WAFLW Round 11 preview: Top two clash sets up weekend
A TOP of the table clash between East Fremantle and Claremont headlines an entertaining West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s round of action. The Sharks and Tigers will go head-to-head, before South Fremantle returns to the fold to try and defeat Subiaco for a second time in four weeks and make it three consecutive victories. Concluding the round, West Perth hosts a bulked up Swan Districts outfit.
Saturday, April 30 @ 11:30am
The highly anticipated top of the table clash takes place at Northampton Oval tomorrow morning, with the Tigers hoping to come away with the points and put the first dent in the Sharks’ otherwise unblemished seasons. East Fremantle will recall youngsters Georgie Cleaver and Anjelique Raison among five inclusions on an extended bench, with Tayla Bresland the sole out. Claremont has lost the likes of Sarah Garstone and Jacinta Valentini, but has regained Emily Elkington, Katherine Bennett, Brooke Whyte, Mackenzie Wain and Paige Hamilton-Smith who have all rolled into the starting 16.
The Tigers have a super defence in sisters Claire and Rachel Ortlepp, as well as Webb, Hamilton-Smith and Brooke Hongell. That will be crucial in trying to contain the attack of the Sharks which features Larissa Versaci, Julia Teakle and Mylee Leitch, whilst Claremont’s Ella Smith and Sasha Goranova will go head-to-head with Ashleigh Gomes and Sharon Wong in midfield.
Claremont looks very strong and consistent across the board and could be the first to pick up points against East Fremantle, but the Sharks have just found a way to win this season.
Saturday, April 30 @ 11:40am
In a battle between two sides desperate to stay in finals contention, Subiaco will be out to exact some revenge on South Fremantle. The Bulldogs got the better of the Lions last time out a few weeks back, and now in front of home fans at Leederville Oval, Subiaco will be keen to reverse that result in this clash. Coming off a bye in Round 10, the Bulldogs will be fresh and ready to go, bringing back their State Academy members, headlined by AFLW Academy ruck Lauren Wakfer. Alongside her, Jess Verbrugge returns on a wing. Subiaco has only made the two confirmed changes with Tiah Toth and Claudia Langley out of the side. Coming in is Clare McCarthy who will provide support to the defence at full-back, as well as the likes of Dahna Lee and Scout McCormack on an extended interchange.
The Subiaco midfield has been a strong point this season, with Jayme Harken, Madizen Wilkins and Tarnica Golisano all combining well. On the outside, the likes of Helen Taylor and Ellie Blackmore have been impressive, with Hayley Corlett and Madison Dodd also having strong seasons. The inclusion of Abbey Dowrick makes the Lions that much stronger, whilst Maggie Maclachlan and Jamie Rust hold down the fort in defence. For the Bulldogs, youngster Verbrugge and Molly O’Hehir have caught the eye this season, though the Bulldogs will be without pocket rocket Noa McNaughton in the game. They will have captain Lauren Vecchio, who alongside other teenagers in Poppy Stockwell, Rosie Anderson and Hunter Cronin, will be looking to put up a big score.
At home Subiaco looks the team to beat in this clash, though the Bulldogs proved last time out they can knock them off, so it should be a thrilling contest.
Sunday, May 1 @ 12:30pm
West Perth will play host to Swan Districts in the standalone Sunday game in what will be a great test for the Falcons’ youth. Swan Districts will be relieved the 2022 AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships is done and dusted, as they welcome back a host of players as part of at least eight confirmed changes. Abbygail Bushby, Tyla Fitzgerald, Jaime Henry, Emma Nanut and Tara Stribley all come straight back in, whilst surprisingly, two State Academy members yet to make their debut but are coming off the national championships campaign have also been named, in Tamzyn Beros and Jorgina Kean. The Falcons have a more straightforward group, with Kayla Van Den Heever and Liliana Grassenis both returning from the championships alongside five potential inclusions and only Grace Betti named as an out.
Grassenis will be a welcome return to a Falcons defence that features the consistent Karla Stagg, as well as the Roper sisters on the half-back flanks, Jess and Kaitlyn. Van Den Heever will slot straight back into the midfield, where Keely Byrne has been in some good form, whilst Megan Norbury has been a standout contributor all year for West Perth. Swan Districts struggled last week, but have a strong midfield with Bushby and Henry – who has been named in centre after predominantly playing defence pre-championships – as well as Swannies captain Jessica Cox. Up forward, Ashley Sharp is always a threat, whilst Isabella Edgley, Lauren Osborne, Aimee Ralph, Eliza Gelmi and the returning Mel Hardy make it quite the stacked team.
West Perth have shown marked improvement the last couple of weeks, but Swan Districts just has too much depth and experience here and should handle the plucky the Falcons.