Swans shake off Sharks to seal finals spot

SWAN Districts ensured its place in the 2023 WAFL Women’s finals series by defeating East Fremantle by 14 points at the WACA on Saturday evening. The Black Ducks, who face second placed South Fremantle in the last round, while fifth placed Subiaco takes on non-finalist West Perth would have likely surrendered their fourth spot if those results went as expected, but by defeating the Sharks have locked up the top four.

After going down to Claremont following a seven-game winning streak, the Swans were quick to bounce back and start strong against the Sharks, booting three goals – all to Taylah Edwards – to one in the opening term. It looked as if it was going to be a fantastic day for the visitors, with Cassie McWilliam almost capitalising off the first forward entry.

By the 95th second of the match, Swan Districts would have its first, with Edwards converting to get her side on the board. The Sharks would respond in time through Grace Freeman, but the celebration would only last a short time as Edwards would kick two goals in as many minutes to close out the first quarter, and five her side aa 2.1 (13) to 0.1 (1) lead.

When leading goalkicker Courtney Zappara kicked her first of the game just 46 seconds into the second quarter, the danger signs were there for the Sharks. Luckily over-age forward Mylee Leitch marked her return from injury by responding a minute later. Despite having some time in forward half, and the Sharks ball-winners of Beth Beckett, Sharon Wong and Ashleigh Gomes getting their hands on the pill, they could only muster up one more behind.

The Swans looked every dangerous up the other end with spearheads Edwards and Zappara, as the former would add another two behinds to her tally. By half-time, the Swans had kept the lead at 13 points, with Ruby Mahony bringing the defensive heat alongside fellow midfielders, Hope Ugle-Hayward and Tyla Fitzgerald.

Peppering the goals for the majority of the first 15 minutes in the second half, Zappara and Edwards would again strike goal, and stretch the lead out to 27 points. Though the dangerous Chloe Reilly would reduce the damage down to 20 points at the final break, it was still a mountain to climb.

Missing the rebounding capabilities of Zippy Fish and the talents of Georgie Cleaver around the ground, the Sharks could not as easily find targets in transition. They had more chances than the Sharks though, with eight more inside 50s (30-22), but could not capitalise with deep entries and marks inside 50.

When McWilliam put one through the big sticks at the two and a half minute mark of the fourth term, it was game over. Consolation goals to Freeman and Reilly came, but it was a case of too little, too late, and while the Sharks finished strong, they ultimately could not make the most of those extra inside 50s, as the Swans got up, 7.6 (48) to 5.4 (34).

Mahony (19 disposals, 10 tackles), Ugle-Hayward (15 disposals, nine tackles) and Fitzgerald (14 disposals, eight tackles) lead the way in the midfield, while Edwards (4.2 from 13 disposals) and Zappara (2.0 from eight disposals) were dominant up forward.

Beckett was the standout Shark with 18 disposals and 10 tackles, while Caylen Crook (13 disposals), and Wong and Gomes (12 each) were also busy. Top-age key forward Anjelique Raison worked hard for 11 disposals, eight tackles, nine hitouts, three inside 50s and a behind in the loss.


South Fremantle ended Subiaco’s dream of making finals – barring a remarkable win and a shock East Fremantle loss to Peel Thunder next week – thanks to a 19-point victory over the Lions. It was one of the most remarkable games, given Subiaco – via Hayley Corlett – burst out o the blocks to lead by 13 points at the first break. Unfortunately for the visitors, they only kicked three more behinds for the rest of the match, as the Bulldogs piled on 5.5 to win, 5.6 (36) to 2.5 (17).

South Fremantle ruck Ariana Hetherington continued her great form with 24 touches, five marks, 21 hitouts and a goal, while Liusaidh Gilchrist, Kloe Bassett and Renee Morgan all found plenty of it. Small forward Noa McNaughton was her side’s sole multiple goalkicker, while Corlett finished with both her side’s goals from 13 touches and five marks. Subiaco skipper Tarnica Golisano was the leading ball-winner with 30 touches, while Tiah Toth and Grace Hahnel were also busy.

Speaking of winning the ball, Claremont id just that during a 56-point thrashing of West Perth. The Tigers played a four-quarter game of keepings off, and came away with an 8.8 (56) to 0.0 (0) victory at Revo Fitness Stadium. Claremont had 155 more disposals, 42 more marks and 37 more inside 50s in a one-sided domination on the stats sheet.

Claremont midfielder Jayme Harken had 38 disposals in a league-record effort, while teammates Matilda Sergeant and Kate Orme combined for 65 more in an incredible ball-winning effort. Sarah Garstone (21 disposals, two goals) was also dominant, while Adele Arnup kicked four goals from 15 disposals and eight marks. Erin O’Brien (18 disposals, eight marks) was the best for West Perth), while defenders Jess Roper and Karla Stagg had 16 apiece.

In the other Round 15 match, Peel Thunder broke its 10-game losing streak with a hard-fought 18-point win over East Perth. The Thunder ensured they did not become the first team to lose to the the Royals, kicking three goals to nil in the second term to break away. In front of home fans, the Thunder were able to win 7.2 (44) to 4.2 (26) to get a long-awaited win.

Captain Ebony Dowson (19 disposals, three marks) lead from the front, while youngsters Dakota Sexton and Holly Britton combined for 25 disposals and 14 tackles. It was the same amount of tackles as Greta McKinley who had the 12 touches as well. Fro East Perth, Chloe Sauzier 22 disposals, one goal) caught the eye, while Matilda Bennett dominated the ruck battle with 36 hitouts and a goal from 14 disposals and five tackles.

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