Tag: waflw

WAFLW wrap – Semi-finals: Peel Thunder books automatic WAFLW Grand Final spot, as Subiaco tames Tigers

REIGNING premiers Peel Thunder are one win away from back-to-back flags, defeating minor premiers Swan Districts for the second time in three weeks to book an automatic spot in the West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s Grand Final. The Thunder earned themselves a week off with a hard-fought win in the torrential rain, defeating an inaccurate Swans outfit, 2.4 (16) to 0.11 (11).

Despite the Swans having far more chances on goal reflected by their 11 straight behinds, they could not seem to split the big sticks, through a combination of inaccuracy from set shots, and some desperate defending on the last line by the Peel backline. Three Swans players kicked multiple behinds on their way to the narrow defeat, though they were always in with a shot, only going down by a kick in the end.

Demi Liddle was absolutely sensational on the last line for Peel, saving numerous scoring chances, starting with a big tackle on Taylah Edwards in the opening 90 seconds of the match to force a behind. As the rain poured down, Peel started to have a few repeat forward entries, and whilst Ella Roberts‘ flying shot was off target, the teenager was able to weight a handball perfectly to Katie-Jayne Grieve in the final minute of the term to put through the first goal of the game.

Moments later Grieve had a chance, but strong defender Lauren Osborne was up to the task to put enough pressure on her opponent to force a missed kick and only a behind. Peel dominated the majority of the opening term, but only had a seven-point lead to show for it, with the rain causing all sorts of havoc. Ebony Bilcich and Kira Phillips were both looking dangerous in the forward half of the ground, but the likes of Osborne and Swans captain Emily McGuire were holding up the fort well.

Young defender Mel Hardy almost had a moment to forget early in the second term with the usually reliable ball user opting to kick across goal but mis-hitting the pass and landing in the goalsquare with the dangerous Phillips. Not realising she had more time, Phillips tried to quickly soccer off the ground but missed, much to the relief of the home team. Peel was doing all the attacking early, but the likes of Jaime Henry were standing up under pressure, as the teenager took a great mark in the defensive goalsquare.

Swans then took control of the momentum with repeat forward thrusts, kicking three behinds for the game, with a number of chances – such as Nyra Anderson‘s set shot and Kloe Taylor‘s running attempt – falling short with Phillips working hard to be up the other end with a strong, safe grab on the last line. At half-time, the sole goal to Grieve had the Thunder up by just five points, 1.3 (9) to 0.4 (4).

The third term saw chance after chance go begging for the top of the table side, as they slotted six behinds in some atrocious conditions. The Swans picked the worst quarter to have all the momentum, with the rain pouring down and making any sort of clean chances hard to come by. Sarah Wielstra had a couple of shots on goal early but could not find the big sticks, with the usually-reliable Dana East on the run also missing, and even McGuire, who is one of the safest kicks in the competition, drifted her set shot to the left.

As the rain bucketed down, Aisha Wright had a chance but missed to the left and was rushed through, to give Peel an important two-point buffer. Swans continued to have repeat entries, with the Thunder almost taking full advantage of a rare inside 50, but Aimee Ralph was able to save the day with a vital mark in front of Phillips with two and a half minutes on the clock. Stribley had the final shot of the day, running into goal and was tackled in the back right on the siren, allowing the bottom-ager to have a shot after the siren. Her set shot – like so many of her teammates – drifted for a behind, but the Swans had somehow levelled the scores at the final break despite not kicking a goal.

If anyone was wondering if the Swans could win the game off not kicking a goal, then the curiosity kicked up a notch early in the final term. Liddle was unbelievable on the last line, clearing it from danger, but then required to dive with desperation. East had a flying shot, Mikayla Hyde kicked off the ground, but a terrific defensive effort from Liddle to touch the ball saw it rushed through. Regardless, the unthinkable had happened, Swan Districts lead early in the last without kicking a goal, 0.11 (11) to 1.4 (10).

The final term was mostly an arm wrestle, with Kate Bartlett almost hitting a low bullet to a couple of free teammates inside the goalsquare, but a desperate Henry managed to get in the way and stop a certain goal. Steph Cain had a flying shot towards goal up the other end, but another terrific defensive effort – this time from Greta McKinley – saved the day. McKinley not only got a fist on a bouncing ball towards goal, but put it out of bounds to avoid the deficit going to two points.

Then the moment came. Peel had been bravely defending for the majority of the final term, and the quick ball movement from one end to the other saw a clash of bodies inside 50. Bartlett was on the deck, copped a high whack and made sure the umpire saw it, awarding the competition’s leading goalkicker with a set shot in front of goal. Becoming the first person in the match to split the big sticks from a set shot, Bartlett’s attempt made everyone else look silly as she popped it through and kicked what would be the match-winner for her side with six minutes left on the clock.

The Swans desperately tried getting it forward in the final few minutes, with Stribley trying to run inside 50 but was mowed down by fellow State Academy member Jaide Britton, then a quick passage of play forward by the Swans was intercepted by Cassie Davidson in defence. She along with Liddle had been outstanding, and despite the ball being in the Swans forward half when the siren sounded, Peel had done enough to secure the narrow five-point win and book a spot in the grand final, 2.4 (16) to 0.11 (11).

