A MUCH improved West Perth outfit in 2023 will be eyeing off an upset against a Peel Thunder side missing a number of quality midfielders to try and win its first match against a non-expansion side in 2023. That match is the first of two on Sunday, with East Perth taking on East Fremantle in the other clash which is tipped to go heavily in favour of the latter, though the former have also shown signs at times.
West Perth enter the match off a competitive first half against East Fremantle before fading away in Round 2, and falling too far behind early against South Fremantle before holding their own after quarter time. The Falcons sit at 1-2 but could see this as a vulnerable Peel Thunder side who only just put away East Perth by 25 points, after a lob-sided inside 50 count against Claremont the week before. In saying that, Peel Thunder are no strangers to winning ugly or tough, so expect a bttle.
Peel Thunder has lost a trio of midfielders with AFLW-experienced Jaide Britton, inside ball-winner Chloe Wrigley and young gun Jorja Haines – the latter came off injured last week – while coming in is experienced mid-forward Krystal Carter, as well as top AFLW Draft prospect Kaitlyn Srhoj after going down from a nasty collision in Round 1.
The Falcons midfield will be key to victory, with Emily Bennett, Katherine Bennett and Megan Norbury named on-ball. Out on a wing Jeevna Heer showed promising signs in Round 3, while defenders Brooke Hongell and Jessica Roper also found plenty of the ball.
Peel’s defensive duo of Evie Cowcher and captain Ebony Dowson dictate all the run off half-back and can set up players, while the return of Srhoj to the wing will add some extra speed and talent. Inside 50, Tanisha Anderson is coming off a career-high three goals with the former defender hoping to add more to her name this week, teaming up with Kira Phillips and Carter.
Peel Thunder do have enough to get the job done, but the rising form of West Perth, and with the exception of Webb, the Falcons are pretty close to full-strength. The Thunder are a fair way off full strength which makes this a really tight game, so do not be shocked if an upset occurs.
East Perth’s first season might not yield a win, but already the Royals are showing signs they will be a competitive team. They have fought to the very end in each of their matches, often holding their own and even winning quarters at different stages. They face a tough opponent here in East Fremantle, who sit 2-1 after storming past West Perth in the second half, and holding on against Subiaco, following a loss to reigning premiers Claremont in Round 1.
East Fremantle will be minus three experienced players, with Fremantle-listed Gabby O’Sullivan, AFLW-experienced Ashlee Atkins and crafty forward-midfielder Larissa Versaci all out of the Round 4 team. Coming into the side are Katelyn Catalano, Leanne Gubbins and young gun forward Tiani Teakle.
East Perth has again shuffled its lineup around, with four changes for the match. Chloe Boothman, and Bianca Glanville are among four outs, with the likes of youngster Holly Gill and experienced player Taylah Suda returning to the side.
East Fremantle has no shortage of quality players who can turn games, even with those outs. Bottom-ager Zippy Fish can slice up the opposition zones, with fellow young stars Taya Chambers and Natasha Entwistle having great games last week. Up forward, the twin towers of Anjelique Raison and Georgie Cleaver pose a problem for the Royals defence, while Chloe Reilly and Mylee Leitch looked dangerous last round.
East Perth share the load across the board, with Tristin Ogonoski a dangerous forward, while Ruby Burgess has been named at full-forward this week. She will rotate through the ruck with Matilda Bennett, while Chloe Sauzier was a shining light in the Round 3 loss.
East Fremantle should still take care of business here. East Perth do not make it easy for oppositions hoping for a percentage-boosting win, but the Sharks have too much experience across the board, and have been able to grind out wins when put up against resistance the last fortnight, so expect them to do the same here.