WAFLW R3 wrap: Swans survive Royal scare

INACCURACY cost East Perth from potentially picking up its first ever WAFL Women’s victory, but the Royals provided Swan Districts with an almighty scare at Blue Steel Oval. In a scrappy affair in Bassendean, the black and whites overcame a determined East Perth outfit to post a 7.4 (46) to 3.9 (27) victory.

The opening two minutes looked like an ominous sign for Swan Districts when Kayley King kicked truly from a snap after her side locked the ball inside 50. Despite that, East Perth turned the tables on their higher fancied opponents by dominating field position for the rest of the term. The Royals peppered the goals time and time again, with four straight behinds in the opening term providing costly for not making the most of their chances.

The AFLW Eagles pair of Jessica Rentsch and Kayley Kavanagh were terrific additions for the side, while the likes of Layla Firns and Havana Milner were providing some terrific run down the ground. Missed opportunities from the talented Lucy Greenwood and Tristin Ogonoski from set shots in particular hurt, but the Royals were keeping it tight only down by two points.

Inaccuracy continued to be a theme in the second term for the visitors, as Courtney Zappara – who had missed a golden opportunity earlier when straight in front of goal 15m out and kicked it into the player on the mark – slotted her first to put the side up by eight points.

Kavanagh proved the goalkeeper for East Perth saving a certain goal by marking on the line, but up the other end, Ogonoski again missed a gift running into an open goal from 15m out but hitting the post. Eventually some Greenwood magic to get it to Madison Bennett in the goalsquare put the Royals within a point in the final minute.

Only needing to lock it down, East Perth found itself exposed in defence as with 25 seconds left, the Swans charged out of midfield and a series of handballs resulted in Megan Carron kicking a great running goal. Swan Districts lead by seven points at the main break despite East Perth doing much of the attacking.

Greenwood took her game to another level in the third term, showing off her elite clean hands and X-factor inside 50, kicking the first couple of behinds for her sides while under pressure. Eventually the tidal wave of blue and black momentum turned into a major with Hannah Challender scoring her sides’ second major of the contest.

Five minutes later that was countered by a clever snap from Tayla Thorn around her body to put the home side back in front. The major against the flow was important because the East Perth players did not drop their heads, continuing to press forward. Chloe Sauzier had a chance to put her side back in front in the 14th minute but missed from 15m out in the pocket, though she would make amends with a great tackle and then subsequent set shot to slot the goal and hand her side the lead.

The celebrations would not last long as Swan Districts again found the answer in the last few minutes with Zappara responding for her second goal of the day getting in front to clunk a strong mark of her opponent and kick truly. The Black Ducks continued to attack in the dying moments, but a blood rule for one of the home players chewed 30 seconds off the clock, with the siren sounding shortly after.

For all of East Perth’s good work across the first three quarters, the Royals trailed by three points at the final break, and Swan Districts put the foot down for the last 20 minutes. The Black Ducks kicked both final term majors – first through midfielder Carys D’Addario and then in the last minute via Hope Ugle-Hayward – pushed the margin out to 19 points by the final siren.

Top-ager Lily Paterson continued her great form, collecting 21 disposals, five marks and three inside 50s, teaming up well with bottom-ager D’Addario (19 disposals, four marks, four tackles and a goal) and hard-running King (17 disposals, two marks, five inside 50s and a goal) both among the best. Defender Isabella Edgley (17 disposals, four marks) and forward Ugle-Hayward (15 disposals, one mark, 10 tackles and a goal) also impressive.

Rentsch (14 disposals, seven tackles and two inside 50s) and Kavanagh (12 disposals, four marks and five tackles) both provided some nice highlights for Eagles fans, while the likes of defender Taylah Suda (10 disposals, three marks and three tackles) was rock solid in the back 50. Layla Firns and Jess Verbrugge were also among the better Royals.

SWAN DISTRICTS 1.0 | 3.0 | 5.0 | 7.4 (46)
EAST PERTH 0.4 | 1.5 | 3.9 | 3.9 (27)

Swan Districts:
C. Zappara 2, M. Carron, C. D’Addario, K. King, T. Thorn, H. Ugle-Hayward.
East Perth: M. Bennett, H. Challender, C. Sauzier.

Swan Districts:
L. Paterson, I. Edgley, K. King, H. Ugle-Hayward, C. D’Addario
East Perth: T. Suda, J. Rentsch, J. Verbrugge, K. Kavanagh, L. Firns


South Fremantle got on the board in the 2024 WAFL Women’s season, crushing Peel Thunder by 67 point down in Mandurah. After two tough losses to last year’s grand finalists, the Bulldogs never looked like losing, kicking four goals in the first and third terms to skip away to a 10.11 (71) to 0.4 (4) victory over the Thunder.

Liusaidh Gilchrist had the ball on a string with 25 touches, three marks, four tackles and six inside 50s, while talented bottom-age midfielder Renee Morgan (22 disposals, three marks, two tackles and four inside 50s) was influential alongside her. Molly O’Hehir and Noa McNaughton (two goals) were both busy.

For the Thunder, the trio of skipper Ebony Dowson (25 touches, three marks and four tackles), midfielder Ebony Bilcich (23 disposals, two marks, three tackles and four inside 50s) and bottom-age defender Evie Cowcher (21 disposals, four marks, two tackles) were once again the most prolific while both Holly Britton and Jorja Haines had their moments.

West Perth shrugged off a dogged Subiaco outfit to win by 21 points at Pentanet Stadium on Sunday, with inaccuracy again plaguing the Falcons. In a 4.10 (34) to 1.7 (13) victory, the Falcons managed to kick away in the final term with a couple of majors to keep their unbeaten streak alive.

Winger Taylor Ferguson and midfielder Megan Kauffman combined for 39 touches, eight marks and 10 inside 50s, while Imahra Cameron (25 disposals, nine marks and seven inside 50s) and Emily Bennett (21 disposals, four marks, five tackles and seven inside 50s) were also prolific. Ex-Subiaco skipper Tarnica Golisano had a handy 19 disposals, five marks and five tackles in her return game.

For Subiaco, Madison Dodd (22 disposals, six tackles) and Krstel Petrevski (22 disposals, five tackles) were both strong at the contest, while ruck Isabelle Starmer helped herself to 22 hitouts from 15 disposals, five marks and four tackles.

Claremont made light work of East Fremantle in a grand final rematch to send an ominous message to the rest of the WAFL Women’s. In their best performance of the season to-date, the Tigers ran out 7.3 (45) to 1.5 (11) winners, producing a superb defensive performance to keep the Sharks to just 16 inside 50s while having 36 themselves.

Reigning Dhara Kerr Medalist Jayme Harken starred again racking up 32 disposals, three marks, six tackles and six inside 50s, while Lou Knitter Medallist from last year’s grand final, Zippy Fish had 24 disposals, three marks, seven tackles and two inside 50s herself.

Emily Bonser (21 disposals, six marks, three tackles and four inside 50s), Jacinta Valentini and Kate Orme provided some run for the Tigers, while Laura Cinnani looked good laying 10 tackles, the most of any player on the ground. Chloe Wrigley had six tackles from 22 touches and four marks for the Sharks, while skipper Ashleigh Gomes and defender Natasha Entwistle were also prominent.

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