Eliza Gelmi had done well with Osborne and McGuire in defence, with Bianca Webb, Cain and Stribley all named amongst the best. For the Thunder, Liddle and Davidson were outstanding, with Sabreena Duffy and Chloe Wrigley winning plenty of it through the middle, and Bilcich having some terrific plays in the match. Now the Thunder get a well-earned break before playing at home against the winner of Swan Districts and Subiaco.

SWAN DISTRICTS 0.1 | 0.4 | 0.10 | 0.11 (11)
PEEL THUNDER 1.2 | 1.3 | 1.4 | 2.4 (16)

GOALS:

Swan Districts: Nil.
Peel Thunder: K. Grieve, K. Bartlett.

DC BEST:

Swan Districts: L. Osborne, E. Gelmi, S. Cain, T. Stribley, B. Webb
Peel Thunder: D. Liddle, C. Wrigley, S. Duffy, C. Davidson, E. Bilcich

In the do-or-die semi-final, Subiaco held off a determined Claremont by three points in equally wet conditions to remain in contention for the 2021 WAFL Women’s title. The Lions had all the momentum in the first term but could only slot five behinds, as Claremont kicked two of the next three goals to lead by four points at the final break. A late major via a free kick for front-on contact to Amy Hunt handed the Lions the goal they needed, to ensure they won 2.6 (18) to 2.3 (15).

The first quarter was really scrappy but dominated by Subiaco, who did not let it inside the Claremont forward 50 for the majority of the term. There were various shots on goal, but Hayley Miller and Lara Filocamo had the best chances, with the latter after the siren hitting the post to make it five straight behinds for the visitors.

AFL Women’s Academy young gun Amy Franklin kicked the first goal of the game in a stunning against-the-momentum play with a rare inside 50 for the Tigers and beating her opponent one-on-one to win the ball and run into the open goalsquare just two and a half minutes into the game. The sun was back out shining making life a little easier for the players, but Subiaco could still not find the range with Hunt winning a free kick, giving it off to the usually deadly McKenzie Dowrick but her flying shot went out on the full.

Jess Low and Maggie MacLachlan were dominating for their respective sides, and it took a quick kick where luck’s a fortune for Kate Pocsidio to hit-up a sliding Miller. She finally converted her side’s first goal of the contest, and the Lions took a four-point lead into the main break. Both sides had chances late in the term, but the scores stood at 1.5 (11) to 1.1 (7) in favour of the visitors.

Early in the third it was clear the tables had turned in Claremont’s favour, as Low was having a brilliant day alongside midfield partner-in-crime Andie Payne. Tessa Doumanis had a chance from a snap but just skewed it under pressure, before Brooke Whyte and Mikayla Western had opportunities but could not convert. Finally it took some kicks forward in the wet for Amber Goodwin-Wissink to put one through the big sticks, not phased by being brought down, nailing the goal on the run and handing her side the lead midway through the term.

Emily Elkington and Western were getting their hands on the ball to complement Low and Payne, providing good run in forward transition. This time it was Claremont’s turn to have plenty of forward half possession, but make little from it, only kicking the 1.2 in the term. The Tigers did keep Subiaco scoreless in the term, with the respective Ortlepp‘s – Rachel and Claire – toiling hard up opposite ends. By the time the siren sounded, Claremont led by four points, 2.3 (15) to 1.5 (11).

For the most part the final term was a real battle, as Subiaco started strongly with some repeat entries, as the usually reliable Claremont defence was having clanger after clanger coming out of the back 50. They gave the Lions plenty of chances, and eventually the overwhelming pressure was rewarded. A one-on-one between Rachel Ortlepp and Hunt in the forward pocket saw Hunt bump Ortlepp off the ball, win it at ground level and her Claremont opponent desperate to win it back, crashed into her clumsily.

It handed Hunt what seemed like a near-impossible shot in the conditions, about 20m out on the boundary, but the forward made no mistake, popping it through like she was in the goalsquare and the Lions were back in front. Ella Smith was trying to will her side on in the game, with Payne and Low both productive, but Smith’s great tackle inside 50 and attempt to pass to Goodwin-Wissink 15m out was called back. Her shot to the square looked dangerous, but the safe hands of Jayme Harken ensured it did not cause any damage to the visitors.

Tackle after tackle from the Subiaco side really showed their determination late in the contest of what had been a hard slog. Claire Ortlepp mowed down Mhicca Carter, then Taylisha Brown caught Low, accidentally kicking it into the midfielder trying to return it to the field of play. A late intercept mark from Caitlin Walker, then the team defence of Subiaco to gain meterage out of the back 50 in the final minute, followed by a last second tackle by Jamie Rust, ensured the Lions fans went home happy, knowing they had reached a preliminary final.

CLAREMONT 0.0 | 1.1 | 2.3 | 2.3 (15)
SUBIACO 0.5 | 1.5 | 1.5 | 2.6 (18)

GOALS:

Claremont: A. Franklin, A. Goodwin-Wissink.
Subiaco: H. Miller, A. Hunt.

BEST:

Claremont: J. Low, R. Ortlepp, M. Western, E. Smith, A. Payne
Subiaco: A. Hunt, H. Miller, J. Rust, J. Harken, M. MacLachlan

 

Picture credit: Total Sports Photography via Peel Thunder

Mann part of the Peel “family”

PEEL Thunder prospect Bella Mann is a talented multi-sport athlete. A former basketballer and netballer, the 17-year-old has taken to the Australian football code quickly after getting her introduction as a “fill in”.

