SANFLW earns bragging rights with 16-point win over WAFLW

SOUTH Australia has proved too good for Western Australia in the battle of the women’s state leagues, as the SANFLW withstood a third quarter challenge from the WAFLW to come away with a 16-point win at Optus Stadium yesterday.

In an entertaining contest, it looked like being a one-sided blowout at the early stages of the second term with the SANFLW leading 25-0. Though the visitors had jumped the Sandgropers, through the run of Zippy Fish and the smarts of Imahra Cameron, the home side got back into the match.

Western Australia’s Mylee Leitch had the chance to put her side in front for the first time at the 18-minute mark of the third quarter after a great tackle in the forward pocket. The set shot went close but just was touched on the line, levelling the scores at 5.3 (33) apiece. Little did anyone know, that would prove to be the home side’s last score of the day.

Racing it up the other end, South Australia through Jade Halfpenny put it to space in front of Laquoiya Cockatoo-Motlap who made not mistake to hand her side a six-point lead at the final break. Halfpenny herself had a chance to extend that further after a massive contested mark against Swan Districts’ defender Eliza Gelmi, but her set shot fell short appearing to be distracted by the siren mid run-up.

It would not cost the Croweaters though, as they would kick the only goal of the final term. They had to wait a while though, kicking four straight behinds before Katelyn Rosenzweig found space to mark. Coming on from the interchange, she threw the West Australian defence off, and the player who has kicked more goals than anyone else in SANFLW history went back, slotted the set shot from 40m and celebrated with a tug of the jumper sealing the victory.

Though South Australia had come way with the trophy and bragging rights, it was far tougher in the end than it looked in the beginning, after having the first 14 inside 50s of the match. In fact the Sandgropers only went inside 50 once late in the contest, and by that stage, Sturt’s Alisha Gepp – who is not a known goalkicker – kicked two opening term goals, the same amount of majors she has kicked in four seasons at SANFLW level.

It would be a day for the small forwards with Norwood’s Tesharna Maher also getting over the back and kicking a couple, while skipper Samantha Franson soccered home her side’s fourth early in the second term and had numerous chances as well. Up the other end, the spark came from Subiaco youngster Eva Popovsky, whose two finishes were absolute class.

Within the two minutes either side of half-time, the Sandgropers added two more majors with West Perth winger Taylor Ferguson creating something out of nothing with an open goalsquare, while Fish earning a 50m penalty out of the middle – that was a generous 50 metres at the very least – put one through the big sticks.

When Claremont forward Adele Arnup got front position on South Adelaide defender Tiffany King and marked in the goalsquare, she went back and levelled the scores for the first time. That opportunity had come off Cameron’s boot with a clever from a forward stoppage.

Cameron would arguably be the second best West Australian on the day with her impact in the forward half, as Fish took the MVP for her 28 disposals, four marks, five tackles, six inside 50s and a goal. The West Perth forward/midfielder accumulated 16 touches, two marks, five tackles and five inside 50s, while her Falcons teammate Emily Bennett was also impressive. Top draft prospect Molly O’Hehir was sensational rotating between half-back and midfield, while Popovsky’s class in the front 50 was huge.

South Australia had more contributors across the four quarters though, with little doubt that Glenelg star midfielder Jessica Bates deserved the MVP. Her 34-disposal, three-mark, five-tackle and five-inside 50 performance added to the plethora of reasons why she should be on an AFLW list. Fellow inside midfielder Shelby Smith provided support with 20 touches and six tackles, while Caitlin Wendland and Hannah Button were terrific through the midfield, and Tahlita Buethke and Halfpenny strong at respective ends of the ground.

WAFLW 0.0 | 2.2 | 5.3 | 5.3 (33)
SANFLW 3.1 | 4.2 | 6.3 | 7.7 (49)

E. Popovsky 2, T. Ferguson, Z. Fish, A. Arnup
SANFLW: A. Gepp 2, T. Maher 2, S. Franson, L. Cockatoo-Motlap K. Rosenzweig


WAFLW: Z. Fish, I. Cameron, E. Bennett, M. O’Hehir, E. Popovsky
SANFLW: J. Bates, C. Wendland, S.  Smith, J. Halfpenny, T. Buethke


WAFLW: Zippy Fish (East Fremantle)
SANFLW: Jess Bates (South Australia)

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