Tag: waflw

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WAFL WOMEN’S ROUND 3 FIXTURES:

Saturday, March 6:

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

Sunday, March 7:

Claremont vs. South Fremantle @ Revo Fitness Stadium

Picture credit: Owen Davies/Peel Thunder

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

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

Emily Bennett (Claremont)

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

Jess Cox (Swan Districts)

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

Dana East (Swan Districts)

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

Emily Elkington (Claremont)

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

Bella Edgley (Swan Districts)

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

Amy Franklin (Claremont)

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

Jaime Henry (Swan Districts)

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

Sarah Lakay (Swan Districts)

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

Emma Nanut (Swan Districts)

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

Angelique Raison (East Fremantle)

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

Chloe Reilly (East Fremantle)

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

Poppy Stockwell (South Fremantle)

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

Tara Stribley (Swan Districts)

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

Rosie Walsh (East Fremantle)

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

Sarah Wielstra (Swan Districts)

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

Picture credit: Tony Lendrum Photography

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture credit: Tony Lendrum Photography

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Picture: WAFL

Top Performers: Around the Country – WAFLW Round 1

IN the first week where multiple Under 18s competitions have run, we introduce a new article titled ‘Around the Country: Top Performers’. For this week we take a look at the West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s competition and see who impressed on the weekend, with a focus on West Australian State Academy members or Draft Combine invitees from last year.

>> NAB League Girls Top Performers from Round 3

WAFL Women’s:

With two games footage accessible, we viewed Peel Thunder’s win over East Fremantle, and Swan Districts’ victory over Claremont and noted down the top performers.

Jade Briggs (Peel Thunder)

A quick thinker with quick disposal and a lovely left foot, Briggs is a danger inside 50. She finished with two majors including a long goal that flew over the back of a pack. Her vision and placement in the match was impressive as well and is yet another Peel talented teenager.

Bella Edgley (Swan Districts)

Edgley always looked busy inside 50 with raw talent. Her first few kicks inside 50 went astray to defenders, but she was looking dangerous. Then she took a strong one-on-one mark and converted the set shot from 35m out, before dribbling home a second goal from a tight angle. Rushed a flying shot in the third term to kick it out on the full, but certainly caught attention with her X-factor.

Amy Franklin (Claremont)

Like a blank canvas, Franklin is a player with high potential and one who could go far given her attributes. She has high-level athleticism for a tall forward, and while she can clunk her marks, she is even better at ground level, as she showed in kicking the first goal of the game by bursting away and taking a few bounces to kick a major from point-blank range. A powerful kick, Franklin is not afraid to get her hands dirty, spoiling an opponent in her attacking goalsquare front on but only connecting with the ball to try and kick it off the ground but ran out of space.

Jess Low (Claremont)

One of the AFL Women’s Draft Combine invitees last year, Low has used the extra preseason to prepare for an extra season of building on her game. She had a terrific game on the weekend and was constantly involved in midfield. Low cracks in hard and puts her body on the line, and is not afraid to lay some big tackles on opponents. At times her kicks went a bit wide and missed targets, but her disposal is becoming more consistent, with a clean kick inside 50 in the fourth term to a teammate on the lead.

Emma Nanut (Swan Districts)

Plays traditionally in defence but can have an impact further up the field, Nanut won her touches in a variety of positions. She is one who assesses her options before disposing of it, she attempts inboard passes to open the game up. Nanut did well in a one-on-one close to the line in the fourth term to avoid a late goal going the way of the Tigers.

Rachel Ortlepp (Claremont)

A reliable defender already tasked with the kick-out duties, Ortlepp just mopped up her team’s messes in the back half and was consistent with her ball-use. Even though she did fumble a mark at one stage in the third term, her recovery to pick it up and give it off was crucial. A real rock, deep in defence that could also push up and provide a high line. Ortlepp also showed good penetration with her kicks.

Chloe Reilly (East Fremantle)

Did not have a huge impact on the game, but a telling moment came 13 minutes into the third term where she slid in to take a good mark just inside 50. Known for her set shot goalkicking, Reilly kicks through the ball, though the ball fell marginally short. Over the off-season Reilly has added size to her frame in order to compete even better in one-on-one contests.

Ella Roberts (Peel Thunder)

Wow, just wow. It is hard to comprehend what the talented 16-year-old is able to do at such a young age, especially given she only turned 16 in December. Her ability to read the play, sidestep more experienced opponents, clunk contested marks and slot miracle goals, she is a human highlight reel who is not eligible to be drafted until 2023, but will be worth the wait. Roberts kicked two goals in the first half and set up some more before being tagged by the opposition before she could get any more off the chain. An elite talent.

