing to just win territory early with a lot of soccering off the deck to get the ball inside 50. Taylor said the team had to adjust to the conditions from what it had trained with previously, but knew that the young team could not afford to get too bogged down both metaphorically and physically against a more experienced and stronger side.

“We certainly addressed it and tried to drive home to the girls that it needed to be a territory game and that it was going to be really contested,” Taylor said. “We didn’t want it to just become a slog fest, so we still encouraged the players to take their opportunities and use their speed and their skill to break the game open when the opportunity arose.”

Despite trailing by eight points at half-time and only a sole Anderson goal with two minutes to play in the half following a free kick for an unrealistic attempt as the only major in the opening half, the Swans still kept in touch. They had limited their opponents to just the two majors themselves, which came via a Sharks young gun in Chloe Reilly – who snapped around her body well in the opening term – and then another State Academy member in Roisin Walsh who got on the end of a chain of neat passes to quickly get boot to ball and at that stage, give her side a two-goal advantage.

Taylor said despite trailing on the scoreboard, she was impressed with her side’s pressure all over the ground, and consistently attacked the ball and the ball carrier to wear down the Sharks as more time went on.

I think we were really, our pressure was through the roof for the whole game,” she said. “Our tackle pressure, forward pressure and around the ground and I think at the contest. “In the clearances we were actually holding our own, if not just in front for the majority of the game. “But as the game wore on, the girls were able to adjust to the conditions, but also it’s a young playing group that are still learning to play together, so each week they are feeling that connection a little bit more. “As the game went on, we were able to see that sort of trust in each other to spread the ball from the contest. “We were able to capitalise a bit more from the breakeven early and then dominating the contest as the game went on.”

The game really turned on the scoreboard midway through the premiership quarter when the Swans booted back-to-back goals on their way to four consecutive majors in the second half. Unbelievable pieces of play from Davison in the third, and Morrison in the fourth where they just created something out of nothing was superb, and while Walsh booted her second major late in the game – returning from an injury scare from her earlier goal – it would not be enough for the Sharks.

One player who put in a real four quarter performance was Swan Districts captain, Emily McGuire who time and time again repelled the ball off half-back and limited easy opportunities for the Sharks inside 50.

Em’s been in our system for a while but she’s still a really young player,” Taylor said. “Everyone feels like she’s been around forever and she’s now the captain of our football club. She’s still young and learning these roles. “I still think Em’s best position is behind the footy because she does patrol it well and she uses it really well. “So it was nice for it to come off for her, particularly in those conditions. “It was pretty tough, but she was pretty sure-handed and most of her decisions were very good. “It did give us the opportunity to break that line with her ability to dispose of the ball the way that she does.”

While the likes of Davison and Morrison were taking marks and picking the ball off the deck like it was a warm summer’s day, Taylor also credited the work of experienced players inside 50 who were able to crash the packs and force the ball to ground where the teenage talents went to work.

I think most importantly we worked a lot on the way we’re trying to move the ball into the forward line and to have players like Fiona Boucher who’s been around for a while, but she contested all day and crashed the pack and allowed the young players to use their skills and run through, so I think both her and Steph Graskowski were key for those young girls being able to play that role. “Which was just they presented in conditions they were never going to take the big grabs, it was always going to be tough, but they led up all day and brought the ball to ground so we could utilise the skills that those young ones have.”

Boucher worked a tireless game through the forward 50, having a couple of chances close to goal in the third term, with one quick kick in the goalsquare seeing her knocked off it, but a second chance – thanks to a long Morrison bomb in – resulted in a soccer off the ground a metre out. When asked just how crucial the likes of Boucher was for the younger players, Taylor said it was “absolutely crucial” to the development and success of the playing group.

For us to have someone like Fi Boucher and then down back, (Eliza) Gelmi, (Aimee) Ralph and (Lauren) Osborne who are all playing the same role down there. “Just to have that level head that experience it makes the young ones who are a little bit more confident. “It’s also creating that bit of crash and bash, creating a bit of chaos where as you say, Mikayla Morrison, Shanae Davison they thrive in that environment. “For us we’ve lost a lot of leadership out of our group, but the ones that we have are really crucial to allow us to play the game that we want to play.”

Taylor said Sarah Wielstra impressed her through the ruck, with the recent addition’s follow-up work “outstanding”. She praised the cleanliness of Davison and Morrison throughout the day, whilst said Mikayla Hyde’s progression into the midfield has been terrific, with the lightly-built forward-cum-midfielder playing “one of the best games (Taylor has) seen her play in the contest”. While the win was important in terms of Swan Districts’ finals hopes this season, Taylor said she still wanted her team to improve on the areas it had focused on all through pre-season and the first half of the season – transition and ball movement.

