Preview | WAFLW R4a: Tigers and Bulldogs look to remain in top two
CLAREMONT and South Fremantle sit first and second on the ladder, and face off against a couple of sides in the bottom four, in Subiaco and Swan Districts. While Subiaco has picked up a win and a draw, and was competitive in its loss to East Fremantle last week, Swan Districts is still searching for its first victory of the season. We take a look at both Saturday games in the WAFL Women’s competition.
South Fremantle enters the match as unbeaten and sitting in second spot following back-to-back wins and a draw in the opening three rounds. Those results came against three of the bottom four sides however, and the winless Swan Districts is the other side in the bottom four. It is a must-win for the Bulldogs who then face the other three top four sides in the run home, but by staying ahead of the bottom four teams means they are in a great position for finals. The inexperienced Black Ducks continue to build, and did well in the first term against Claremont, but that inexperience could not hold on for four quarters, ultimately going down in a third straight loss.
South Fremantle has lost young star Molly O’Hehir after a nasty collision last week, with Cali Hunt also coming out of the side. Returning to the team is a couple of AFLW listed players in Makaela Tuhakaraina and Zoe Wakfer, along with exciting forward Hunter Cronin and young talent Megan Bain. Ella Ward adds some height, while Leila Fotu is the other inclusion, but the extended bench will be trimmed down.
Swan Districts has finalised its side for the clash, with the four changes. The Black Ducks will be minus Demi Liddle and Courtney Zappara, while Riley Fisher has dropped back down to Rogers Cup, and Jasmine Ware is an emergency. In return, Northern Territory local Cassie McWilliam makes her Swan Districts debut, while Erin Brown, Chanti McHenry and Ava Stewart have all come into the team.
In what will be the last match prior to the AFLW Overage Draft, there are a number of players in the contest hoping to impress. Swan Districts skipper Jessica Cox, midfielder Ruby Mahony and Kaylee King are among those nominated for the visitors, with defenders Isabella Edgley and Emma Nanut the others. For South Fremantle, nine players have nominated including first year talent Tahleah Mulder, key forwards Zoe Huggett and Bethany Bond, and ruck Ariana Hetherington. Small forward Noa McNaughton is a danger for the Swan Districts defence, but there are plenty of options down there for the red and whites.
South Fremantle is a much improved side in 2023 and should get the better of Swan Districts who are still gelling. They will improve as the season goes on, but the home team is firing on all cylinders with plenty of forward options and an in-form midfield.
It is Subiaco’s turn to test itself against the benchmark, when the Lions host the unbeaten Tigers tomorrow. After missing finals last season, the Lions have picked up a win, draw and loss this season, but unfortunately sit just outside the top four. Claremont on the other hand has scooted out to three consecutive wins despite missing plenty of chances on goal in the past two weeks to boost their percentage. Still, the Tigers remain unbeaten and are premiership favourites at this stage of the season.
Claremont will lose a bit of experience but regain it too, with Hayley Bullas, Ella Smith and Tess Blackburn all out of the team, with an extended bench replacing them. Among those players are Fremantle’s Madeleine Scanlon, as well as Matilda Sergeant and Sarah Garstone, as well as double bottom-ager Juliet Kelly.
Subiaco has also made the three confirmed changes with Tiah Toth out of the team with Hayley Corlett and Kate Pocsidio also missing the Round 4 clash. Among seven inclusions are the likes of Dahna Lee, Liana Burchell and Meg Brown.
The midfield battle will be fascinating with two of the most experienced on-ball brigades going head-to-head. Respective captains, Tarnica Golisano and Adele Arnup will likely cross paths, with Joanne Cregg set to have a great test against Jasmin Stewart. Matilda Dyke and Tess Lyons have both nominated for next week’s AFLW Overage Draft and get a last showing for clubs against each other, while Claremont co-captain Rachel Ortlepp and sister Claire Ortlepp will provide drive out of defence. Up the other end, Olivia Crane and Beth Schilling have been doing just that for the Lions. The match also marks Claremont recruit Jayme Harken‘s first match against her former side.
Claremont has the runs on the board and should be a touch too strong. Though the Tigers will need to kick straight this week as Subiaco is in good form, has experienced players and could punish Claremont if they have the yips again. Across the board though Claremont is so good at limiting opposition scoring, and with Subiaco’s forwardline losing a bit of power this week, it will make the job all the more tougher.