Swans tame Tigers in stunning upset

IT WAS an upset 692 days in the making, with Swan Districts stunning ladder leaders and premiership favourites Claremont by 25 points in one of the most remarkable upsets. A week ago, the Black Ducks were humbled by West Perth, but a week is a long time in football and the black and whites turned it around to be the first team to defeat Claremont in a home and away match since June 5, 2022.

On that day, Claremont went down Subiaco by 14 points in Round 16, a shock loss considering the Tigers finished second on the ladder that year and the Lions missed finals on percentage. As history would have it, Claremont would go on to win its first women’s flag and then go undefeated throughout 2023 before being on the receiving end of a grand final upset at the hands of East Fremantle.

Fast forward to Round 9, and the Tigers entered the match against Swan Districts at 8-0 and heavy favourites against a side that was well beaten by the Falcons the week before and sitting mid-table. However a couple of key inclusions in Courtney Zappara and Emma Nanut gave the underdogs a spark, while Claremont would be minus defender Claire Ortlepp.

From the get-go it was evident that the Black Ducks had arrived to play, and having most of the chances early, got on the board through Taylah Edwards and bottom-ager Carys D’Addario to lead 15-1 at quarter time. An almost costly turnover in the last few minutes saw a Swans defender turn the ball over in the defence 50 to land in the arms of the dangerous Eva O’Donnell, but her kick fell short and was rushed across.

Over the next two quarters, it was hard to believe what was happening. Swan Districts was playing inspired football, and forcing uncharacteristic mistakes from a usually composed Claremont side. Without Ortlepp marshalling the defence, the Black Ducks found marks inside 50 both on the lead nad then over the back, as several of Swan Districts’ six unanswered goals in the first three quarters resulted in open looks from close range.

In the sixth minute – after over-ager Bec Anderson had just pushed a shot to the left – the Swans through D’Addario went end-to-end in a flash and Zappara strolled into an open goal. The next stoppage the ball went inside 50 again, this time via Kayley King to hit an open Emily McGuire for another.

Up the other end, experienced defender Eliza Gelmi was outstanding, taking a number of intercept marks and pressuring the opposition to win the ball back for her side. While Emily Bonser and O’Donnell were still prominent for the visitors, the home side just had too many winners all over the park.

When debutant Sienna Gerardi found space and danced away from her opponent to snap, it was party time, and when Edwards out out the back at the 14-minute mark of the third term, the Swans were a mindboggling 38 points up in the benchmark side.

It was an astounding performance from a side who could only muster one goal the week before, but had poured on six in three quarters against the unbeaten Tigers. Claremont put respect on the scoreboard with two goals in the first four minutes via Eva Campo and O’Donnell, and there was an air of possibility for the ladder leaders. However chewing time off the clock is as good as scoring when in front, and Swan Districts did that perfectly for 10 minutes until Anjelique Raison soccered one off the deck.

There was six minutes left and Claremont still trailed by 19 points. It would be a mountain to climb, but if any side could do it, it would be the Tigers. Unfortunately that mountain trail was quickly closed off when D’Addario won the next clearance and the following inside 50 led to McGuire’s second goal – and Swan Districts’ first of the fourth quarter – to shut the door on any potential comeback.

By the time the final siren sounded, Swan Districts had won 7.5 (47) to 3.4 (22) in a match that the Black Ducks players and fans are unlikely to forget any time soon. For the Tigers , in the scheme of things the loss is not the end of the world and will likely provide some motivation for coach Jack Schwarze and his players going forward, especially coming up against three of the Tigers’ biggest competitors in the next three weeks.

Gelmi was best on ground with 19 disposals and eight marks, working well with fellow defender Isabella Edgley (19 disposals, five marks). Through the midfield the likes of Emma Humphries, D’Addario and Lily Paterson all found plenty of players, while Edwards and McGuire both kicked multiple goals in the win.

For Claremont, Bonser (22 disposals, two marks, three tackles and three inside 50s) and O’Donnell (16 disposals, six marks, six tackles and three inside 50s) both had eye-catching plays, while Claudia Wright had a match-high 26 disposals as well as seven marks. Kate Orme and Taylah Orzel also tried hard throughout the match.

SWAN DISTRICTS 2.3 | 4.4 | 6.5 | 7.5 (47)
CLAREMONT 0.1 | 0.3 | 0.4 | 3.4 (22)

Swan Districts:
T. Edwards 2, E. McGuire 2, C. Zappara, C. D’Addario, S. Gerardi
Claremont: E. O’Donnell, E. Campo, A. Raison

Swan Districts:
E. Gelmi, I. Edgley, E. Humphries, T. Edwards, C. D’Addario
Claremont: E. Bonser, E. O’Donnell, K. Orme, C. Wright, T. Orzel


Swan Districts win was not the only drought-breaking performance, with East Perth scoring its first ever home win, shocking fourth placed South Fremantle by four points at Leederville Oval. The Royals defeated Peel Thunder in Mandurah a fortnight ago, but backed up that effort with a hard-fought win over the Bulldogs.

In a tight contest all game, the Royals came from behind at quarter time and half-time before kicking the last two goals of the game – and holding the Bulldogs goalless after half-time to win, 3.6 (24) to 2.8 (20). The had 11 less inside 50s (21-32), but seven more disposals and 10 more marks in the nail-biting victory.

Layla Firns had a day out with 28 disposals, three marks, five tackles, two inside 50s and a goal, while defender Sabella Banks and state squad member Jess Verbrugge were both prominent. Alyssa Smogavec had a team-high 25 touches as well as nine tackles for the Bulldogs, while Hope Arrowsmith and Hunter Cronin prominent from defence going forward in the absence of star midfielder Molly O’Hehir.

East Fremantle managed to steady the ship and return to the status quo of expected winners, with the second placed Sharks shaking off a determined Subiaco to win by 16 points. Only leading by two points at the final break, East Fremantle kicked 2.2 to 0.0 in the last term to secure the 6.10 (46) to 4.6 (30) victory.

Chloe Wrigley racked up 25 touches and laid six tackles in the win, as Zippy Fish returned to contribute alongside Amber Kinnane and Ashleigh Gomes. Kicking multiple goals, Ashlee Atkins and Chloe Reilly both finished with a couple of majors and were busy in the front half of the ground. For Subiaco, Olivia Wolmarans kicked three of her side’s four goals to keep them in it, while Beatrice Devlyn and Mikayla Smith were among the better Lions.

In the final game of the round, West Perth defeated Peel Thunder by 71 points under lights at Pentanet Stadium. The Thunder put up a fight in the first term, before the Falcons kicked away to boot 11 goals to two after quarter time, and seven goals to one in the second half, winning 14.7 (91) to 3.2 (20).

West Perth only had eight more disposals (233-225), but had a whopping 51 inside 50s to 12, scoring once every 11 disposals. Mia Russo stood up to have 20 disposals, six tackles, seven inside 50s and a goal in the win, while it was the work of Kayla Van Den Heever (18 disposals, six marks and four goals) and Brooke Hongell (15 disposals, three marks and there goals) who were dominant up forward.

With no Evie Cowcher for Peel Thunder, skipper Ebony Dowson (27 disposals, nine marks) and Ebony Bilcich (23 disposals, three marks, two tackles and two inside 50s) found plenty of the ball, while Holly Britton worked hard in midfield en route to 16 touches, three marks and a goal.

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