WAFLW R1 wrap: Tigers claw home as Sharks squander shots

INACCURACY in front of goal – particularly in the opening quarter – proved costly for East Fremantle as the Sharks went down to reigning premiers Claremont by six points at Pentanet Stadium yesterday. East Fremantle dominated the opening term with five scoring shots to nil, holding the Tigers scoreless. But failing to take full advantage of that dominance left the door ajar for Claremont who gradually worked its way back into the contest, with a Adele Arnup major midway through the final term sealing the result.

It was a highly entertaining contest from arguably the two best sides in the competition, and lived up to all the billing of a grand final rematch. The hungry Sharks, having only lost one game in 18 months – the grand final – started off on the perfect note with top-age talent Anjelique Raison taking a strong mark on the lead and converting the set shot in the third minute of the match.

That would turn out to be the Sharks’ only major of the quarter despite peppering the goals. Mylee Leitch (two behinds), Zippy Fish and Chloe Reilly all missed chances they would normally gobble up, and though Eva Campo sprayed Claremont’s only realistic set shot opportunity up the other end, the Sharks would rue their misses.

Claremont forward Jacinta Valentini would turn the game in the second quarter, kicking a good goal from a set shot, and then a forgettable turnover from the Sharks defence in the last 90 seconds of the half resulted in Valentini putting the Tigers in front. To that point, the combination of Leanne Gubbins and Fish, along with fellow bottom-ager Taya Chambers had worked well out of defence.

Claremont began to win more of the ball through midfield, with Jasmin Stewart and Tigers recruit Jayme Harken finding plenty of it. Though it was more the defensive work of Mackenzie Webb and Claire Ortlepp that really stood out, as the Tigers defended bravely throughout the middle of the game.

Despite missing a chance in the second term, Fremantle star Gabby O’Sullivan made no mistake with a conversion in the third term from a set shot, as East Fremantle extended the lead back out to eight points midway through the third. A strong grab and goal from Amalie Moe reduced the deficit to two points by the final break, with the Tigers poised to make a last charge at the four points.

Incredibly it took some magic from Arnup in the pocket from a tight angle to convert the winning goal just eight minutes into the last term. Though both sides had chances – including Arnup to make it two in a row – the Tigers would only add one more behind to the score, as the siren sounded with Claremont taking home the points in a thriller, 4.3 (27) to 2.9 (21).

Claremont had an even spread of contributors, with Harken making an impressive debut for the Tigers, recording 17 disposals, six marks, four tackles and four inside 50s playing off half-forward and rotating into stoppages. Valentini proved to be the match-winner in the second term with her two goals from 14 touches, six marks and five inside 50s, while Claire Ortlepp (19 disposals, five marks and three tackles) also stood out for the winners.

For the Sharks, it was hard to go past bottom-age young gun Fish as best-on, with the smooth-moving talent playing off half-back and picking up 17 disposals, two marks, two tackles and two inside 50s, slicing up the Tigers’ defensive zones with her pinpoint passing. Reigning Dhara Kerr Medallist Sharon Wong (18 disposals, four tackles) worked hard all game, while the skill of Jae Flynn and O’Sullivan was on display, with defender Gubbins stepping up constantly.


West Perth made history by comfortably taking care of newcomers East Perth, running out 48-point winners on Saturday afternoon. The result marked the Falcons’ first win in WAFL Women’s history, as they scored the first nine goals of the match during the 9.8 (62) to 2.2 (14) victory. Emily Bennett returned to the Falcons with success picking up 22 disposals, four marks, seven tackles and four inside 50s, while sister Katherine Bennett, and Grace Betti both kicked two goals. Tia Bergin slotted three in the game to lead the competition after Round 1, while Tristin Ogonoski kicked the Royals two late majors.

There was also history made on the Sunday, with Subiaco and South Fremantle playing out the league’s first ever draw. The Lions were the more accurate of the two teams, but they both split the points in a 5.4 (34) to 4.10 (32) manner. Debutant and double bottom-ager Olivia Crane had a day out on debut with 22 disposals, three marks and four tackles, while Subiaco captain Tarnica Golisano continued her consistent form of the last few seasons with 20 disposals, five marks and four tackles. Kahra Sprylan (19 disposals) had the most touches of any Bulldog, while Casey Byrne kicked two goals in the draw.

Though perhaps not bearing the same history-making impact of the other two games, Peel Thunder will be happy taking away the four points over Swan Districts. Just five points separated the sides at the final siren, with the home team winning 4.3 (27) to 2.10 (22). The visitors hit the front at the final break, but a second goal from Ebonee Hardie won the match for the Thunder, who had to overcome an early injury to star youngster Kaitlyn Srhoj late in the first term. Captain Ebony Dowson (24 disposals) lead from the front in the win, while AFLW talent Jaide Britton impacted upon her return, and 2007-born debutant Evie Cowcher was among the best. Swan Districts captain Jessica Cox was a clear standout for the losing side with a whopping 28 disposals, five marks, eight tackles and six inside 50s, while debutant Carys D’Addario showed some promising signs.

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