“I started playing basketball and netball since I was little,” Mann said. “When I moved to Baldivis, my friends had a local footy team and they needed me to fill in, they were just one player short. So I went and filled in and I loved it.

“Especially coming from basketball and netball, I loved getting more aggression into it and stuff like that. “I played at Baldivis for a bit and then got picked up by Peel at the end of it.”

Now part of the Peel Thunder “family, Mann has taken quickly to senior football with aplomb. She has been a mainstay for the finals-bound Thunder, with her form enough to earn selection in Western Australia’s Under 19 squad. Within the two squads, she has been able to thrive in multiple roles and showcase a development of key traits.

“I’ve been thrown around a bit this year,” she said. “I played back, mid, forward. I was a mid at Baldivis but I think I’m starting to go down back a bit more now.

“One of my strengths would be my contested marking and tackling. I’m working on my fitness, that’s probably the major [improvement] for me.”

As the type who can play both tall and small in terms of roles, Mann proved a reliable interceptor across WA’s Under 19 defence. She looks towards an elite midfielder for inspiration though.

“Monique Conti from [Richmond],” she said. “She [played] basketball, she does it all as well. And she’s not just such a good player, she does so much for her club as well… she’s just a good person.”

With a terrific trail to follow, Mann is looking to simply be “the best footballer” she can, with landing at an AFLW club the ultimate goal.

WAFLW Player Focus: Ella Roberts (Peel Thunder)

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

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

POCKET PROFILE

Ella Roberts
Peel Thunder/Western Australia

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

Source: WAFL

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

Player Focus: #8 Ella Roberts (Peel Thunder)

Quarter-by-quarter:

Q1:

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

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

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

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

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

Q2:

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

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

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

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

Q3:

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

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

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

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

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

Q4:

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

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

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

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

Closing thoughts…

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

WAFLW wrap – Round 15: Claremont goes back-to-back against finals-bound sides

CLAREMONT has put its hand up as a genuine West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s premiership contender after the Tigers’ second successive win against a finals-bound side on the weekend. Claremont defeated reigning premier Peel Thunder by seven points – just a week after knocking off fourth placed Subiaco – to secure a home final this weekend. The Tigers will lock horns with the Lions in the first week of finals, with a win seeing them take on either the Thunder or top of the table Swan Districts the following week.

The 6.4 (40) to 4.9 (33) result in favour of the Tigers was more down to capitalising on chances than anything else, with three less scoring shots, but a three goals to zero second term giving the home team some separation on the scoreboard. Not even an inspired game by star teenager Ella Roberts could help the Thunder get over the line, though they did draw within a kick late in the game to give the home fans something to worry about.

It looked like a finals game early with neither side able to take much of an advantage as the tackling pressure was sky-high. Peel’s defence was holding up well against a flurry of Claremont forward thrusts, but then the reigning premiers showed how they managed to topple Swan Districts last week, by getting it up the other end and being the first to score through a Kate Bartlett behind. Roberts was already getting involved, but the Claremont defence was steadfast, as Sophie McDonald rushed through a behind off a Jaide Britton flying shot on the line.

Instead the ball went up the other end and Tessa Doumanis – fresh off an invite to the AFL Women’s Draft Combine – narrowly missed a chance on the run as she was taken down, then won a free kick after being tackled high by Ebony Dowson, and converted the goal just before the 10-minute mark of the quarter. Two minutes later, it was Roberts who created some magic with a free kick, drilling ball that bounced off her teammates’ chest, received it back, sidestepped an opponent and slotted it off a standing start as if she was strolling into an easy goal. When Aisha Wright had a quick kick that bounced through for a behind, Peel lead by three points, and Jacinta Valentini saved a potential late major with a mark in the goalsquare.

A very unlike Peel setup cost the Thunder a goal in the opening minute of the term which ended up being a bad omen for the rest of the term with Claremont putting the foot down. In just 50 seconds of action, the Tigers raced the ball down on the overlap and found Mhicca Carter all alone in the pocket and the talented goalsneak literally did stroll into an open goal. Peel’s only score of the term came off a Kira Phillips behind, whom did well one-on-one, then sidestepped her opponent, feigning a handball to put it on the boot but it missed to the left. The ball then went up the other end with Brooke Whyte taking a strong mark off a drilling Amber Goodwin-Wissink ball. Whyte turned around and headed for a vacant goalsquare with Mikayla Western heading back, but the ball bounced perfectly through the middle for another one.

Peel could not buy a goal as the usually-reliable Phillips missed a set shot from straight in front as it fell short, and instead, Claremont produced a seven-point play. Doumanis missed to the side for a shot on goal at the 12-minute mark and then captain Ella Smith intercepted off the kick-in to find the loose Goodwin-Wissink all alone 15m out from goal. Despite making the goal umpire work, she put it through the middle and despite having relatively similar inside 50s, it was Claremont that booted the only three goals of the quarter and headed into half-time with a 15-point advantage.