Our transition from defence to attack and then the way we’re moving the ball forward and in women’s footy and with us over the last few weeks, it can tend to get clogged up at that 40m mark,” Taylor said. “Between 40 and 60, rather than we’d like to see the ball go in deeper. “Our ball movement and transition to try and get some deeper entries is definitely something we’ve been working on for the last 10 weeks and will continue to work on those.”

PLAYER FOCUS:

Shanae Davison (Swan Districts)

The talented forward amazed with her ability to take mark after mark around the ground as if it was a perfectly dry day. She presented well, got stuck in playing a high amount of midfield minutes, and won the ball in each third of the ground. She protected the ball drop well in the contest, took a number of contested marks, and then looked to play on at every opportunity she can. Given Davison possesses nice wheels and decision making skills, she was able to get the ball in quickly, and try and open up the game, earning her best on ground in our eyes. Her goal from a quick snap was absolutely superb in the third term.

SWAN DISTRICTS 0.2 | 1.2 | 3.3 | 5.3 (33)
EAST FREMANTLE 1.1 | 2.3 | 2.3 | 3.3 (21)

GOALS:

Swan Districts: N. Anderson 2, F. Boucher, S. Davison, M. Morrison.
East Fremantle: R. Smith 2, C. Reilly.

ADC BEST:

Swan Districts: S. Davison, M. Morrison, E. Wielstra, E. McGuire, M. Hyde
East Fremantle: J. Norrish, G. O’Sullivan, R. Walsh, K. Tinson, A. Williams

In other Round 4 results, the top two sides continued their strong outings with wins over respective opponents. Subiaco’s unbeaten start to season 2020 rolled on with a massive 14.11 (95) to 2.2 (14) win over South Fremantle at Leederville Oval on Saturday, while Peel Thunder took a crucial away win against Claremont, 3.6 (24) to 2.4 (16) yesterday.

The Lions piled on seven goals in each half on their way to the 81-point smashing, as Aimee Schmidt (five goals), Lara Filocamo (three), Kia Buckley (two) and Abbey Dowrick (two) all had big days out. For the Bulldogs, Kiara Templeman and Lauren Vecchio both hit the scoreboard as the South Fremantle team score continues to increase each week in promising signs.

In Peel Thunder’s eight-point win over Claremont, the Thunder booted three goals to two in the opening half, and just held on from there in a really tight tussle with both teams combining for five behinds in the second half. Kira Phillips was the only multiple goalkicker for the Thunder with two, while Bailey Molloy booted one for the winners. Lewis Bella and Amy Franklin were the two major goalkickers for the Tigers.

WAFL Women’s weekly wrap: Lions continue undefeated streak

SUBIACO has remained undefeated after three rounds of the West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s competition following a couple of big wins. In the featured game of the round, the Lions won a real grind against a young Swan Districts outfit to ensure Subiaco extended their unbeaten streak.

It was an entertaining contest despite being played between the arcs for the majority of the match, as the the Lions, led by top-age talent Abbey Dowrick won 5.7 (37) to 2.4 (16) in perfect conditions. Dowrick slotted three majors and was the difference between the sides in the end, having an additional couple of chances roaming at half-forward, in what could have been an even bigger day for the talent.

Swan Districts repeated the effort of the game from the week before with an early goal to Sarah Wielstra from the work of Mikayla Hyde who was a little far out to score but found her teammate at the top of the goalsquare. The next 10 minutes of the first term belonged to Subiaco as they dominated forward half possession, and Dowrick took her chance with a snap off a couple of steps, along with a kind bounce that cleared the goalsquare pack to bounce through.

Three minutes later, late inclusion Kia Buckley made sure the coaches gave her some consideration to retain her spot with a strong fend-off on Eliza Gelmi and then put it through from 15m out. Some late pressure from Swans forced the Lions to rush a behind, but then an end-to-end play almost resulted in a second goal to Dowrick who marked all alone but shanked the kick to the right.

The number 23 soon made good on her miss with a chance early in the second term to make no mistake thanks to a thumping goal from 35m out and extend the lead after an earlier Janelle Cuthbertson miss. Jess Cox was having a strong day for the Swans, working well with the likes of Wielstra and Emily McGuire, whilst Mikayla Hyde was busy on the inside. while Mikayla Morrison had a quiet first term, she showed how she does not many touches to do some serious damage with an elite sidestep close to goal and then slammed the Swans’ second major home 12 minutes into the term.

