THE 2021 Optus WAFL Premiership Season got underway in fine style on the weekend with Peel Thunder making a winning start to their flag defence with wins also for Subiaco and Swan Districts.
The 2021 WAFW season is making an earlier than usual start to be more closely aligned with the AFLW competition, with the added bonus that it gives the female players some clean air to try and capture the imagination of the West Australian football public.
And anyone that got out to witness one of the Round 1 matches across the weekend either live on person of courtesy of the live streaming platforms would have been suitably impressed with the standard of football, and the endeavour put in by the players that they witnessed.
The Round 1 action got underway fittingly with the first two premiers of the WAFLW competition doing battle at Mandurah's David Grays Arena on Saturday evening.
And in the end on the day they unfurled the premiership flag, Peel Thunder started their flag defence in perfect style recording the 8.7 (55) to 3.5 (23) victory against East Fremantle.
The other two Round 1 match ups took place on Sunday afternoon and South Fremantle showed just how much it has improved coming into its second season with Subiaco only narrowly beating them 4.13 (37) to 5.4 (34) at Fremantle Community Bank Oval.
Then lastly Swan Districts prevailed over Claremont 2.6 (18) to 1.6 (12) at Bassendean's Steel Blue Oval.
The WAFLW Reserves action also saw East Fremantle defeat Peel Thunder 6.12 (48) to 3.1 (19), South Fremantle beat Subiaco 7.6 (48) to 4.1 (25) and Claremont down Swan Districts 10.2 (62) to 7.5 (47).
In the Youth Girls Rogers Cup, Peel Thunder took out a thrilling 4.7 (31) to 4.4 (28) win against East Fremantle.
South Fremantle also beat Subiaco 12.12 (84) to 1.0 (6) and Claremont defeated Swan Districts 6.14 (50) to 2.3 (15).
There's also a couple of extra teams represented in the Rogers Cup and they met at Joondalup's Provident Financial Oval on Sunday with West Perth beating East Perth 10.12 (72) to 1.1 (7).
OPTUS WAFLW PREMIERSHIP SEASON – ROUND 1
PEEL THUNDER 8.7 (55) defeated EAST FREMANTLE 3.5 (23)
Peel Thunder's premiership defence got off to the perfect in front of their home fans in Mandurah on Saturday evening as they defeated East Fremantle by 32 points.
The Thunder completely a stunning fairytale story in 2020. After finishing in last position and struggling to be competitive in the inaugural WAFLW season in 2019, Peel was able to completely turn that around and they were the ones celebrating the premiership on Grand Final day when they prevailed against Subiaco at Joondalup's Provident Financial Oval.
And Saturday night's season-opener for 2021 saw Peel hosting East Fremantle at David Grays Arena providing them the opportunity to celebrate that triumph of a year ago by unfurling the premiership flag in the ceremony before the game got underway.
It was a good challenge for the Thunder to begin their premiership defence as well up against an East Fremantle team that won that first WAFLW premiership in 2019, and still made the finals a season ago.
So seeing the first two WAFLW premiership lock horns was the perfect way to begin the 2021 season and it turned out to be a good contest too even if Peel ended up running away with it to win by 32 points.
Peel managed to start strongly with two goals to one in the opening quarter and then kicked three goals to one in the second to head into half-time with the 18-point advantage.
There was just the one goal in the third term and that went the way of the Thunder as well before they continued to extend their lead with another two goals to one in the final quarter to come away winning 8.7 (55) to 3.5 (23).
Kate Bartlett kicked three goals for Peel to be instrumental in the victory while Ella Roberts and Jade Briggs booted two apiece. Greta McKinley was the other goal scorer.
Ella Roberts, Katie Jayne Greive, Kate Bartlett, Jaide Briggs and Nel Baxter were among the standout performers for the Thunder.
Rachel Ashley kicked two goals for East Fremantle and Ann McMahon one.
Kate Inglis-Hodge, Amber Kinnane, Sharon Wong, Hayley O'Donnell and Mylee Leitch all fought hard for the Sharks.
SOUTH FREMANTLE 5.4 (34) lost to SUBIACO 4.13 (37)
If you go back a season ago and South Fremantle finished 2020 in last position and Subiaco in first, but the Bulldogs had improved by their final clash with the Lions and that continued to be the case in the 2021 season-opener Sunday.
South Fremantle and Subiaco locked horns at Fremantle Community Bank Oval on Sunday afternoon to open the 2021 WAFLW season, and it turned out to be a fascinating and nail-biting contest in the finish.
Last year was South Fremantle first season in the WAFLW competition and they were admitted on short notice with no ability to top up their squad or to really adequately prepare for the jump from being a reserves team to a league team.
That showed in their early appearances but they got more competitive each game and put in a strong showing in the last round against a Subiaco team that went on to claim the minor premiership and reach the Grand Final before ultimately losing to Peel Thunder.
So it was going to be fascinating to see how Sunday's season-opener panned out to find out what the gap was like coming into 2021 between the two teams.
Subiaco did start well at Fremantle Community Bank Oval with two goals to one in the opening quarter. It was then a goal apiece in the second term with the Lions going into half-time leading the Bulldogs by eight points.
South Fremantle then went scoreless in the third quarter with Subiaco earning seven shots on goal themselves, but they only converted one of those to only lead by 20 points and to keep the door slightly ajar for the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs then produced what was likely their best quarter of football so far in the WAFLW competition in the last term.
South Fremantle kicked the only three goals of that last quarter to have all the momentum to close to within three points of what would have been a stunning and historic victory.
But Subiaco held on for the 4.13 (37) to 5.4 (34) as they attempt to back up their last two WAFLW seasons where they have finished on top of the ladder on both occasions.
Maggie MacLachlan ended up kicking two goals for Subiaco with Amy Hunt and Jamie Rust adding one apiece.
Among Subiaco's best players were Charlie Thomas, Jayme Harken, Maggie MacLachlan, Ellie Blackmore and Jamie Rust.
Zoe Huggett had a day out for South Fremantle kicking three goals with Ashleigh Reidy and captain Lauren Vecchio the other goal scorers.
Best performers for the Bulldogs included Casey Byrne, Makaela Tuhakaraina, Ashleigh Reidy, Lauren Wafker and Pia Durk.
SWAN DISTRICTS 2.6 (18) defeated CLAREMONT 1.6 (12)
The last game of the opening round of the WAFLW season took place at Steel Blue Oval and it might not have been high-scoring, but little separated Swan Districts and Claremont.
The two teams locked horns at the Bassendean venue on Sunday afternoon keen to get off to a winning start to the new season.
There wasn’t a lot of goals to write home about in the contest but that didn’t make it any less or entertaining the longer it went on to see who would prevail in the tense battle.
There was just the one goal scored in the opening quarter and that went the way of Claremont. But as turned out that would be the only goal for the Tigers on the afternoon.
Swan Districts responded by kicking two goals in the second quarter and as it would pan out, that would be the only two goals that Swans would kick for the game too.
There wasn’t a goal scored by either team in the second half with Claremont adding three behinds in the third quarter, and then Swan Districts the one point in the fourth.
In the end on the back of those two goals in the second quarter it was Swan Districts who prevailed over Claremont 2.6 (18) to 1.6 (12) on home turf.
Both of Swan Districts goals were courtesy of Bella Edgley in that second quarter while Claremont's lone goal was kicked by Amy Franklin.
Lauren Osborne, Eliza Gelmi, Bella Edgley, Dana East and Sarah Lakay were among the best performers for Swan Districts.
Claremont's best players were Amy Franklin, Emily Bennett, Jessica Low, Adele Arnup and Rachel Ortlepp.