After a quiet quarter by her standards in the second term, it did not take Roberts long to weave some more magic. Just as the Thunder needed someone to stand up, Roberts produced a fantastic pickup and hit Bartlett inside 50 who turned around and never looked like missing. The Thunder did the majority of the attacking as they had seven shots on goal with Roberts almost setting up another to Tajah Griffiths, and Bartlett missing a shot from a tight angle she would normally gobble up. Claremont made them pay, by kicking a goal with its first deep inside 50, as Goodwin-Wissink got ball to boot off the left and dribbled it home for second. A late 50m penalty to Phillips saw her have a shot that would normally result in the pen going down, but she missed again. Moments later however she was on the receiving end of a pass inside 50, quickly turned her body and slotted it home to cut the final break deficit back to six points.

Again the game was in Peel’s forward half for the early moments, but the delivery going forward was not ideal as the defenders such as Rachel Ortlepp and Kate Orme were picking everything off. Up the other end, Goodwin-Wissink had the chance to put a nail in the coffin after some great Carter magic, but missed her set shot. Not long after, Whyte did just that, capping off a fantastic game with a set shot from 30m out slamming home, rewarding her big contested mark against three opponents, reading the ball better in flight than anyone else. The margin was out to 14 points and the game looked done and dusted.

The Thunder refused to throw in the towel though, as repeat entries kept pressure on the home side. Orme saved a certain goal right on the line at the 11-minute mark, but the Claremont defence – and midfield when it got out of the Peel forward 50 – was able to keep chewing time off the clock. Nel Baxter knew time was of the essence however, and quickly played on from a free kick with two minutes on the clock and slotted one on the run for a single straight kick. Unfortunately a crucial 50m penalty against Gracie Fenton for assuming the Thunder had the free kick handed Valentini a shot on goal, and whilst it fell short, Smith marked and delivered to Orme who kicked a behind just prior to the final siren.

In her 50th game, Chloe Wrigley was outstanding behind the talents of Roberts, with Fenton and defender Cassie Davidson also impressing. For the Tigers, McDonald was outstanding on the last line teaming well with Ortlepp, whilst Jess Low was influential throughout the game, particularly in the first half, and Whyte had some strong plays around the ground.

CLAREMONT 1.1 | 4.2 | 5.2 | 6.4 (40)
PEEL THUNDER 1.4 | 1.5 | 3.8 | 4.9 (33)

GOALS: 

Claremont: A. Goodwin-Wissink 2, B. Whyte 2, T. Doumanis, M. Carter.
Peel: E. Roberts, K. Bartlett, N. Baxter, K. Phillips

BEST: 

Claremont: S. McDonald, J. Low, M. Scanlon, R. Ortlepp, B. Whyte
Peel: E. Roberts, C. Wrigley, G. Fenton, C. Davidson, A. Barnden

In other results, Swan Districts predictably ended South Fremantle’s season with a big win. The minor premiers bounced back from their first loss of the season to the Thunder last week with a 63-point thumping of the league’s wooden spooners, 11.9 (75) to 2.0 (12). Four players kicked two goals in the game for the winners, including bottom-age talent Tara Stribley, as Nyra Anderson and Kloe Taylor were named among the best. Melissa Silcock and Lauren Wakfer kicked majors for the Bulldogs. Meanwhile Subiaco kept East Fremantle at arms-length throughout their contest to get up 12 points and head into the do-or-die final with Claremont following a 7.6 (48) to 5.6 (36) victory. Amy Hunt and Philipa Seth both booted multiple goals for their respective teams, as Abbey Dowrick and Marni Alston were named best-on.

 

Picture credit: Tony Lendrum Photography

WAFLW preview – Round 15: Final round takes place

AFTER an interrupted 2020 season, the West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s competition had a relatively unscathed year, with only a round missed and previously a brief lockdown in preseason stopping them from having a complete run at it. Now the teams are suiting up for the final regular season round, with the four finalists decided, but plenty still on the line in terms of pride as well as a mental advantage heading into finals.

The match of the round is two finalists up against each other with second placed Peel Thunder travelling to third placed Claremont in what could be a preview of a finals head-to-head at some point. The Tigers are coming off a one-point loss to Subiaco, whilst the Thunder became the first team to topple Swan Districts this year last weekend. Despite the different form lines from the penultimate round, expect this clash to go down to the wire.

Both Katherine Bennett and Emily Bennett are among those unavailable from the Claremont lineup, as Sophie McDonald and Kate Orme return to provide some extra experience. For the Thunder, Sabreena Duffy is out of the game with Demi Liddle, whilst an extended bench comes in, which includes the likes of Hannah Church and Tajah Griffiths. With plenty of great head-to-heads across the field, it will be fantastic to see just how the match goes down.

Tessa Doumanis and Amy Franklin starred up forward for the Tigers booting two goals each for Claremont’s entire goals haul, and will have to be tightly watched this week. The Thunder defence which includes the likes of Beth Schilling, Ebony Dowson and Cassie Davidson is remarkably hard to score against, and the forward line of Ella Roberts, Kate Bartlett and Kira Phillips is even more potent. Claremont has an equally reliable defence thanks to McDonald, Sarah Garstone and Rachel Ortlepp back there. Through the middle, the head-to-head of Mikayla Western and Sarah Verrier could be huge, with Orme taking on Western Australia’s Under 19s co-captain Jaide Britton on the other wing.

