WAFLW Preliminary Final preview: Tigers and Swans to clash for grand final spot

IT is all or nothing for both Claremont and Swan Districts in tomorrow’s West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s preliminary final which takes place at Revo Fitness Stadium from 2pm. The Tigers will have back-to-back home finals if they can get past the Swans in this match, with the underdog black and whites hoping to do the unthinkable and come from fourth to win the title. Though Claremont will be favourites in the clash, Swan Districts was able to overcome Peel Thunder to earn its spot in the preliminary final.

Sunday, June 26 @ 2pm
Revo Fitness Stadium

Second placed Claremont landed in the preliminary final after a low-scoring five-point loss to East Fremantle last week. The Tigers will rue not making the most of their early opportunities, with dominance in their forward half, and remarkably keeping the high-powered Sharks scoreless in the first 40 minutes. It took until the fifth minute of the third term for the unbeaten Sharks to score, credit to Swan Districts’ control on the game. Unfortunately the black and whites could only kick 1.2 in the first half – and 1.3 for the game – with two third quarter goals getting East Fremantle home and into the grand final. Claremont will host the grand final if the Tigers can get through, which is extra incentive – not that any is needed to reach the decider – for the team.

Swan Districts on the other hand fought hard to hold off a determined Peel Thunder late and advance through to the preliminary final thanks to a five-point victory. The Thunder had a few chances on goal in the final five minutes with the ball locked up Peel’s forward end, but the Swans defence held firm to secure the 5.4 (34) to 4.5 (29) victory. The upset win came after Peel had beaten Swan Districts two weeks earlier in a one-sided contest. In order to get though to the grand final, the Swans will have to turn the tables on a Claremont side that has had the better of them all season. Having played three times, Claremont has comfortably outplayed Swan Districts on each occasion, winning by 52, 42 and 31 points in Rounds 1, 8 and 12 respectively. The last one was the tightest, which will give the black and whites some hope for the knockout final.

Claremont has done well to battle on without its two best midfielders this season in the final few rounds, with Ella Smith and Sasha Goranova both drafted by West Coast, whilst dangerous Tessa Doumanis headed to Port Adelaide. AFLW Draft Combine invite Madeleine Scanlon has really stepped up in their absence, with AFLW-experienced talents in Jasmin Stewart and Katherine Orme providing great run down the ground. Marking forward Brooke Whyte will be crucial for the Tigers to get across the line, as will Paige Hamilton-Smith – who shut down forward Ashley Sharp last time – up the defensive end. Through the ruck, Sarah Garstone and Matilda Dyke have formed a strong one-two combination, while Ella Slocombe is a future youngster to remember.

Swan Districts will hope Sharp can get off the chain, looking dangerous against Peel Thunder and will be looking to do the same again in this game. Young midfielders, Jorgina Kean and Jaime Henry both hit the scoreboard last week, while AFLW Draft hopefuls Abbygail Bushby and Tara Stribley also capable of getting forward and kicking majors. In defence, Isabella Edgley has had a huge season for the black and whites, alongside experienced counterparts such as Lauren Osborne and Eliza Gelmi, while Emily McGuire has played at both ends. Swan Districts has missed having the services of captain Jessica Cox, though the likes of Ruby Mahony and Naomi Baker. The ruck battle will fascinating, with Aimee Ralph spending a lot of time through there, with Sophie Proudfoot providing support.

Claremont should be too strong based on last week’s effort against East Fremantle, but Swan Districts will be looking to try and take control in the midfield. If the Swans can do that, then they are a chance to cause another upset, but the Tigers have been the second best side all year and will have their eyes firmly on the prize of a home grand final.

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