Before we kick off round 10 of the competition, lets have a look at our female premiership competition and where the teams stand.
ALL FLAGS SIGNS & BANNERS WOMENS PREMIERSHIP
1st – Joondalup Giants – 16 Points
The undefeated heavy weights of the competition, the Giants have just continued to kick over the last few weeks, with numbers fairly short and key players missing, they have continued to get it done. Possessing a great forward pack, and willing backs, they are the attacking force of the competition, and bring in boom youngster Rueben Cherrington this year to bolster them even further. They will be there come business time.
Strength – Class – Anneka Stephens and Ese Tiakia are two of the most experienced players in the competition, and present settled voices to guide a fairly young and new roster. Throw in WA stalwart and mainstay Chanelle Edwards, and key longtime players in Stacey Hendriks, Shaniqua Pokere and Elle Warren, they know how to grind out games and produce that special play when its needed.
Potential Flaw – Depth – While a fairly common problem in the fairly new female competition, alot of the Giants game is based around these experienced players. A couple of injuries could throw havoc into the Giants ranks. But their new players are learning quickly and it won’t be long before they will be looking to their experience less and less.
Key Player – Crystal Walters – An extremely dynamic hooker, Walters has speed to burn. With great leg speed and footwork, she can win games by herself, and is a willing defender in her own right. Comfortable out wide, she is a key piece to the Joondalup side and anyone who can push Cherrington to the halves is someone to be feared.
Exciting Rookie – Hererunga Te Ao – A rugged back row forward, Hererunga has surprised a few with her willingness to bend the line with her tough carries this year. While continually improving, she could be a scary proposition with more game time. Strong and possessing no fear, we all look forward to watching her on the main stage later in the year.
2nd – Ellenbrook Rabbitohs – 14 Points
The three time champs are still well in the picture this season, their only loss, a 6-4 heartbreaker to the above Joondalup Giants. And while the Rabbitohs will be keen to make up for that, their defensive record speaks for itself, having only conceded a measly 10 points all year. With strike all over the field, and rugby league pedigree all through the squad, they are still the side with a target on their back this year. Can they make it four in a row with new head coach Kailey Thompson and captain Juraea Turner on the reigns?
Strength – Depth – One of the few teams that has true depth this year, the Rabbitohs can call on different players and rarely struggle for numbers week to week. Boasting great girls programs underneath the senior grades, and improving league tag squads, they truly are a female powerhouse along with their northern neighbours, the giants.
Potential Flaw – Forward Punch – Outside of the imposing Sera Ah-Sam, the Rabbitohs don’t have many big experienced forwards. A promising bunch of rookies and youngsters are filling the holes in the front row at the moment and will improve with time, but it begs the question. Will they stand up and be counted when it matters?
Key Player – Mahinarangi Clair – The hard working lock is a crucial piece of the Rabbitohs puzzle. With her skill coming from her touch football background, she has shown there is still a place for the ball playing lock in this day an age. Strong and faster than she looks, she along with her halves Thompson and Turner, are key parts of the Rabbitohs spine.
Exciting Rookie – Hineriu Thompson – An exciting forward utility, Hineriu is still learning the game. A backrower first and foremost, her willingness in defence and ability to take tough carries are impressing many people around grounds. A tall imposing presence, don’t be fooled by her smile, she is an smiling assassin in defence.
3rd – South Perth Lions – 12 Points
The Lions are back, and on their own this year. And interestingly, they are mirroring their mens premiership side. A no-nonsense football team, which relies on their packs go forward, they are turning out to be a benchmark team of the competition. Coached by the experienced Lenoir Tairea, they lured the evergreen Melissa Thomas and returning Cherysh Leaf to the red and white this year and instantly have become one of the competition favorites. An exciting prospect and young, they could be anything moving forward.
Strength – Forward Pack – Led at hooker by Michaela Turner-Wallace you only have to look at their pack to know the Lions mean business. Leaf, Thomas, Faamausili Fala, Cassidy, Edwards. They are not here to muck around, and any runs down the middle of the field will be met with an iron wall. As long as they don’t experience to many injuries, they will bully plenty of sides this year.