Courtney Rowley (Peel Thunder)

Just had her moments on the weekend, and while she is lightly built, is just clean and clever, able to work through traffic with minimal fuss. She had a few chances on goal in the final term but missed, though her highlight came earlier when she was being tackled but still got a handball off to a teammate which enabled them to have a shot on goal. A top prospect for 2020.

Beth Schilling (Peel Thunder)

An athletic ruck who showed some promising potential. Her competitiveness in the air with a good vertical leap was noteworthy, and her attack on the football was great. She had a couple of shots on goal that either fell short or she opted to pass, but as a raw talent she showed some good signs coming through the Thunder program.

Tara Stribley (Swan Districts)

The outside player provided some good run and carry across the ground, and is incredibly quick to put the boot to ball, A couple of times her kicks forward were picked off by the opposition half-backs, but then showed her skill later on with a lovely kick from half-back to bend around her body and hit a target as Stribley was being bumped. Possesses terrific acceleration which she loves to use.

 

Picture credit: Owen Davies / Peel Thunder

Sharks youth set to shine in 2021

A NEW squad that has changed “dramatically”, coached by a fresh face, and a new role for one of its talented up-and-coming youngsters in Rosie Walsh has East Fremantle buoyant about the season ahead. The Sharks were back-to-back premiers in 2018-19 and then preliminary final losers last season in the West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s competition, but are now firmly focused on a fresh season which is much earlier than usual.

For Walsh who received a Draft Combine invite last year after stepping up to the League side, she has enjoyed the preseason and meeting new faces as the experienced Sharks prepare for most of the season without their AFL Women’s talent.

“It’s actually been really good,” Walsh said of the preseason. “We had a new coach so that’s been really good. “It’s been a bit of a change, trying some new footy styles with a different coach, and we’ve had a really different team to last season. It’s changed dramatically, but I reckon it’s changed in a good way, see some fresh faces.”

“We haven’t been hit by COVID too bad (this season). “We missed out on one week of training, (but) luckily games hadn’t started then, so I reckon that we honestly got it easy compared to all the other states who have had it bad. “It’s been really good, the girls got to do their training from home for that week, and we all came back and we’re eager to get back into it for Round 1 coming this weekend. “I don’t think that’s stopped us from getting where we want to be which is good.”

New coach Simon Quayle knows just how formidable the Sharks can be, having coached against them as Subiaco’s mentor in the 2018 West Australian Women’s Football League (WAWFL) Grand Final. Walsh said Quayle had come in and put an emphasis on skills and decision making, something that the Sharks have identified as an area to focus on with so many new players in the team.

“His (Quayle’s) coaching style is working on skills a lot more,” Walsh said. “Hitting those targets, working on our kicking, on our handpasses, just those really basic skills that those little things that will get you to where you want to be. “I reckon switching different coaching styles is hard, but I reckon it’s been really good with the new coach and from winning two premierships in a row, and going down last year in the prelim, I think that working as a team honestly and getting that really club culture going, is what we’re working on really hard.”

For Walsh herself, she has not let missing out on the draft worry her as she focuses on a new role – in the ruck – for the 2021 season. Having played predominantly as a key forward and aiding the ruck when the ball was inside 50, Walsh has identified that fitness and her ruck craft were key areas to base her preseason improvements around.

“Getting to every contest, getting my first hand on the ball which would be really good, getting that front position, my bodywork, building that strength in my arms and my core so I can jump higher and get my hands on the ball first,” Walsh said. “That’s what I’m working on, getting my ruck work up to scratch.”

Despite being bundled out of the 2020 WAFL Women’s finals series by the Thunder, Walsh said the team had not changed their thought process or how they wanted to play any differently knowing that Peel was their opponent for Round 1. Walsh said both teams had changed, but the Sharks were also experienced in how the Thunder played, and had to play at their best to try and stop them.

“I don’t really think that anything changed when we knew we were playing Peel,” she said. “I think we didn’t think about Peel, we were thinking about what we needed to do to win the game, what we needed to do as a team, what we needed to do to improve. “With half a new team, it’s going to be different with having those new faces and obviously not played together before.”

With so many new faces coming into the team from either the East Fremantle Reserves or Rogers Cup sides, or returning from a year off, Walsh said there were plenty of names to keep an eye on in 2020. Specifically, Walsh said ruck/forward Laura McClelland stepping up from the Reserves last season, and Mia Schleicher and Mylee Leitch coming in from the Rogers Cup team. Rachel Ashley – who played in the 2019 League Grand Final – returns after a year off to add extra strength to the forward line.

