WAFLW Round 7 preview: Sharks eye clean sweep as Thunder look to snap drought

UNDEFEATED East Fremantle will be out to complete a clean sweep of the West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s competition when Round 7 takes place this weekend. The Sharks travel to Subiaco tomorrow afternoon as the season hits its halfway mark. Peel Thunder will be out to snap a three-game losing streak when they clash with last placed West Perth, whilst Swan Districts fresh off a bye will lock horns with South Fremantle. Current ladder leaders Claremont has the bye this round.

  • Team
  • South Fremantle
  • Swan Districts

Saturday, April 2 @ 6pm
Community Bank Oval

Opening up the round is a huge Saturday night clash between the third placed Swan Districts and fifth placed South Fremantle. The Bulldogs are yet to pick up a second win triumphing over West Perth in Round 1, having sunk to five consecutive losses since then. The Swans had a counter-contrasting start to the year, dropping their first two games before winning the next three. They are still eight points adrift of the top two, but a win here would, at a minimum, draw the black and whites to within four points of Claremont. The Bulldogs could edge closer to Subiaco who will likely suffer defeat against East Fremantle, and though Peel Thunder is anticipated to defeat West Perth, the red and whites would remain in contention for fourth spot over the coming weeks.

South Fremantle have lost Tahlia Holtze and of course AFLW Academy ruck Lauren Wakfer fo the match, with the likes of Lauren Vecchio, Rebecca Torpy annd Emily Boothman the crucial inclusions. Swan Districts are coming off a bye which means they are fresh and ready to go, though the likes of Shannan Rene, Natalie House and Kaitlyn Beaton come in given the losses of Jaime Henry, Tyla Fitzgerald, Abbygail Bushby and Emma Nanut. Having strung together a couple of impressive games, Zoe Wakfer is one to watch, potentially having the big job on Ashley Sharp, whilst former State Academy members Poppy Stockwell and Isabella Edgley may cross pathes. Swan Districts should be too strong, but the losses of the State Academy members will be a big hit and may help the Bulldogs cause an upset.

  • Team
  • Peel Thunder
  • West Perth

Sunday, April 3 @ 1pm
Lane Group Stadium

It seems an eternity ago for Peel Thunder fans when they were 2-0 and equal top. They had two wins where they looked in real danger for the most part, getting up over Subiaco and South Fremantle, but then that luck ran out and have sunk to three consecutive losses at the hands of East Fremantle, Swan Districts and Claremont. The last team to take on West Perth, Peel Thunder has been yet to benefit from a percentage-boosting win, but the fact a half-strength Falcons side took it up bravely to Subiaco last week and kicked two goals – the most this season – showed they are starting to hit their straps. The reigning premiers have really been in a slump and a big win is just what the doctor ordered, but the Falcons will make life difficult for them having improved week on week.

West Perth has made a casual 16 changes following Health and Safety Protocols ripping through the team last week, which for those playing at home means only five players from last week are still in the lineup. Among the players to watch coming back in, Under 16s speedy winger Megan Norbury, and coming off her best game in Round 5, Jessica Roper return to the side with Jaymee Duke and Keely Byrne. They lose the likes of Karla Stagg, Nicole Bombardieri, Grace Betti and Chloe Shearing though, in what will be tough losses. Speaking of tough losses, Peel Thunder’s forward line will be vastly different, with Kira Phillips joining young star Ella Roberts in the outs, which will mean a huge job for Kate Bartlett and others to step up in the absence of West Australian State captain Bella Mann and fellow State Academy member Megan Bain. The Thunder do bring back the likes of Jade Briggs and Jorja Haines who have both been impressive in the forward half. Put simply the Thunder have the experience, and the midfield of Chloe Wrigley, Gracie Fenton and Ebony Bilcich onball and wingers Jaide Britton and Bailey Molloy is untouched and should be too strong for a young Falcons midfield, but great tests for Byrne, Roper, Norbury, Leuk Nelson Marsden and Chloe Smoker.

  • Team
  • Subiaco
  • East Fremantle

Sunday, April 3 @ 2pm
Leederville Oval

Two sides who have made minimal changes thanks to limited impact from the State Academy outs, Subiaco will look to break even from the first half of the season and move to 3-3, whilst the top of the ladder is all East Fremantle’s if the Sharks can win here. East Fremantle has defeated each of the other five teams, and despite an inferior percentage to Claremont, the win over the Tigers has allowed the Sharks to remain unbeaten since entering the season a week late, and will leapfrog them into top spot. A win to the Lions will not move them up give Swan Districts’ superior percentage, and the fat the black and whites will likely wi, but a loss would be dreadful for the fourth placed side, with Peel Thunder not only likely to win, but win well and steal fourth spot back after the first half of the season.

Subiaco has made two changes, with Claudia Langley and Jessica Ritchie coming into the side to replace Madison Dodd and Caitlin Walker. They have the one less change than East Fremantle due to the fact they do not have any State Academy members in their League side, though Dodd is an eye-catching youngster to watch. The Sharks of course lose AFLW Academy bottom-age ruck-forward Georgie Cleaver, as well as State Academy member Natasha Entwistle and experienced midfielder Madeline Ross from the side, replaced by ruck Marni Alston, Elle Sanders and debutant Tiani Teakle. The 15-year-old talent will join her sister Julia inside 50, with the latter fresh off a six-goal haul last week. She is part of an exciting core of youth at the club, with Under 16s talent Zippy Fish remaining in the side. The Sharks midfield of Ashleigh Gomes, Sharon Wong and Amber Kinnane has been outstanding all season, and lock horns with another incredible midfield in Jayme Harken, Madizen Wilkins and Tarnica Golisano, whilst Nyra Anderson and Hanna Dethlefsen are dangerous forwards.

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