The sole Saturday game sees fourth placed Subiaco and fifth placed East Fremantle do battle, but because Subiaco toppled Claremont last week, the result is effectively a dead rubber in terms of finals calculations. Roxy Roux and Gabby Radojkovich are crucial inclusions for the Sharks, as the Lions are keeping everyone guessing with an extended bench that features Taylisha Brown and Dahna Lee among others. Roux has been named in the centre against Tarnica Golisano which is a massive battle, whilst the Sharks’ forward line of Rosie Walsh, Alex Wiliams, Chloe Reilly, Madeline Ross and Radojkovich is a dangerous one. The Sharks have an incredibly strong midfield in Lara Filocamo, Tiah Toth, Maggie MacLachlan and Golisano in what should make for a fascinating close battle.

The final match of the round features a top-against-bottom clash, with the minor premiers Swan Districts coming off its first loss of the season to Peel Thunder, whilst South Fremantle is yet to taste victory in two seasons. The Swans will be without the likes of Mikayla Hyde, Steph Cain, Mel Hardy, Bianca Webb and Emma Nanut for the clash, with Naomi Baker, Tara Stribley and Nyra Anderson among the young talents coming into the Swans’ outfit. South Fremantle has named an extended bench with Kiara Templeman, Nikita Hart, Nikita Little and Melissa Silcock on it.

The Swans do not have a weakness across the ground and expect the midfield of Jess Cox, Dana East and Brianna Hyde to take control, with Sarah Lakay rucking. A huge battle between Lakay and next year’s draftable talent Lauren Wakfer could be huge around the stoppages, with Wakfer and fellow ruck Mim Strom named up forward with other young talents, Makaela Tuhakaraina and Ashleigh Little. Jaime Henry is fresh off an impressive Under 17s couple of clashes with the State Academy, and joins Emily McGuire and Aimee Ralph in that reliable back five.

Picture credit: WAFL

Fast learning Lakay takes her game to new heights

AMONG the many code-jumping athletes gunning for the height of women’s football is Swan Districts ruck Sarah Lakay, one of Western Australia’s 15 National Combine invitees in 2021. The 186cm prospect has taken to Australian football with aplomb since crossing from basketball, rising from a local club which “lost every game”, to becoming a key part of her state’s Under 19 championships squad.

“My friend invited me to go down and play down at my local footy club,” Lakay recounted. “It was me in the ruck, my friend who was a rover, and my little sister. “It was a small footy club at the time, we lost every game but I loved it, I fell in love with it instantly… from there I’ve only played club level footy up until this year. “This year I decided to try get into the state team and here I am.”

There has been plenty of learning along the way for Lakay, who has adapted on the job against quality opposition. Having cracked the senior WAFLW grade, her first assignment at the Under 19 carnival was to go head-to-head with South Australian ruck, Zoe Prowse, arguably the best pure ruck in this year’s draft pool.

“Playing [South Australia] was awesome,” Lakay said. “It was a good wake-up call for me because obviously the other ruck was really good, so that challenged me and I was like ‘okay, these are some things I need to work on’. She contested with me really well.

“I had to work on my fitness, getting around the ball and I think I definitely improved on that [in the next] game. “I think in terms of ruckwork I need to work on going up and using my knee as well. “Obviously coming from a basketball point of view I’m used to jumping straight up and not really using my knee to get up and propel myself to get up to the ruck taps.”

The hands-on learning curve has not only helped Lakay identify areas of growth, but also what her key strengths are. She humbly put down her “mind-blowing” selection in this year’s state team to a “significant advantage” in height, but Lakay’s athleticism and contested marking ability have her pegged as a versatile tall talent.

“My height and my overhead grabs [are key strengths],” she said. “I can take a few good marks overhead, and I think that my ruck work is actually really good – being able to tap it directly to people and getting over people with my jump and reach to get it down to the rovers.”

With two AFL Women’s teams in her home state, there are plenty of current top level players to look up to. There are arguably few better for a young key position player to idolise than Fremantle’s Mim Strom.

“I’ve been watching the football more recently, especially AFLW football and Mim Strom is a definite standout,” Lakay said. “She’s in the position where she wasn’t first pick, but she’s just worked really hard to be where she is now and she’s doing amazing now, so I look up to her a lot.”

As far as her own journey and goals, the 18-year-old simply wants to become “the best player [she] can be.”

“Let’s see how far that takes me,” she said. “I definitely want to play AFLW and if that is what I accomplish, that’ll be so awesome.”

WAFLW wrap – Round 14: Subiaco claims last finals spot with one-point win over Claremont

SUBIACO has secured the last finals spot in the 2021 West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s, after coming from behind to down third placed Claremont in a nail-biting one-point contest. The Lions booted the opening goal of the game, but then conceded the next three, trailing by 14 points at half-time. They kicked three of the final four goals however to run over the top of the higher ranked opponents and maintain a two-game and percentage gap on fifth placed East Fremantle with only one game remaining.

In what was billed as a tight contest by two likely finals combatants, it lived up to expectations, with a goal in the opening two minutes going the way of the visitors. Tiah Toth hit-up Kia Buckley straight in front of goal for the youngster to convert and hand her side the early lead. Claremont took control after that though, with plenty of forward entries and capitalising in front of the big sticks.

