WAFLW Round 2 preview: Sharks enter, Bulldogs to test bite against benchmark

EAST Fremantle enters the West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s competition for the first time this season in Round 2, as another three big games get underway. Whilst newcomers West Perth will have to wait another week to bounce back from the 74-point loss to South Fremantle, given the Falcons have the bye, there are still plenty of intriguing storylines. The Bulldogs take on reigning premiers Peel Thunder, the Sharks tackle Swan Districts, and Subiaco hosts Claremont to try and get on the board in 2022.

  • Team
  • East Fremantle
  • Swan Districts

East Fremantle is an unknown quantity coming in to Round 2, having enjoyed an extra week’s rest ahead of the season thanks to a Round 1 bye. The Sharks tackle a seemingly lacklustre Swan Districts outfit, that lost some top-end talent over the off-season, and went down to Claremont by 52 points. The Swans have had to make a number of changes too, losing crucial players Lauren Osborne and Sarah Wielstra, whilst bringing in the likes of Taylor Pescud on an extended bench. The Sharks of course have 21 “ins” and the side looks pretty strong.

The Sharks have plenty of youth to keep an eye on with a couple of names being AFLW Academy member Georgie Cleaver, as well as future star Zippy Fish. Both are considered high-end prospects, whilst the likes of Anjelique Raison and Alli Nokes are others to remember. A battle on the wing between Mylee Leitch and Tara Stribley will be one to watch, with the East Fremantle on-ball brigade featuring the likes of Ashleigh Gomes, Madeline Ross and Sharon Wong. The visitors will look to captain Jess Cox as well as Demi Liddle, whilst teenagers Abbygail Bushby and Jaime Henry impressed in their first games last week.

It would be dangerous to write off Swan Districts in any match, but the loss last week, coupled with the crucial outs, means East Fremantle should be favourites at home, it will just be how the Sharks start coming off an extended break.

  • Team
  • Peel Thunder
  • South Fremantle

Peel Thunder escaped after a scare last week after unfurling the 2021 WAFL Women’s premiership flag, being on the back foot for the majority of the contest. The Thunder got out jail in the final 30 seconds to record a win, though it was hardly as comprehensive as the shellacking South Fremantle handed out to West Perth. If there was a way to bring up your first win in three seasons, the Bulldogs certainly showed how, running out 74-0 winners. It does mean the Bulldogs do not have any percentage and actually sit third on the table, but this battle will be far tougher.

The Bulldogs will not be helped by the loss of stars Lauren Gauci, Ashleigh Reidy and Kiara Templeman who all stood out in Round 1, with some young players such as Emily Boothman and Aaliyah Ugle coming into the side. Peel Thunder also lost a talented youngster in Bella Mann, with Megan Bain among four inclusions for the reigning premiers.

There is no denying South Fremantle looked the goods in Round 1, completely destroying the Falcons and limiting them to one inside 50. But this is a challenge on a whole new level, with the Thunder the benchmark of the competition the past 18 months. Peel’s midfield of Gracie Fenton, Ebony Bilcich and Chloe Wrigley, along with wings Jaide Britton and Bailey Molloy, have far more experience than the Falcons did, and it will be a big test for the likes of Tanika Bradley and Pia Durk to support Lauren Vecchio in the middle. Likewise, Ebony Clarkson and Tahlia Holtze will have big jobs to try and contain the Peel forward line that includes the likes of Kate Bartlett and Kira Phillips, whilst Lauren Wakfer will be the one to contain for the Thunder up the other end, and rotating through the ruck.

Though South Fremantle looked very impressive last week, Peel Thunder should be far too strong and experienced here.

  • Team
  • Subiaco
  • Claremont

In the final game of the round, Subiaco hosts Claremont in what should be the best of the lot. Subiaco lost no fans in its spirited defeat to Peel Thunder, almost seemingly home before the last 30 seconds. Claremont produced a massive victory over Swan Districts, and head into Round 2 top of the table and looking to establish themselves as the team to beat. Both the side have made minimal changes at the selection table, largely backing in the talent they have, and adding to the extended benches.

Wings Amy Mulholland and Tarnica Golisano were sensational for the Subiaco in the loss to the Thunder, providing the outside run to complement the work from Jayme Harken, Madizen Wilkins and Lara Filocamo. That midfield will clash with another strong, experienced core, that features the likes of Dhara Kerr medallist Ella Smith, AFLW-experienced Sasha Goranova and Katherine Orme and the speedy Mikayla Western. Nyra Anderson made a promising debut in her new Subiaco colours, and will again front up alongside the likes of Jessica Ritchie, whilst Matilda Dyke and Claire Ortlepp hold down the fort for the Tigers. Tessa Doumanis and Sarah Garstone are among the top Claremont forwards to keep an eye on, with AFLW-listed youngsters Beth Schilling and Maggie Maclachlan plying their trade for Subiaco at WAFL level.

Claremont looked the better of the sides last round, but Subiaco is just as well balanced. The most difficult game to predict for Round 2, the Tigers marginally get the tip.

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