WAFLW Round 6 preview: Changes galore as teams lose State Academy members

THE majority of the top-age West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s State Academy members will miss out on Round 6 as the Sandgropers continue their preparations for the upcoming 2022 AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships. We take a look at the three games taking place, which includes a Fremantle derby and the in-form Claremont looking to inflict more pain to Peel Thunder.

  • Team
  • West Perth
  • Subiaco

Sunday, March 27 @ 12:30pm
Provident Financial Oval

After a fourth heavy loss, West Perth will look for further improvement when the Falcons host Subiaco who are fresh off a bye a sitting just one win ahead of them in sixth. The Lions have only picked up the one victory this year, which came against South Fremantle back in Round 3. They have named an extended bench for the clash, with the likes of Iesha Farmer, Tara Garlett and Rianna Matulin coming into the side for the first time this year. The Falcons have lost their top two standout youngsters in State Academy members Kayla Van Den Heever and Liliana Grassenis, but have regained a couple from Under 16s level after their trial with Megan Norbury and Chloe Shearing both coming into the side.

Subiaco will be heavy favourites for this one, and like any side looking to compete for finals, will want a percentage boost to go with it. The experience through the middle of Jayme Harken, Tarnica Golisano, Ellie Blackmore, Helen Taylor and Madizen Wilkins will be too much for the young Falcons. West Perth does have a determined defece that does its best under pressure, with Kayla Stagg, Jessica Roper, Jaymee Duke and Nicole Bombardieri all doing their best under the circumstances. Subiaco should win easily, but the key for West Perth is just gradual improvement, and keeping the opposition to under 10 goals could be an example of a way to build going forward.

  • Team
  • East Fremantle
  • South Fremantle

Sunday, March 27 @ 2pm
New Choice Homes Park

The Fremantle derby sees the unbeaten East Fremantle host its cross-town rivals South Fremantle, who has now suffered three consecutive losses since a historic first club win over West Perth in Round 1. Though often competitive for the most part and almost pulling off an upset at times, the Bulldogs are still working on playing four full quarters. The same cannot be said for the Sharks, who are firmly in premiership content. Though they technically sit second for now. Claremont is just holding the pole position warm until next week when the Tigers finally have their bye. East Fremantle have lost State Academy members Georgie Cleaver and Anjelique Raison, ruck Marni Alston and midfielder Beth Beckett for the clash. On the other side, the Bulldogs will be without a quartet of young guns including AFLW Academy ruck Lauren Wakfer, and State Academy teammates, wingers Jess Verbrugge and Tanika Bradley, and small forward Noa McNaughton.

East Fremantle is looking to extend its winning streak to five in this game, and have a stacked midfield with Sharon Wong and Ashleigh Gomes among the most in-form one-two punch in the league. Abbey Amaranti and Doma Fedele have both seamlessly transitioned into the side providing good run and carry, whilst up forward, Larissa Versaci, Julia Teakle and Mylee Leitch are joined by inclusion, Emmelie Fiedler. South Fremantle’s Casey Byrne has been a rock at full-back, with Sheridan Kowald coming in to provide support this week. Also returning to the Bulldogs is the talented Tahlia Holtze for an important onball clash, and the dynamic forward duo of Rosie Anderson and Poppy Stockwell, alongside debutant Leila Fotu. Expect the Sharks to be too strong, but the Bulldogs should challenge them for the most part.

  • Team
  • Claremont
  • Peel Thunder

Sunday, March 27 @ 2pm
Revo Fitness Stadium

Top of the table Claremont will have a week off next round, so will be keen to asset their authority against a Peel Thunder side that has dropped off the past couple of weeks with back-to-back defeats at the hands of East Fremantle and Swan Districts. The Thunder do need a win with the 1-3 Subiaco set for a percentage boost against West Perth. A victory would see them edge closer in terms of percentage, sitting 58 per cent off the third placed Swans. The Tigers on the other hand have a whopping 456.67 per cent, and are conceding a measly average of 12 points per game despite having a loss. Claremont will be without injured ruck Adele Arnup, forward Eva Campo, and State Academy members Emily Elkington and Mackenzie Webb. They do regain some experience with Sarah Garstone and Jacinta Valentini back into the lineup. Peel has also had to make a number of changes in the wake of a host of State Academy members out including Kaitlyn Srhoj, Bella Mann, Emily Gunton and Megan Bain. They have some important troops return though, with winger Jaide Britton and inside midfielder Gracie Fenton both returning for the clash.

The midfield is where this game could be won and lost, with Fenton, Chloe Wrigley and Ebony Bilcich going up against the likes of Sasha Goranova, Sarah Viney and Mhicca Carter. The head-to-heads on the wing sees the duo of Britton and Dowson up against the equally damaging Katherine Orme and Mikayla Western who are in terrific form. The Tigers also have a stacked forward line with Brooke Whyte, Katherine Bennett and Tessa Doumanis all in good form, whilst the Thunder have the one-two punch of competition leading goalkicker Kate Bartlett, and Kira Phillips up the other end. If the Tigers can stop them, they should win, whilst the Thunder will need to contain the Claremont run on the outside in order to get the job done.

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