WAFLW semi-finals preview – All or nothing for dual reigning premier
IT is down to the best of the best in the WAFLW, as week one of the 2022 finals series gets underway on Sunday. After 17 home-and-away rounds, East Fremantle came out undefeated as minor premier, and will play off against Claremont for a spot in this year’s grand final. Defending their crown for a second time, it is do or die for Peel Thunder, who host recent rival Swan Districts in the other semi final. We preview both bouts.
Sunday June 19, 1:30pm @ Lane Group Stadium
Dual reigning premier, Peel Thunder will have no margin for error in defending its WAFLW crown for a second time, opening its latest finals campaign on Sunday in a rematch of last year’s decider. Not only for that reason is Swan Districts a familiar foe, given these two sides are set to lock horns for the third time in five weeks.
The Thunder holds the head-to-head ascendancy 2-1 in 2022, having beaten the Swans in Rounds 14 and 16. On aggregate across the three games, Peel also leads 136-91, but it is anyone’s game come finals time. Heightening the Swans’ sense of desperation, they only snuck into finals on the back of the Thunder’s five-point defeat of Subiaco last week.
Though without its star goalkicker Kate Bartlett (AFLW), Peel has a rare mix of exuberance and experience which knows how to get the job done. Ella Roberts is a proven performer in big games, while Chloe Wrigley stepped up massively in midfield last week. The two-way influence of wingers Jaide Britton and Kaitlyn Srhoj will also prove important, on top of the transitional drive Bella Mann and Ebony Dowson can provide from defence.
Returning from a bye, Swan Districts will need to put its fresh legs to good use. The Swans will be boosted by the return of Jaime Henry given she missed their previous outing, likely to slot in alongside Tyla Fitzgerald after the pair’s AFLW Futures foray.
Defenders Isabella Edgley and Emily McGuire have important roles to play, while Tara Stribley will hope to have enough run in her legs having returned from injury in Round 16. Abbygail Bushby is another to watch in black and white, having topped the disposal charts for her side last time out against Peel.
Sunday June 19, 2:00pm @ New Choice Homes Park
A spot in the 2022 WAFLW grand final is up for grabs when East Fremantle takes on Claremont at New Choice Homes Park on Sunday. The Sharks took out this year’s minor premiership three wins clear of their weekend opponents, sealing an undefeated regular season against traditional rival South Fremantle, last week.
The two sides have met twice this year, but not since Round 11. East Fremantle’s 26-point win on that occasion was far more comfortable than Round 3’s two-point thriller, though the mental buffer of a double chance may bring Claremont into the game. The Tigers got back on the winners list in Round 17, building form by shutting out West Perth 69-0.
With a reliable on-ball group and productive forward line, the Sharks will again be tough to beat. Expect the likes of Amber Kinnane and Sharon Wong to win plenty of possessions, while Abbey Amaranti runs the outside and Larissa Versaci rotates forward.
With plenty of ball to be fed to them, young key position pair Georgie Cleaver and Anjelique Raison should have plenty of opportunities to score. Ashlee Atkins will give them plenty more to work with, while Melissa Caulfield is another scoring threat – fresh off her five-goal game in Round 17.
Claremont’s 19 scoring shots last week will likely stick well in their memory. Jasmin Stewart was outstanding for the Tigers given their recent losses in personnel, and Madeleine Scanlon is another who will likely shift on-ball from defence after her success there last time out. Don’t forget about Mhicca Carter either.
Up forward, the likes of Brooke Whyte and Tayla Thorogood will again be key sources of inspiration inside 50, while a few young guns will hope to open the game up with their speed. Namely, Ella Slocombe and Claudia Wright are a couple who could make the difference after their exploits last week.