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WAFLW 2nd Semi-Final Report with Jacob Landsmeer - Thanks to The Left Bank

Thursday, June 27, 2024 - 10:28 AM

Sharks hold off fast finishing Tigers to book Grand Final Berth

East Fremantle has qualified for its third successive WAFL Women’s Grand Final, holding on to defeat Claremont by 3 points at Pentanet Stadium on Sunday.

The Sharks held off a desperate Tigers outfit in the final term despite failing to register a goal in the last stanza, the minor premiers now with the advantage of a week off after their 4.7 (31) to 4.4 (28) victory.

The result gives East Fremantle two wins from three matches this season against the Tigers, with the teams having met in the past two WAFLW Grand Finals.

Claremont now needs to defeat West Perth in next Sunday’s preliminary final to book a third straight decider between the powerhouse clubs.

While dry conditions greeted the two teams for the second semi-final clash at Joondalup the heavy conditions of the day previous had taken its toll on the ground, the centre circle and centre square both re-marked the day before to avoid any potential injury.

East Fremantle made a perfect start, scoring the opening goal inside a minute, winning the ball on the wing through co-captain Ash Gomes, handballing to Zippy Fish who hit Sharon Wong on the chest on the 50 metre arc.

Wong’s long kick found the arms of Chloe Reilly running into an open goal, the Sharks with a dream start after just 30 seconds.

Claremont had their chances to reply in the opening stages but a strong defensive effort from East Fremantle stopped the Tigers from registering their opening score, eventually capitalising through Wong, who marked a piercing pass from Mylee Leitch inside 50, playing on and kicking truly.

A 13 point lead was a handy advantage so early in a final, however Claremont bounced back strongly with goals to Rachael Ortlepp and Adele Arnup before the quarter time siren, the Sharks lead trimmed to two points at the first change.

In a hard fought second term the Tigers edged their way in front, strong tackling a feature of the contest with both team’s defences forced to work hard with a Grand Final spot on the line.

Bec Anderson converted a set shot to register the only goal of the term for either side, the Claremont forward able to break free of defender Leanne Gubbins to kick truly from a set shot.

Claremont would have perhaps been disappointed not to get more reward for their effort in the term, only leading by a major despite keeping the reigning premiers to a solitary point for the quarter.

Emmelie Fielder was denied a goal on the half time siren, originally called a major before being overruled by the on-field umpire and called touched, leaving the minor premier trailing by a goal.

The highlight of the term for East Fremantle was a strong contested work from Chloe Wrigley in a tussle with Claudia Wright on the wing, the Sharks facing a rare deficit heading in to the second half.

Both teams were desperate after the main break, Claremont looking to extend their lead and East Fremantle searching for a way back in to the match, a scoreless nine minutes opening the term with plenty of tackle pressure from both teams.

A great passage of play that saw stars Fish and Leitch link up at half forward help break the deadlock, Leitch’s centring kick seeing Fiedler awarded a free kick directly in front of goal and this time getting the all clear from the whistleblowers from her accurate kick.


That levelled the scores as Claremont’s scoring options dried up in a high intensity contest, and while the Sharks were dominating territory they were missing opportunities on the scoreboard, the only goal of the term coming from Siena Jezierski-Brown in the 17th minute, a superb kick from Zippy Fish finding her in the goal square.

In a low scoring contest 8 points was the biggest lead either side had established in the match since midway through the first term as Matt Templeton’s side turned for home with one foot in a Grand Final, needing to continue their ferocity at the contest against the tenacious Tigers.

With Claremont assured of a double chance even in defeat, they unsurprisingly threw everything at the Sharks in the final term, East Fremantle’s defence led by Doma Fedele and Leanne Gubbins forced to do a mountain of work to repel the Tigers attacking forays in the last term.

Sharon Wong was her typical self around the contest, throwing herself in to every contest with almost reckless abandon to try and get her team over the line.

Claremont’s best efforts still left them without a goal with only nine minutes remaining, Eva O’Donnell able to produce a crafty snap that bounced over Sharks defender Natasha Entwistle’s outstretched hand and through for a major that reduced the margin to three points.

It set up a frantic final few minutes of the contest, East Fremantle having to dig deep in their biggest game of the season to date.

Repeat stoppages were the norm for the final moments, able to gain enough territory dominance to keep the Tigers at bay and win by three points, O’Donnell’s major the final score of the game.

The ball was inside the Tigers forward 50 when the siren sounded, Claremont unable to scrounge a last gasp goal to snatch the game.

East Fremantle’s tackling pressure was sensational throughout the game, laying 101 tackles to 64 to close down their opponents’ space in a low scoring grind of a final.

Wong was among her side’s best with 17 disposals and 12 tackles to go with a first term goal, while Fish (17) and Tiani Teakle (17) also had big games, as did co-captains Beth Beckett (15) and Ash Gomes (13 disposals and 13 tackles).

The Sharks also dominated the aerial battle, winning 69 hitouts to 14 thanks to ruck duo Emmelie Fiedler and Laura Catherine.

Coach Matt Templeton praised his side’s endeavour in such a close contest.

“Our effort all day was immense. It wasn’t a day for skill it was all about willingness to stay in the fight,” he said.

“I couldn’t have asked for much more from our girls. It was a fantastic win that now gives us a chance to achieve something special here in a fortnight’s time.”

The Sharks mentor saved particular praise for his backline, and veteran Wong.

“ Our ‘mums and bubs club’ was at its best today. We have four teenagers to compliment a 30-year-old and a 40 year old and they have been warriors all season for us down there,” Templeton said.

“Sharon showed today why she is the GOAT (greatest of all time). She just continues to defy anyone foolish enough to doubt her. She’s a big game player and delivered again today.”

The Sharks will face the winner of the preliminary final between Claremont and West Perth, the Falcons hammering Swan Districts by 44 points earlier on Sunday to continue their remarkable rise in the competition.

Templeton said his side wasn’t getting ahead of themselves, with one win still required for back to back premierships.

“ The great thing is we are now in a Grand Final and can freshen up, but we still have so much more room for improvement,” he said.

“We’ve got a lot of hard work in front of us and know what’s at stake. We have one more game to win, and it’s the big one. We can’t wait.”

The WAFLW Grand Final will be held on Sunday, 7th July at Pentanet Stadium, tickets now available to see the Sharks in the decider.

Unfortunately the news wasn’t so good earlier in the day in the Rogers Cup second semi-final, the unbeaten West Perth far too strong in the 9.4 (58) to 1.5 (11) result.

Avuya Nomlatyu kicked the only goal for East Fremantle in the second term, the Sharks with a second chance next week in the preliminary final against Subiaco.