WAFLW Round 3 preview: Tigers and Sharks clash in undefeated battle

AT least one winless side will add a win to their 2022 West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s campaign, whilst two undefeated sides will also clash in a massive weekend. Whilst reigning champions Peel Thunder have the bye, the other three games are broken up into the the two highest sides – Claremont and East Fremantle – middle teams – South Fremantle and Subiaco – and the two bottom teams – Swan Districts and West Perth – for what should be an entertaining weekend of WAFL Women’s.

  • Team
  • South Fremantle
  • Subiaco

Under lights at Fremantle Oval, South Fremantle will look to bounce back from its loss to Peel Thunder, to add another defeat to Subiaco tonight. The Bulldogs have made a number of changes to the side that fought hard for three quarters but relented in the last quarter, with six confirmed outs. Among them are midfielder Lauren Vecchio and forward Hunter Cronin who have been in great form to start the season. But in saying that, South Fremantle has bolsted its lineup with a number of key inclusions, with AFLW Academy member and forward Ashleigh Reidy, AFLW-experienced defender Lauren Gauci, and consistent ball-winner and wing Kiara Templeman all returning.

Subiaco also has a few key changes with AFLW-listed players Beth Schilling and Maggie Maclachlan both out, leaving the Lions a little exposed in defence. Into the side comes young gun Madison Dodd, as well as more experienced tall Jamie Rust, and Caitlin Walker. Subiaco will look to win more of the midfield possession this week to allow Jayme Harken to have more impact forward of centre rather than having to mop up in defence. She, along with Lara Filocamo and Madizen Wilkins are an experienced midfield group, whilst Tarnica Golisano has been named as one to help steady the defence with the loss of that experience. Wing Amy Mulholland has been named at half-forward, whilst Jessica Ritchie will be looking to have a big game up forward.

For the Bulldogs, the combination of Lauren Wakfer and Ashleigh Reidy will be a handful for opposition defences, and especially for the Lions who have lost both Maclachlan and Schilling who would have taken the matchups. Also in there is dangerous small forward Noa McNaughton, whist Templeman and Tanika Bradley are a strong wing combination. In defence, Casey Byrne was outstanding last week on the last line, and she and Gauci, along with Tahlia Holtze make it an experienced defence.

The game should be a thriller and Subiaco have the midfield experience to do a lot of damage, but South Fremantle’s bookends look incredibly strong and settle, and therefore the Bulldogs probably have the marginal upper hand in this clash.

  • Team
  • Swan Districts
  • West Perth

Two sides yet to notch up a ‘W’ this season, last year’s grand finalists Swan Districts will be keen to bounce back from consecutive losses to add another big defeat to West Perth’s rough initiation to the WAFL Women’s competition this year. The Falcons went down to South Fremantle by 74 points and only had one inside 50 in that game, so the only way is up from Round 3 onwards. After a week off, the Falcons will have had plenty of time to reassess ahead of this clash, whilst the Swans are yet to crack through despite a far better effort against East Fremantle this week, following a big loss to Claremont in Round 1.

West Perth has only brought in a couple of players with Grace Betti and Tarzara Kelly, who replaced State Academy members Megan Norbury and Chloe Shearing, with the latter pair named as emergencies. The Falcons remain an unknown quantity until they get a few games into the season, but after not scoring in Round 1, it will be a tough ask to push a known experienced side in Swan Districts. The reigning grand finalists have potentially lost Sarah Wielstra, Shanae Davison and Bianca Webb, but have regained the likes of Lauren Osborne, Sonia Dorizzi and Taylor Pescud into the side.

The wing clash between fellow State Academy members Megan Norbury and Tara Stribley will be one not to be missed, whilst Kayla Van Den Heever will have the tough job of trying to contain Swan Districts captain Jessica Cox at the stoppages. Though the Falcons are the youngest side in the competition with an average age at 18.5, the likes of Liliana Grassenis, Nicole Bombardieri and Kayla Stagg showed promising signs last week. Fremantle AFLW-listed forward Ashley Sharp plays her 100th game for Swan Districts to give the home team that extra motivation. The defensive combination of Osborne, Mel Hardy, Jaime Henry, Aimee Ralph and Eliza Gelmi is also rock solid, whilst Emily McGuire could be in for a big day if she lines up at full-forward.

Swan Districts should get on the board pretty comfortably in this one, the Swans were competitive last week against East Fremantle, and will be too experienced for the Falcons, who will be aiming for a more competitive match than Round 1.

  • Team
  • Claremont
  • East Fremantle

Two relatively settled sides in Claremont and East Fremantle complete the round with the Tigers looking to make it win number three for the season, whilst the Sharks will hope to go back-to-back after winning in Round 2, their first game of the season. The Tigers have brought back Tess Blackburn, as well as Sarah Viney for her first of the season, with Brianna Green and Matilda Sergeant named as outs pending AFLW selection. The Sharks have added plenty to an extended bench with Kate Inglis-Hodge among three outs from the side. Of though coming in, bottom-age talent Anjelique Raison is a name to remember, whilst Torrens Revell showed some promising signs last year.

The East Fremantle forward line has plenty of future potential, with Raison joining bottom-age AFLW Academy member Georgie Cleaver, over-age forward Julia Teakle – who slotted three goals last eek – and Under 16s excitement machine Zippy Fish all inside 50. The Claremont defence is far more experienced with Madeleine Scanlon, Brooke Hongell and Claire Ortlepp there, with teenagers Matilda Dyke and Mackenzie Webb holding down the key posoition spots.

The midfield battles are just as exciting, with the wing clash between the lightning quick Mikayla Western and the dynamic Mylee Leitch a must-watch, whilst Ella Smith, Sasha Goranova and Emily Elkington take on the likes of Ashleigh Gomes and Sharon Wong. The Claremont forward line has fired the first two weeks, with Katherine Bennett returning last week to slot two majors alongside Brooke Whyte, as well as the dangerous Tessa Doumanis, whilst Alex Williams will hold down full back for the Sharks.

Claremont should have a bit more experience to get over the line and make it three consecutive wins to start the 2022 WAFLW season, but East Fremantle has plenty of exciting young talent to make it a show.

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