Preview | WAFLW R3a: Sharks circling undefeated Lions
TWO Saturday games begin Round 3 of action in the WAFL Women’s, and we preview both matches in the first of two previews for the weekend. Third placed Subiaco hosts fourth placed East Fremantle in the first game, before the second placed South Fremantle lock horns with West Perth as the Falcons sit just outside the top four.
The unbeaten Subiaco will be keen to continue its form at home against East Fremantle in what shapes to be a fascinating contest. The Lions bounced back from a draw against South Fremantle in Round 1 to defeat Swan Districts in a Round 2 rout, while East Fremantle overcame early resistance from West Perth to run out comfortable victors last week after a Round 1 loss in the WAFL Women’s Grand Final rematch.
Subiaco has made just the one change for the big clash, with Stephanie Dalton replacing Liana Burchell. East Fremantle on the other hand has made at least two confirmed changes as Katelyn Catalano and India Ferrier go out, with a number of inclusions named for the side. Among them is talented bottom-age forward Tiani Teakle, as well as some more firepower up front in Samara Pluschke and Mylee Leitch. Highly touted Caylen Crook could also be in line for her debut, while the experienced Larissa Versaci returns to the Sharks’ lineup.
The midfields of both sides is incredibly strong, with the likes of Ashleigh Gomes, Sharon Wong and Gabby O’Sullivan going up against Tarnica Golisano, Tiah Toth and Joanne Cregg. East Fremantle’s firepower up forward might be the difference, with the inclusions along with top-age key forwards Anjelique Raison and Georgie Cleaver making the Sharks hard to stop. Up the other end, Amy Mulholland and Kelsey Patterson have been in great form, while Jessica Ritchie was a terrific marking target in Round 2, kicking two goals against the Swans.
East Fremantle is building into the season nicely and with the extra experience returning to the lineup, look to have the better depth across the field. In saying that, Subiaco’s midfield is incredibly deep, and winning enough of the ball gives the forwards chances to capitalise on, which could see the Lions cause an upset.
South Fremantle remains undefeated and could consider itself unlucky not to be two wins from as many games, coming home hard against Subiaco in Round 1 but failing to put one more score on the board. The Bulldogs crushed East Perth in Round 2 as expected, which is what West Perth did to its rival the week before. The Falcons were competitive against East Fremantle last week but ultimately fell away in the second half, but will be hoping to put in a better effort than in the trial matches between these two sides after going down by 20 goals in that clash.
West Perth recall Emily Bennett who was a late out last week after being best on ground in Round 1. She will help add extra skill and hardness to the midfield, while Louise McBride is the other inclusion. Liza Kneebone and Chanel Scott are the two out of the side.
South Fremantle has wheeled out the changes at the selection table with five all up, including dropping dynamic forward Hunter Cronin showing the Bulldogs’ added depth this season, while Megan Bain and Cali Hunt were also omissions but have been named as emergencies this week. South Fremantle regains star youngster Molly O’Hehir after a week off, with Stephanie Mostert, Abbey Barber, Kloe Bassett and Darcy Clements all coming into the side.
South Fremantle’s well balanced forwardline of talls, Zoe Huggett and Bethany Bond, as well as smalls, Noa McNaughton and Makaela Tuhakaraina make it so difficult for opposition defences. The inclusion of Brooke Hongell in there will help settle down the West Perth back five, with Jessica Roper set to have the big job on McNaughton again as she did in the preseason. Up the other end, Liliana Grassenis looked impressive as a forward in Round 2, while Megan Norbury and Bianca Webb are the ones the Falcons want the ball in the hands of going forward. O’Hehir and Tanika Bradley can create run, while Tahleah Mulder has made a promising start to the 2023 season.
South Fremantle won big in the preseason, and while the Falcons with some key inclusions should be far better here, the Bulldogs have shown they have gone to another level in 2023. They should be too good, and while it will be a far more fast-paced game than past years between the developing sides, the firepower up front for South Fremantle should be the difference.