Potential Flaw – Pure Halves – While possessing great young outside backs and a brutal forward pack, the Lions link people are still learning their trade. While impressing in certain areas and possessing a monster kicking game, Rachel Withoos is brand new to the game, and Tehani Tairea is a great utility, rather than a pure field general. With time to learn, they can improve out of sight still.
Key Player – Melissa Thomas – Its hard to go past the incredible lock for the Lions. Showing your never done until you say so, she is in fantastic form, even adding some before the line ball playing to her game play. Tough and uncompromising, she will continue to talk until the final whistle urging her team mates along.
Exciting Rookie – Taneka Doney-Vati – The fleet footed fullback announced herself on the stage this year with an impressive debut in the ANZAC Challenge game for the Kiwi Women’s side. Safe as houses, with the great ability to read the game, she is rarely caught out of place in defence. While only extremely young and still learning her trade, it’s only a matter of time until she becomes a mainstay of the competition.
4th – Rockingham Sharks – 7 Points
One of the new kids on the block, the Sharks have proven that they belong and are here to stay. Guided by James Cole, I wouldn’t be sleeping on this improving team. Week to week they are matching it with the best sides in the competition, not being embarrassed in games against the top 3 heavy weights. Unfortunately they are mixing their form depending on who they are playing at the moment, with a tough loss to the Bears and draw with the Sea Eagles keeping them in a battle for that 4th spot.
Strength – Growth – This is a team that is growing every week, and improving all the time. A brand new side, which was basically born out of a couple of people driving the concept, plenty of teams are commenting on how good they are defensively and how their attack improves week to week. With the most untapped ability in the competition, the Sharks, if timing it right, could scare some of the big 3, especially in the business end.
Potential Flaw – Experience – Unfortunately their great strength could be a potential flaw. While they have plenty of growth, they have clubs nipping at their heels for 4th spot, and their lack of experience, especially when it gets tight may be a vulnerability. They will rely on halves Xanthe Gray and Missy Buchanan to get them over the line in this department, but its a lot on the shoulders of the Sharks playmakers.
Key Player – Ainsley Buchanan – Hard to miss in her pink headgear, Ainsley shocked the competition last year when playing for the Bears with her consistent and above average performances. She has carried that form over to the Sharks, and it a part of their forward leaders with captain Sera Ravatudei and the impressive Stacey Teariki. A strong ball carrier with the ability to offload, she’s a shining light for the sharks.
Exciting Rookie – Samantha Khang – The impressive Khang has come out of nowhere to show an impressive combination of speed and balance to add some strike power to the Sharks backline, which they sorely need. A winger/fullback, she has shown great courage when bringing the ball out of trouble and shakes off big hits with a get on with it attitude.
5th – Willagee Bears – 7 Points
The Willagee Bears weren’t even going to have a side this year, but have sprung out of the blocks to find themselves on the edge of the top 4. On the back of some brutal performances, the Bears have barged and hammered their way to two hard fought victories, and find themselves with a shot at sneaking into the 4. On the back of barnstorming performances from the bullocking Cheyenee Campbell, teams always feel the after affects of playing the Willagee side.
Strength – Power – Willagee rely on their huge power game to get them over the line. Campbell along with the experienced Danielle Parker lead the Bears side. Add in the talented Cecelia Stickland and the dangerous ball running of Brianna Young, and they have some tackle breaking tyros. Team have to be awake defensively when playing this crew.
Potential Flaw – One Dimensional – Unfortunately for the Bears, whether on purpose on not, do not have a plan b. If their power game doesn’t work, they do not have the personnel or ability to change to a different style of football. While they still have half a season to go to a different game plan, I feel like perfecting their power game is probably the better way to go.
