WAFLW Round 1 preview: Falcons fly into league

A NEW West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s season has a new side entering the competition, with West Perth joining the half-dozen established sides to make it a seven team competition in 2022. They take over the newcomers mantle from their opponent this week in South Fremantle, whilst reigning back-to-back premiers Peel Thunder unfurl the 2021 flag against Subiaco, and grand finalists Swan Districts begins its season of redemption on the road against Claremont. With a bye each round and every team having three for the season, East Fremantle is the first team to have the week off.

We preview the three clashes to open the 2022 WAFL Women’s season.

  • Team
  • Peel Thunder
  • Subiaco

Saturday, February 19 @ 5:30pm
Lane Group Stadium

It seems fitting that reigning back-to-back premiers Peel Thunder open the 2022 WAFL Women’s season, set to host fellow finalists, Subiaco. The Thunder again looks the team to beat this year, though in Round 1 they will be without star youngster Ella Roberts.

The Thunder have a strong midfield that features Gracie Fenton, Ebony Bilcich and Chloe Wrigley, with running wingers Jaide Britton and Bailey Molloy on the outside. The potent forward line – even without Roberts looks dangerous, as Kate Bartlett and Kira Phillips provide the marking targets, whilst the talented Krystal Carter looms in the pocket. In defence, the reliability of Cassie Davidson and Ebony Dowson and supported by the youth of Bella Mann and Tanisha Anderson.

Subiaco has some fresh faces in the squad, with Helen Taylor and Amy Mulholland both set to make their mature-age debuts in the League alongside the outstanding Lara Filocamo in the midfield. Up front, Dahna Lee and Hanna Dethlefsen line-up with Madizen Wilkens a familiar face for the Lions. In defence, the half-back line of Jayme Harken, Maggie Maclachlan and Tarnica Golisano is superb, whilst ex-Swan Districts forward Nyra Anderson is set to make her Subiaco debut in the clash.

Peel Thunder looks to have the overall experience and continuity to get the job done here, with the Subiaco defence up against the Thunder forwardline, one to watch.

  • Team
  • South Fremantle
  • West Perth

Sunday, February 20 @ 11:00am
Fremantle Community Bank Oval

The WAFL Women’s two newest sides will clash in a historic match for more than one reason. Not only will the game mark West Perth’s first ever League match in the women’s competition, but it means for the first time, at least one of the teams will gain premiership points. Yet to secure a win – or even a draw – in two seasons – South Fremantle will be hungry to asset its authority on the new kids on the lock, whilst the Falcons would dearly love to have a win in their inaugural game. Either way, one team will grab their first points of their history.

The Falcons are an unknown quantity coming into the clash, but a couple of names to keep an eye on included defenders, Liliana Grassenis and Chloe Shearing, as well as young ruck Kayla Van Den Heever. The midfield that features Teal Bennett and Megan Norbury should also be a feature of the Falcons’ overall game, but more will emerge about them, and who stands out in the coming weeks.

South Fremantle has now had two seasons to adapt to League level, and should be much better for the experience. The Bulldogs have an abundance of young talent at their disposal, headlined by AFLW Academy members Lauren Wakfer and Ashleigh Reidy. The South Fremantle forward line not only contains that duo, but other youngsters Emily Boothman and Hunter Cronin. Up the other end of the ground, Ebony Clarkson is in defence with the likes of Pia Durk and Aaliyah Ugle, whilst Lauren Vecchio again headlines the midfield with Kiara Templeman.

A hard one to tip, but the South Fremantle side should be favourites given its experience in the League, but West Perth would be eyeing this head-to-head off as one that is winnable for the Falcons.

  • Team
  • Claremont
  • Swan Districts

Sunday, February 20 @ 12:30pm
Revo Fitness Stadium

Closing out the weekend’s action at Revo Fitness Stadium, another couple of 2021 finalists clash, with runners-up Swan Districts travelling to take on Claremont. Both sides have quality players across the board, with Swan Districts’ depth having been enviable over the last couple of years despite not yet getting the chocolates. They won 13 in a row to start the season last year, and only dropped games to Peel Thunder, something the Swans will be keen to arrest in 2022.

Though they have lost Anderson to Subiaco, they welcome Fremantle AFLW talent and recent mother Ashley Sharp who took the 2022 season off for her maternity. She lines up with super boot Emily McGuire inside 50, whilst Naomi Baker is a young talent to keep an eye on. New captain Jess Cox headlines a super young midfield with the likes of Tara Stribley, Abbygail Bushby and Mel Hardy alongside the more experienced Aimee Ralph and Demi Liddle. In defence, Jaime Henry is one to remember for next year’s AFLW draft, whilst Eliza Gelmi and Lauren Osborne are more experienced faces in the black and whites team.

Claremont will go into the match with plenty of AFLW or League experience. Sarah Garstone, Mhicca Carter and Tessa Doumanis are among a dangerous front five, with last year’s Dhara Kerr medallist Ella Smith set to battle her opposing captain, Cox in the middle. Sasha Goranova and Brianna Green round out a hardened onball brigade, with Katherine Orme on a wing, and the talented Claire Ortlepp in defence.

Swan Districts will be favourites given its season last year, but it would not be a surprise to see Claremont win at home given the experience in the Tigers’ lineup.

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