The dominant duo of Tessa Doumanis and Amy Franklin were having it on a string once inside there, with Doumanis almost kicking one on the run – though it bounced into the post – then handing one off to Franklin who took a bounce and nailed it in style. Doumanis then took her chance by sidestepping an opponent to get back on her trusty left foot and put one home, before Franklin kicked a third, beating two opponents in marking contest, getting it to ground and keeping her feel to slam it home. Up the other end, McKenzie Dowrick had a set shot in the final 90 seconds but missed, to make it a straight two-goal ball game.

Both defences held up well in the second term and neither side could really take control. Emily Bennett and Jess Low were among those standing out in the game, and Claremont captain Ella Smith rued an open goal chance that came off the side of the boot. The Tigers kept attacking in the final few minutes, but the Subiaco defence was outstanding, as Claire Ortlepp held her own.

Subiaco made its move in the third term with a couple of goals to cut the deficit to just one point at the final break, with an end-to-end play 10 minutes into the term through Holly Hyder to McKenzie Dowrick and then Madi Wilkens running into an open goalsquare. Amy Hunt put one through after a great mark off a well-weight Liana Burchell kick inside 50, as Hunt played on to just get the distance with the open square. Both sides had some chances, but the quarter mostly belonged to the Lions, as Smith’s early set shot fell short, and the Tigers were held scoreless for the term.

It set up an exciting fourth quarter which lived up to expectations, as Doumanis steadied the ship for Claremont’s first since the opening term in the opening couple of minutes. With the lead out to seven points, the Tigers were able to kill time off the clock thanks to the reliable Bennett and the defence, while Emily Elkington and Sarah Garstone were also having strong impacts across the ground. Buckley was lively for the Lions, as her attack on the contest was particularly noticeable. In fact, she was the one who got the ball to Hyder who had a shot from an almost-identical spot to Franklin in the first term, but the ball sat up on the line and was rushed through to make it a straight kick.

With the time ticking down and just over five minutes left, Dowrick took a terrific contested pack grab and made no mistake from 40m out to level the scores. Claremont was now under pressure as Subiaco was coming hard, with Low and Mikayla Western both trying their best to get it forward. Up the other end, Jamie Rust laid a massive tackle to keep it up the forward end, then Bennett won a two-on-one to lock it inside defensive 50 without a goal out the back. A quick kick from Dowrick for a behind put the Lions up by a point, and holding the lead for the first time since early in the game.

With four minutes on the clock, both sides were desperate in their attack on the footy, as Claremont had some chances in the final couple of minutes. Garstone pushed up to keep the pressure on, Western tried to dance around an opponent but was dragged down, and eventually the Subiaco defence won out, got it down to open space, and a Dowrick tackle on the attacking side of the centre square held the ball up for a turnover and the final kick to be sent inside the Lions’ forward 50 as the siren sounded for a memorable 4.4 (28) to 4.3 (27) win.

CLAREMONT 3.1 | 3.3 | 3.3 | 4.3 (27)
SUBIACO 1.1 | 1.1 | 3.2 | 4.4 (28)
 

GOALS:

Claremont: T. Doumanis 2, A. Franklin 2.
Subiaco: K. Buckley, M. Wilkins, A. Hunt, M. Dowrick.

DC BEST: 

Claremont: E. Bennett, J. Low, T. Doumanis, E. Elkington, S. Garstone
Subiaco: K. Buckley,  T. Toth, M. Dowrick, H. Hyder, J. Ritchie

In the other WAFL Women’s results, Peel Thunder handed Swan Districts their first loss with a comprehensive 21-point win at David Grays Arena, whilst East Fremantle easily accounted for the winless South Fremantle by 70 points in a bottom two clash.

In the top-of-the-table clash, Peel kept Swan Districts to one behind in the second half whilst extending their half-time lead of seven points to 21 with 2.3 themselves. Kate Bartlett continued her awesome season with a couple of majors, as Kaitlyn Hayes, Cassie Davidson and Sabreena Duffy were all named in Peel’s best. Sarah Wielstra kicked a goal and was named the Swans’ best, as Kloe Taylor (one goal), and Eliza Gelmi were also among the losing side’s top players.

There was never any chance for the Bulldogs in their clash as the Sharks put the foot down from the opening bounce, piling on six goals straight to nothing in the opening term to effectively win the game by quarter time. They kept the foot down over the next two terms to lead by 72 points at the final break, but a spirited final term from the visitors – kicking 1.3 to 1.1 helped them cut the deficit to 70.

The Sharks had five multiple goalkickers, with Rosie Walsh and Chloe Riley among those players, while Kahra Sprylan and Gabby O’Sullivan also slotted two apiece and were named among the best with Philipa Seth. For the Bulldogs, bottom-age ruck Lauren Wakfer was a standout, as Liusaidh Gilchrist (one goal) and Ebony Clarkson were also impressive.

In the final round of the season, Subiaco hosts East Fremantle on Saturday, before Claremont and Peel Thunder go head-to-head on Sunday, followed by a top-against-bottom clash between Swan Districts and South Fremantle.