“Mia Schleicher, it’s her first year playing League as well, she played Colts last year and I definitely think she is a gun to look out for,” Walsh said. “Her sister plays for Collingwood, Ruby Schleicher. “I definitely think she will have some experience there coming into our League team.

Mylee Leitch, she has come up from the Colts, she has gone into the League team, she’s a small forward, really kick and knows how to put the ball through the sticks, she is pretty good.”

East Fremantle will call upon its youth and depth like every WAFL Women’s side this season, when players such as Ruby Schleicher are out due to AFL Women’s commitments. Walsh said it would be “different” without the AFLW talent, but said it was a double-edged sword in that regard.

“It’s going to be different without the AFL Women’s players, because obviously with their experience and expertise of the game, that really helps with their leadership qualities, but I also think it’s a good opportunity for us to have some of the Under 18s players, the Colts players come up and play in the League team,” Walsh said. “It gives other girls opportunities to play at that level which they’ve always wanted to do. “It’s always good to bring in new talent and bring in experienced players into the League team to potentially, who knows where they’ll end up.

“It’s really good to see the new faces and some of the girls have been down there which is good, because they’re still getting around the club, still helping do some training and coaching, but they’re just not going to be playing with us, which is unfortunate, but I think it’s really cool but I think we get to see a lot of other girls come through to the club.”

For Walsh, she still has her eyes on the ultimate prize – getting drafted – with the 20-year-old a late developer and one who is constantly improving areas of her game to be a more complete player.

“I definitely by the 2021 Draft, I would hope to get drafted to an AFL club,” Walsh said. “That would be number one. “But even just improving myself as a footy player, so working on my ruckwork as I said, I haven’t played ruck for a whole season before, so this is going to be my first season, so being the best ruck that I can. “Being the number one ruck in the team which should be great, and also just building my culture for myself and building the team so we can become one and have that strong community.”

East Fremantle take on Peel Thunder at David Grays Arena on Saturday, February 20 from 5pm local time (8pm AEDST).

Picture credit: East Fremantle Women’s Facebook

South Fremantle keen to become a destination club

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Claremont prepared for 2021 despite shortened preseason

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture credit: Tony Lendrum Photography

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

2020 State League Women’s premiers: Roosters, Thunder, Devils and Blues claim titles in memorable year

AS Australian rules football teams begin to head back to preseason training for another long year, we take a look back at the four major state league women’s competitions and the premiers from 2020. In a roll call of those who tasted ultimate glory, we reminisce with North Adelaide (SANFLW), Peel thunder (WAFLW), Yeronga South Brisbane (QAFLW) and Launceston (TSLW). We have provided a snippet from their big days, and a link back to each of the respective match reports.

SANFL Women’s:

North Adelaide 5.5 (35) defeated South Adelaide 4.4 (28)

NORTH Adelaide completed an unblemished season to win the 2020 South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s premiership in an epic contest against back-to-back premiers, South Adelaide. In what was truly a fitting grand final, the Roosters held off a late Panthers charge and made the most of their chances in front of goal to salute, 5.5 (35) to 4.4 (28) at Thebarton Oval.

[ … FULL MATCH REPORT … ]

WAFL Women’s: 

Peel Thunder 4.4 (28) defeated Subiaco 2.1 (13)

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

[ … FULL MATCH REPORT … ]

QAFL Women’s: 

Yeronga South Brisbane 8.8 (56) defeated Coolangatta Tweed 1.3 (9)

AFTER conceding the first goal of the game, it was all Yeronga South Brisbane as the Queensland Australian Football League (QAFL) Women’s side claimed a remarkable 47-point win over Coolangatta Tweed. The Devils had a terrific back-end of the season, coming from fourth on the table to defeat danger side Coorparoo in the elimination final, then the top two teams in succession, from minor premiers Bond University last week and the Bluebirds in the decider.

[ … FULL MATCH REPORT … ]

TSL Women’s:

Launceston 2.1 (13) defeated Glenorchy 0.6 (6)

LAUNCESTON has claimed the 2020 Tasmanian State League (TSL) Women’s premiership with a seven-point victory over Glenorchy at UTAS Stadium on Saturday. The result marked Launceston’s third women’s flag and redeemed their heartbreaking Grand Final defeat to Clarence last season. North Melbourne AFL Women’s player Mia King was sensational in the midfield and rightly awarded the medal for best on ground.

[ … FULL MATCH REPORT … ]

Picture credit: Owen Davies/Peel Thunder