2024 WAFLW R1 wrap: Sharks rip victory from Dogs’ jaws

REIGNING champion East Fremantle kicked off its premiership defence with a nail-biting three-point win over South Fremantle in a classic Derby. The Sharks trailed for the majority of the match, but found an avenue to goal through Chloe Reilly in the final term to break the even deadlock and secure the 4.4 (28) to 3.7 (25) victory.

As expected, last year’s preliminary finalists were neck-and-neck throughout the contest, with young gun Noa McNaughton converting the first major in her first game since recovering from a toe injury, taking a great grab going back with the flight. She was handed the goal by dual sportsperson Poppy Stockwell who had missed a chance moments earlier, but would be dangerous throughout the match.

East Fremantle tall timber Sarah Wielstra and Emmelie Fiedler began to have a say on proceedings in the front half with the latter clunking a strong contested mark in the goalsquare and making no mistake from straight in front. The early going had also seen top AFLW Draft prospect Zippy Fish going head-to-head with the second best talent in South Fremantle young gun Molly O’Hehir.

The second term would start exactly like the first with Stockwell missing a chance only for McNaughton to pounce on a loose ball and make no mistake. Despite the quarter seeing the teams have their chances, it was largely worked between the arcs as Chloe Wrigley and Ashleigh Gomes accumulated the footy with Fish to go up against O’Hehir, Liusaidh Gilchrist and Renee Morgan.

The damage could have been a lot worse for the Sharks when they were attacking had it not been for experienced defender Leanne Gubbins as she and top-ager Natasha Entwistle had some important plays. By half-time, the Bulldogs were in front by one, though a Stockwell breakthrough in the third term after a free kick made that margin seven, and it would grow to eight when she kicked her third behind midway through the quarter.

Looking in control, South Fremantle felt the momentum change when several plays went astray, including Gilchrist running into goal but missing. Instead up the other end, East Fremantle had a memorable moment when several players were involved including Wielstra, for Mylee Leitch to get goalside and one the end of a chain to finish off the good work up the field.

When the siren sounded a few minutes later, South Fremantle held a narrow two-point lead and it was game on. Especially when Beth Beckett marked at the top of 50 in the eighth minute of the final term and lowered the eyes to hit up Chloe Reilly. Her sharpshooting teammate made no mistake, and the Sharks went up by four. It almost became 10 when Caylen Crook had a shot, but O’Hehir clunked a grab on the line to keep her team’s hopes of a win alive.

It was clear the match was going down to the wire, and South Fremantle were fiercely attacking. In the 16th minute, the had a chance as Pia Durk had run into goal but the ever-reliable Gubbins put her body on the line and saved the day. She rushed the behind and though sore, settled her team down.

From there, the Sharks were able to shut down the contest and defend bravely, as they stood up to take the four points in such a nail-biting win, 4.4 (28) to 3.7 (25). Fish stood out with a team-high 21 touches, while Gubbins, Gomes and Wielstra were all impressive. Gilchrist (25 disposals, two marks, three tackles and seven inside 50s) was the consistent warrior for the Bulldogs, while Stockwell, Morgan and O’Hehir all showed their class.

SOUTH FREMANTLE 1.1 | 2.4 | 3.6 | 3.7 (25)
EAST FREMANTLE 1.2 | 2.3 | 3.4 | 4.4 (28)

South Fremantle:
N. McNaughton 2, P. Stockwell
East Fremantle: M. Leitch 2, E. Fiedler, C. Reilly

South Fremantle:
P. Stockwell, M. O’Hehir, L. Gilchrist, N. McNaughton, R. Morgan
East Fremantle: Z. Fish, L. Gubbins, A. Gomes, S. Wielstra, C. Wrigley


Subiaco stormed to a massive 95-point victory over East Perth to kick off its season in style thanks to six goals from youngster Olivia Wolmarans. The Lions kicked 11 goals straight between the 14 minute mark of the second term and the sixth minute mark of the fourth quarter. Though they fell short of the ton, it was a comprehensive performance with 41 inside 50s to 11, as well as 235 disposals to 145.

Wolmarans had 17 disposals and two marks to go with her 6.1, while Maggie MacLachlan (15 disposals, two goals) and Amy Mulholland (14 disposals, two goals) impacted the scoreboard on multiple occasions. Airlie Runnalls, Eva Popovsky and Fina Dethlefsen also kicked two goals apiece, while Madison Dodd herself to a match-high 25 disposals and five inside 50s. Fro East Perth, Lucy Greenwood had 14 disposals on debut.

Putting the grand final loss in the rearview mirror, Claremont knocked off Swan Districts to open its account in season 2024, securing a 7.5 (47) to 4.7 (31) win. It was never completely in the bag and the Swans came late, but it was a a case of too little, too late with the Tigers getting up by 16 points.

The pair of Jayme Harken (25 disposals, three marks, six tackles, two inside 50s and a goal) and Emily Bonser (20 disposals, three marks, four tackles, two inside 50s and two goals) were potent for the winners. Recruit Anjelique Raison spent more time up the ground and through the middle with 14 disposals, three marks and seven tackles, while Mackenzie Webb provided terrific drive out of defence. Carys D’Addario returned from injury to star for the Black Ducks, while recruit Emma Humphries and defender Eliza Gelmi worked hard all game.

In the final match of the round, West Perth survived a tough first half to steamroll Peel Thunder down in Mandurah by 37 points. The Falcons trailed by a point at the main break after inaccuracy of 2.6 to 3.1 hurt them, and though it still played a factor in the final two quarters, they managed to pile on 5.8 without the Thunder adding to their total for a 7.14 (56) to 3.1 (19) victory.

All bar five Falcons reached double-digit disposals in a team effort, with Taylor Ferguson and Imahra Cameron providing some run in transition. Brooke Hongell was the star of the show though kicking 4.2 from 19 disposals and four marks, while Katherine Bennett also impressed inside 50. Debutant Mia Russo started in midfield and progressed forward where she kicked 1.3 from 18 disposals and three marks, but also had five inside 50s. For Peel, Evie Cowcher was unsurprisingly the standout with 28 touches, eight marks, three tackles and two inside 50s, while skipper Ebony Dowson (21 disposals, seven marks and four tackles) also tried hard.


Claremont 7.5 (47) defeated Swan Districts 4.7 (31)
East Perth 3.3 (21) defeated by Subiaco 18.8 (116)
South Fremantle 3.7 (25) defeated by East Fremantle 4.4 (28)
Peel Thunder 3.1 (19) defeated by West Perth 7.14 (56)

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