01/03/2024

Imogen Barnett (L) and Caitlin Bunker (R) celebrate as Collingwood earned its spot in the VFLW Grand Final. (Photo: Collingwood FC)

NAIDOC Week was capped off perfectly for South Fremantle, Launceston continue to look unbeatable while Collingwood booked a Grand Final spot.

A premier was decided in Western Australia, a Grand Final spot was booked in Victoria, and the flag favourites solidified their top spot in Tasmania.

Catch up on the week’s state league footy action from all across Australia.

Western Australia

WAFL – Round 14

The WAFL’s NAIDOC week celebrations closed with another thrilling battle at Fremantle Community Bank Oval on Saturday, where South Fremantle held on for a one-point victory over Claremont.

It was a similar story to the 2020 Grand Final, where South Fremantle overcame Claremont by three points to win the flag at the same venue.

The game was mainly decided on efficiency inside 50 and scoring accuracy, with the Bulldogs finishing with less inside 50 entries and scoring shots. Claremont kicked 9.13 (67), while South Fremantle kicked 11.2 (68).

Two Indigenous players – Ben Rioli and Cody Ninyette – appropriately featured in the NAIDOC Week bout, with Rioli slotting three goals from seven kicks and Ninyette kicking the match-winner.

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Cody Ninyette celebrates his match-winning goal. (Photo: South Fremantle/Twitter)

In the final few minutes it looked like the result could fall in Claremont’s favour, but some smart defensive work from the likes of Zac Dent, who finished with 26 possessions, prevented their opponents from scoring.

Jacob Dragovich (22 disposals, five tackles) and Haiden Schloithe (26 disposals, eight tackles) were dominant in the middle. Manfred Kelly laid nine tackles, while Blake Schlensog kicked two goals of his own.

Claremont’s Jye Bolton was monstrous in the middle, accumulating 37 disposals and worked tirelessly to push his team towards a win, as did Jared Hardisty who contested well, finishing with a game high 11 tackles.

Despite inaccuracy, Claremont had three multiple goal scorers – Isaac Barton who booted three, and Callan England and Ryan Lim with two apiece.

Both sides are sitting in the top three and look in prime form to contend for the flag, much like the first placed Subiaco who defeated Perth by 27 points. West Perth is putting its hand up as a finals chance, defeating cross-town rivals East Perth to come away with the Polly Farmer Shield and a 30 point win.

Retired Geelong star Harry Taylor’s four goals weren’t enough to secure a win for East Fremantle against Peel, but Swan Districts’ Matthew Germs‘ sealer was, locking in a two-point win over the West Coast Eagles in a nail-biting contest.

Final score: South Fremantle 11.2 (68) def. Claremont 9.13 (67)

OTHER RESULTS:

East Fremantle 9.8 (62) def by. Peel Thunder 13.10 (88)

Subiaco 10.11 (71) def. Perth 6.8 (44)

West Perth 14.13 (97) def. East Perth 10.7 (67)

Swan Districts 10.11 (71) def. West Coast 9.15 (69)

Rebecca Ruthven

WAFLW

Grand Final – Peel Thunder vs Swan Districts

Lightning might not strike twice in the same place, but Peel Thunder sure does in WAFLW Grand Finals.

The Thunder overcame Swan Districts by 21 points to go back-to-back on Sunday afternoon at David Greys Arena.

Fremantle Docker Sabreena Duffy came away with the Lou Knitter medallist after an enormous second half to get her team over the line.  

You can read The Inner Sanctum’s match report here, and Duffy’s post-match thoughts here.

Rebecca Ruthven

Tasmania

TSL – Round 15

Launceston has yet again solidified themselves as the TSL top dog after a 53-point win over cross-town rivals North Launceston.

The Northern state matchup is always a highly anticipated one. With the win, the reigning Grand Finalists look poised to meet at the big dance again this year.

The headlines started rolling out in the first five minutes as Blues star and TSL leading goal scorer Dylan Riley went down with a suspected ACL injury.

Despite this, Riley is still the favourite to win the Hudson Medal, 37 goals ahead of second placed Brad Cox-Goodyer, who strangely enough was the player who made the tackle.

Launceston seemed to suffer from the loss of their star, trailing at quarter time. However, they quickly regrouped to take back a three goal lead by half time. It’s a side that wins through committee, and many of their stars stood up in round 15.

The saviour of the day was Brayden Pitcher, who filled the vacant role left by Riley. He logged eight inside 50s and six goals.  

Cody Thorpe transitioned from full forward into a ruck role over the weekend, and dominated with 41 hit outs.

The Blues midfield was at its dynamic best on the weekend, Jake Hinds and Jay Blackberry racking up the possessions with 24 and 22 respectively. They both hit the scoreboard with two goals apiece.

Fletcher Seymour impressed with a game high 26 touches and six tackles.

This was the third and last regular season meeting for the northern sides, and Launceston take a 2-1 lead on the year ahead of finals.