 

Picture credit: via WAFL

WAFLW: Blockbuster clash headlines big weekend

THE West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s competition returns for its 14th round of the 2021 season and the race for the finals is truly beginning to heat up. With just six rounds remaining, teams will be well aware that each contest has huge ramifications with time running out for teams to cement their spot on the ladder.

The round kicks off with a clash of the titans, as the undefeated Swan Districts travel to David Grays Arena to take on the second-placed – and reigning premiers – Peel Thunder on Saturday afternoon. It has been a talking point all season, but the Swan Districts have somehow managed to remain unbeaten after 13 rounds of action. They have stars across the ground and approach the game as good as any side in any league across Australia. Adam Dancey’s side have been the premier side of the 2021 season, and look like they will take a real challenge to beat. With players such as Dana East and Bianca Webb firing in last week’s massive win over East Fremantle, the competition heavyweights are in full flight and ready to take on any challenge in their path. That challenge comes in the form of the Peel Thunder this weekend, who have been quietly carrying out quite a strong season themselves. Losing just four of their first 13 games, the Thunder have been remarkably consistent throughout the season, and if their Round 14 opponents were not in the midst of a historic run, they would likely be considered premiership favourites once again. They look the biggest threat to Swan Districts, especially if forward Kira Phillips can maintain her impressive form around the big sticks. This will be the match of the round and is one to tune into on Saturday afternoon.

The two Fremantle sides will face off on the weekend, as South Fremantle travel to New Choice Homes Park to take on East Fremantle on Saturday afternoon. South Fremantle will head into the clash as clear underdogs, having not registered a win so far this season, but will be sniffing an upset here if they can get on top of their opponents early. Despite looking well off the mark so far this year, South Fremantle will be as desperate as ever, and will not be short of motivation when given the opportunity to take down their cross-town rivals. East Fremantle have found themselves just two wins outside of the top four, a task they know is achievable, but they’ll need the scoreboard impact of Chloe Reilly and Madeline Ross to be firing as they did in Round 12.

The final match of the round will also likely prove entertaining viewing for fans, as Claremont will play host to Subiaco at Revo Fitness Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Subiaco have been one of the form teams of the competition, winning four of their last five matches, and that loss reasonably coming to the Swan Districts. That loss came by just a solitary point, so Subiaco have the runs on the board, but they face a tough task in Claremont this week. Claremont finally found themselves back on the right side of the results with a win in Round 13 after a massive losing streak. When they’re on, they can beat plenty of teams, and they will certainly be brimming with confidence this round. These two sides have had contrasting months, but who knows what will happen when they lock horns on Saturday afternoon.

Picture credit: WA Football

Bennett enjoying season after “difficult” 2020 season

WHEN your first draft-eligible year rolls around and you are in the State Academy, the AFL Women’s Championships are the pinnacle of state representation. For Claremont’s Emily Bennett, last year – her second in the Academy – was meant to be the year where she tested herself against the best in the country and put her best foot forward.

Instead, like most of the country, travel was restricted, seasons were cut short, and the championships completely abandoned due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fast forward 12 months, and Bennett has finally got to represent her state, running out in each of the three games for Western Australia at the championships.

“It (2020) was definitely difficult because it was my second year of state was last year and I was so keen to just smash it out and it was like a year I was hoping for because I could have been drafted last year as well,” Bennett said. “It was pretty tough, because fitness had dropped off because I didn’t have many people to train with so I’m glad it’s happening this year, but it was definitely hard.”

Bennett cited fitness as an ongoing improvement she could make to her game, to be able to “last the full game”, whilst her ability to clunk grabs and run off half-back – be it through or around people – as some of her impressive traits.

“I would say my main strength would be my clean hands, so being sure I’m still able to get some clean marks and under foot I’d say it’s definitely one of my strengths, going through people,” Bennett said.

The talented teenager was like many other sports-mad people growing up, testing herself at a variety of sports before focusing on Aussie rules where she progressed from local football to her WAFL Women’s club.

“I started footy when I was in Year 7 so high school,” Bennett said. “It was just a fun carnival and I was playing netball, basketball and I did a little bit of athletics at the time. “I just thought I’d give it a go, loved it, so I started at my community club and then got invited to go to West Perth, one of the WAFL clubs and have been recently playing for Claremont for League.”

Bennett said while the step up to League might have been daunting, the fact she had entered the State Academy prior to playing a game made the transition all the more easier for her to adapt and feel like she belonged at the level before stepping on-field.

“I was quite a fresh player only having four years behind me,” she said. “It was pretty nerve wracking, but getting in the State Academy before League, I felt really ready and it was such a great experience.”

Being able to not only train with the State Academy, but to travel to South Australia and Victoria with them to finally get a taste of the national carnival, Bennett said she enjoyed every minute of it, and was as much about having fun with like-minded people as it was about developing to be the best possible player.

“I would say all the time it’s such a fun place, people to play with, being able to play with people you can trust because they’re just all so elite and they’re all such nice girls,” she said. “It’s definitely what I look forward to and come back each year and do the same.”

As for her inspirations, Bennett said she had to thank her parents for enabling her to achieve what she had so far, and if she can make it to the top level, it would be as pleasing to somewhat repay the faith as it would be exciting for Bennett herself.

“Mum and dad, I would just love to show them what I got,” she said. “I want to prove to them, they’ve always been there for me in any sport I’ve ever done. “They’re definitely people who inspire me.”