Key Player – Gabrielle Mouat – One of the few players in the Willagee Bears that could potentially change their style of attack is the skilful half Mouat. An able kicker and playmaker, Gabby has been around the grounds long enough to understand the game better than most of her peers. She needs to really step up for the Bears and be the general they need her to be for the rest of the season.
Exciting Rookie – Makaylah Savage – Blessed with devastating speed and footwork, Makaylah only needs an inch and she will take a mile. You can’t teach speed, and when she converts that into strength she is a dangerous opponent with or without the ball. Possessing no fear and enormous athletic ability, I hope she sticks in the competition for a long time.
6th – North Beach Sea Eagles – 7 Points
The Sea Eagles are another one of the new teams this year, and while its taken them half the season to come right, they look like one of the sides to put serious pressure on the top 2 or 3 teams. Lacking numbers to begin the year, the girls have finally come into the fold. Young, energetic and not lacking and heart, they continued to show up with low numbers over the first few weeks. And now they finally have at least a full 13, they won’t die wondering. Coached by the hugely experience Trudy Whaanga, she has got them improving every single week, which begs the question, how good can they be?
Strength – Speed – The Sea Eagles side is brimming with players that can take it the length of the field if given a sniff. Midson, Loundes, Robinson, Woolley, Whaanga, Thomas, Morgan. They have speed other teams could only wish for. They tend to have problems getting them into the right areas to utilise their speed though but is something that can be worked on.
Potential Flaw – Size – While being extremely gifted with speed, the Sea Eagles lack real size, as shown when the Bears bullied them in the middle of the park last time they played. A hard problem to overcome even without injuries, the lost the promising Demi Butler to a broken ankle earlier in the year, and will struggle to replicate her work rate. Donna Huinga continues to lead this young side in the middle and will need help.
Key Player – Emysen Robinson – The best young player in the competition, Robinson is a rare talent. Size, strength, speed and game awareness, she is the complete package. At such a young age, its obvious the Sea Eagles will lean on her abilities moving into the business part of the year. She is the key to the Sea Eagles chances moving forward.
Exciting Rookie – Anahera Te Rahui – Another of the young brigade coming out of the Sea Eagles nest, Anahera is one of those talents thats hard to give a position too. Possessing good ball skills and speed, she is also incredibly tough and willing to do the tough stuff. Doesn’t look out of place in the forwards or the backs, Beach will be looking for her to share more of the load moving forward.
7th – Kalamunda Bulldogs – 5 Points
At the bottom of the table, but by no means out of chance at the top 4, the Bulldogs are a brave team. Putting themselves in the frame this year, their numbers grew to a point where they could field a team by themselves and have shown they can match it with most teams when they control the ball. Still learning, and with lots of first time players in their crew, they are still searching for that first elusive win in 2021. A family team, lots of the ladies are related to one another, which makes it even more special for the ladies every time they take the field.
Strength – Size – The Bulldogs actually possess a team of strong running forwards that are hard to handle. In their game last week the Lions team struggled to control the Dogs go forward sets, making 40 or 50 metres without much difficulty. Led by Winder, Tipene and Tuialii in the middle of the field, they can generally get their sets moving forward strongly.
Potential Flaw – Speed – The Bulldogs are the opposite of the Sea Eagles. While possessing good size in the middle of the field, they lack out and out pace. Struggling to deal with other teams speedsters, they really need to find some necessary zip around the park, especially on the end of their sets. An injection of speed would turn this team into a potential dangerous matchup.
Key Player – June Marshall – It feels like the experienced Marshall has been around the competition for a long time, she is still fairly young at only 24 years of age. Their leader on the field, whether its in the halves or at hooker, marshall is a skilful game manager. Possessing a strong passing and kicking game, she also has a great 20 metre running burst which sometimes catchese teams unaware.
Exciting Rookie – Celia Reid – While slightly older than her halves partner Marshall, Celia shows ability and nous in her small time in the game. With her willingness to learn and improve every game, Reid could turn into one of the competitions premier players if only given time. While it might not happen this year, expect big improvement from Reid if she stays in the game.