The Swans had some impressive play in the backend of the second term, as Nyra Anderson‘s clean hands at ground level, McGuire’s booming kick and the work of Mikayla Hyde and Tara Stribley through the middle was eye catching. Hayley Cole had a chance in transition but missed to the right as Maggie Maclaughlin took a number of late intercept marks to end the half with Subiaco nine points ahead.

Unfortunately for the young Swan Districts side, it could not muster up a goal in the second half as the Lions had to work incredibly hard for the three they kicked to end the game. The third term was an odd term wither neither side scoring until a behind from Philippa Pienaar in the 15th minute broke the drought. Both sides had battled between the arcs, and it looked like the teams would head into half-time with just one additional behind separating them. Jacqueline Toth had other ideas as she pounced on Shanae Davison who dove on the ball late in the term, won the free kick and then moments before the siren drilled the goal from 15m for a 16-point advantage at the final break.

Swan Districts was not going to roll over though, as Stribley and Brianna Hyde were moving the ball well with some speed, but once again it was the thorn in the side for the Swans all day that broke the camel’s back. After three and a half minutes of early forward possession for Swan Districts, Subiaco rushed the ball inside 50 for the first time to a pack, it spilled and Dowrick did the rest with a quick kick from 40m and had her third for the term.

From there, the battle between the arcs continued as both half-back lines tried to create something, but neither side was able to really get a good look deep with the back 50s set up well. McGuire was trying her best with her ranking long boot as Davison, Brianna Hyde and Bianca Webb had really worked into the game as the match went on and opened up in terms of space. Lindal Rohde had a chance for Subiaco later in the term after smothering a kick in the forward 50, then having a running shot but missed to the left.

Swan Districts had its best chance for the match with Brianna Hyde and Cox combining, but the latter just did not quite settle on the shot running into goal for a behind, which was the home side’s first score of the final term. Once again up the other end less than two minutes later, Subiaco punished the Swans with a late bump from McGuire on talented middle-ager Charlie Thomas who sensed no one was manning the mark following the 50m penalty and ran in for a nice goal late in the match. The final scoring opportunity of the game came from Morrison who after being loose inside 50, had a shot on goal in the last 15 seconds but missed to the right, signalling a 27-point defeat.

Dowrick was the clear standout for the Lions, with Toth, Pisconari and Miller always damaging, while Maclaughlin, Pienaar and Cuthbertson showed some nice signs throughout the contest. Cole was among the Swans’ best with Cox, McGuire, Wielstra and the Hyde sisters, whilst 15-year-old Olivia Cripps was also strong in defence.

SWAN DISTRICTS 1.1 | 2.3 | 2.3 | 2.5 (17)
SUBIACO 2.3 | 3.6 | 4.7 | 6.8 (44)

GOALS: 

Swan Districts: S. Wielstra, M. Morrison.
Subiaco: A. Dowrick 3, K. Buckley, J. Toth, C. Thomas.

ADC BEST:

Swan Districts: J. Cox, H. Cole, M. Hyde, E. McGuire, S. Wielstra
Subiaco: A. Dowrick, J. Toth, D. Pisconari, H. Miller P. Pienaar

In the other Saturday game, Peel Thunder handed reigning premiers East Fremantle their second consecutive match with an impressive 13-point triumph at David Grays Arena. The Thunder booted the only goal of the first half in a low-scoring match, before booting four goals to three in the second half, and most importantly being more accurate in the half, kicking 4.1 to 3.3 to win 5.5 (35) to 3.4 (22). Kira Phillips booted another two goals for the Thunder, with Krystal Carter, Kate Bartlett and Kate Ditchburn all booting one apiece. For the Sharks, Stephanie Sparke kicked two majors, with Kahra Sprylan snagging one.

On Sunday, it was a cause for celebration in the final term when South Fremantle finally recorded its first goal of the season after two scoreless weeks to open the year for the league’s newest side. Getting a behind on the board in the opening term, the Bulldogs were able to get past the drought of the first eight quarters to finish with a scoreline of 1.3 (9). Unfortunately Claremont was far too good, and as one of the premiership contenders, booted nine goals from 21 scoring shots to win by 57 points. Mhicca Carter booted three goals on debut, with former Calder Cannons and Melbourne AFL Women’s talent, Krstel Petrevski also kicking a major for the Tigers. Brooke Whyte snagged three majors in the win, as did Bella Zadnik and Amy Franklin. for the Bulldogs, Chloe Taylor made history as her club’s first ever goalkicker.

WAFL WOMEN’S ROUND 3 RESULTS:

Swan Districts 2.5 (17) defeated by Subiaco 6.8 (44)
Peel Thunder 5.5 (35) defeated East Fremantle 3.4 (22)
South Fremantle 1.3 (9) defeated by Claremont 9.12 (66)

Pic: WAFL