As for her goals in football, naturally AFL Women’s is the ultimate goal for the tough defender, but if her career remains at WAFL Women’s level, then Bennett will still have the one goal within her control – becoming the best footballer she can.

WAFLW Player Focus: Amy Franklin (Claremont)

PLAYING a crucial role in her sides win against South Fremantle, WA’s Amy Franklin continued what has been an impressive year where she has announced herself as one of the top WA prospects in the upcoming 2021 AFLW Draft. A representative at Under 19’s level for WA in the recent National Championships, Franklin has shown consistently she can play up either end to great success, an aspect of her game which is sure to see either of Fremantle or West Coast more than happy to bring her onboard. With the WAFLW season coming to a close shortly, and Claremont needing the win as they prepare for some difficult fixtures against fellow top 4 sides Subiaco and Peel Thunder, Franklin was placed up forward and through the ruck for the game.

PLAYER PROFILE:

AMY FRANKLIN | CLAREMONT (WEST PERTH)
4/02/2003 | TALL UTILITY

One of the most highly rated WA Draft Prospects for the 2021 AFLW Draft, Franklin is a tall player capable of playing as a Defender, Ruck or Forward, making her a valuable asset to any team she’s apart of given her versatility. This versatility saw her fill roles as both a Key Position Defender and Forward in the recent NAB AFLW U19 Championships, when WA clashed with the Allies and VIC Metro. Some of Franklins most impressive traits are her athleticism for her height, with her speed, agility and leap all high level and her marking, especially above head, complimenting her preferred position as a Key Position Forward.

 

ROUND 13 WAFLW v South Fremantle

Q1:

Starting the quarter inside 50, Franklin was up the wrong end to have an impact early as South Fremantle controlled the play to keep it in their forward half. She followed her opponent up the ground and laid a smother to stop the ball getting sent back inside defensive 50 about four minutes in. Her first bit pf possession resulted in the first goal of the game, taking advantage of some quick ball movement from Claremont to take an overhead mark just behind her opponent, an impressive grab for the wet conditions, and kicked truly to put it straight through the middle. In the latter stages of the quarter she moved into the ruck, coming up against fellow WA Under 19’s representative Lauren Wakfer, with neither able to get a clear win in the contests they were against each other for.

Ending the quarter with 1 kick, 1 mark, 1 goal and 1 hitout it was not a quarter with big numbers for Franklin, but there is no doubting she had a big impact at times.

 

Q2:

A similar quarter positionally to the last, Franklin started in the forward 50 early and then moved into the ruck, back into the forward 50. Was more involved overall in the second, pushing up the ground early and getting two handballs up on the wing, where she won it on the inside and then got it out to teammates running past. She then reaped the rewards of some hard work by Claremont, where there was a turnover forced through pressure in the forward 50, and she got the handball from a teammate and snapped her second for the game from about 35 out, then running to the bench for her rotation. Came back on as a Ruck and competed well against Wakfer, winning one hitout where she collected it at ground level and kicked it long for the clearance.

Finishing with 3 Kicks, 3 handballs, 1 clearance, 1 goal and 2 hitouts she certainly had higher numbers in the second quarter, but her willingness to go in and compete for the contested footy was particularly impressive and gave Claremont some additional strength at ground level in the forward half.

 

Q3:  

Impacted mostly by the team looking to take advantage of the wind and bomb it long, Franklin was often in a good position for a handball around contests in the forward half but was rarely used. She also looked to push up the ground a bit more in the third, providing as a switch option at one stage, where she got used and quickly sent Claremont forward with a well placed kick. Positioned well just outside the 50-metre mark when it was locked in the Claremont 50, being around the ball as it spilled out and getting the one kick the set up a scoring opportunity

Collected the 2 kicks, 1 handball, 1 mark and 1 tackle in the third where once again she was thrown about from forward to ruck, and spent more time on the bench than she had done in the previous two quarters.

 

Q4:

Looking dangerous early, Franklin was unfortunately forced off for an extended period due to what appeared to be a rolled ankle but powered through to come back on and get a few more touches. What was most impressive was her ability to hold her feet in a groundball contest, which lead to the injury, but was showed good strength and endeavour to remain standing. Once again got into the right spots but unfortunately wasn’t used even when she was the best option.

Franklin collected 3 handballs and 1 mark in the final term despite the reduced time on ground and not getting her usual run through the ruck, with her handballs again looking to find teammates already on the run and placed in front of them.

 

SUMMARY:

13 Disposals, 6 Kicks, 7 Handballs, 3 Marks, 1 Tackle, 1 Clearance, 3 Hitouts, 2 Goals

For a player positioned mostly as a Forward, Franklin had a respectable showing with her stat line, maintaining a consistent impact on the game with her roaming up the ground on the wings, trying to present as a switch option for her teammates. When she was used her ball use was good, whilst not always hitting teammates directly is was always put to their advantage so that they could run onto the ball and collect it easily. Franklin was not used as the main target inside 50 which certainly gave her less opportunity than she could have gotten, but it was obvious the opposition were wary of her, playing Fremantle listed Mim Strom on her at various stages of the game. Franklin’s athleticism for her height is obvious, with her agility one of her more impressive traits for the game.