North Launceston will have to regroup and gain some momentum back before finals, facing fellow finals contender Clarence at home in round 16.

Launceston travel down south to the Twin Ovals as it meets the Tigers on Saturday afternoon.

Final score: Launceston 14.7 (91) def. North Launceston 5.8 (38)

OTHER RESULTS:

Kingborough 12.14 (86) def. North Hobart 7.4 (46)

Clarence 16.14 (110) def. Lauderdale 8.13 (61)

Simon Andrews

Victoria

VFLW – Semi Finals

The women’s league is nearing its penultimate clash, with Collingwood having booked the first spot in the Grand Final.

Still undefeated, the Magpies withstood the relentless pressure of the valiant Bombers to win by seven points at Victoria Park.

It was the second time the two sides met in 2021, Collingwood disposing of Essendon by 10 points on ANZAC Day in what was another spirited loss for the last standalone VFLW side left standing.

The game was the epitome of a contested battle, led by Essendon’s Georgie Prespakis and Georgia Nanscawen. The two finished with an equal game-high 13 tackles each, accounting for 23 per cent of Essendon’s total.

Prespakis was matched up on Ebony O’Dea for most of the afternoon, very nearly concussing her with a dangerous tackle late. O’Dea was strong around the ball as well, finishing with 18 disposals, eight tackles and seven clearances.

What really made the difference for the Pies in the end was the numbers behind the ball.

Katelyn Lee held down the fort excellently, finishing with nine disposals and three marks. A leader in defence, she set up Collingwood’s methodical kicking up the ground with ease.

Jessie Davies kicked the solitary goal for the Bombers halfway through the third term, while AFLW-youngster Mikala Cann and league leading goalkicker Imogen Barnett hit the scoreboard for the Pies.

Ultimately, the Bombers failed to take advantage of early opportunities to lay some scoreboard pressure. The ever-pacey Ruby Svarc went on some incredible runs down the wing, but failed to make the most of her entries inside 50.

Essendon will now face Geelong at Windy Hill on Saturday in the preliminary final. The Cats overcame a two goal half-time deficit, led by Georgia Clarke’s four goal haul. They lost their second chance after losing to the Pies in the qualifying final last week.

VFL – Round 13

It was a weekend of swings and roundabouts in the men’s competitions, swinging margins and huge comebacks commonplace.

There were none bigger than Footscray’s come from behind victory over Sydney on Sunday at Whitten Oval.

Jeremy Laidler’s men led by as much as six goals in the early stages of the final term, as Callum Sinclair, Ryan Clarke and Marc Sheather combined to find Dylan Stephens on the cusp of the 50 metre arc. He goaled to give the Swans the perfect start, but it wasn’t to last.

After a wasting their chances for eight minutes, Ben Cavarra broke the dam wall.

The goal arose from a Josh Schache intercept along the wing, the Dogs using the corridor to chain together aggressive handballs as Hayden Crozier launched a long bomb inside 50, which Cavarra marked contested.

It was Crozier who once again entered the forward 50 by foot, creating a stoppage as the ball was killed over the boundary line. Cavarra sharked the pack and scored accordingly, a brilliant snap off his left.

While he would kick a point, Jordon Sweet didn’t have to wait long to find the goals against for the charging Bulldogs.

From there, it was the ‘Scray all the way home. They launched entry after entry (winning the inside 50 count 49-44) to kick four goals straight. Cavarra would fittingly kick the sealer to win the game by seven points.

For Sydney, young gun Logan McDonald put his hand up for a senior recall. He finished the day kicking four goals, 18 disposals, two inside 50s, and taking a staggering 14 marks.

Ryan Clarke was busy in the middle, finishing with 32 disposals, seven clearances and seven tackles. Paddy McCartin played a role higher up the ground than usual, not registering a score but taking 11 marks.

It was a disappointing sixth loss in a row for the Swans, finals now well and truly out of their grasp. They’ll enjoy two byes in a row as the Victorian teams catch up on missed games due to COVID lockdowns.

While coach Stewart Edge will be hoping the first three quarters are a thing of the past, the Bulldogs couldn’t be having a better season. They remain undefeated, having already comprehensively defeated fellow finals fancies GWS, Geelong and Frankston.

A rematch with Gold Coast beckons at Metricon Stadium. It will be the first time Footscray has travelled in three months.

Final score: Footscray 11.18 (84) def. Sydney 11.11 (77)

Other results:

Frankston 18.14 (122) def. Port Melbourne 4.3 (27)

Williamstown 10.11 (71) def. by Geelong 12.11 (83)

GWS 13.15 (93) def. Gold Coast 7.11 (53)

Werribee 7.15 (57) def. by Casey 17.14 (116)

Richmond 15.11 (101) def. by Collingwood 16.10 (106)

Southport 20.15 (135) def. Brisbane 2.14 (26)

Coburg 12.10 (82) def. by Northern Bullants 12.11 (83)

Sandringham 21.11 (137) def. Essendon 10.10 (70)

Alex Catalano

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